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Patent Written Description Requirement

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What Is the Written Description Requirement?

When you submit a patent application, you must include a written description of your invention.  In addition to the description of your invention, you must also include an explanation of how to make and use the invention, and an account of what you believe to be the best mode of making and using the invention. 

How Can I Best Describe My Invention?

The purpose of the written description requirement is to prove that you have actually created the invention that you want to patent.  To best describe your invention, you must give proof that you are actually in possession of the invention.  Some common ways to do this in your written description are:

  • You can describe how you made the invention
  • You can include drawings, formulas, or other methods of conveying information
  • You can deposit a sample of your invention in one of the repositories the USPTO has around the country.  This method is especially useful for biological material that cannot be sufficiently described in words or with pictures

What Do I Have to Include in My Explanation of How to Make and Use My Invention?

Your explanation of how to make and use your invention must enable someone who is skilled in the field of your invention to make and use it.  The best way to do this is to:

  • Make sure you show that your invention works
  • Make sure your claims are not too broad - in order to meet the enablement requirement you have to explain how to make every invention that falls within the scope of the patent application - if your claims are very broad and encompass a wide scope of inventions but you only explain how to make and use one of those inventions, your claims are not enabled
  • Describe how you have practiced your invention - showing the ways you've made and used the invention will show others how to make and use it

What Does It Mean to Disclose the Best Mode?

In addition to describing the invention and disclosing how to make and use it, you must also describe what you believe to be the best mode of making and using the invention.  However, if your best mode requires the use of some elements that are not mentioned in your patent claims, you must disclose those elements in your written description even if they aren't necessary to make the invention work.   

I Made an Invention but I Don't Know How it Works, Does this Mean I Can't Get a Patent?

You do not have to know how your invention works to get a patent.  You can get a patent as long as you can clearly describe your invention and describe how to make it.  The test for the written description is whether you can show that you created the invention, not whether you understand it. 

Do I Need a Patent Attorney?

The patent application process can be very complicated.  You may benefit from consulting a patent attorney.  An experienced patent attorney can help ensure that your written description meets all the necessary requirements.

Photo of page author Ken LaMance

, LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law

Last Modified: 01-02-2014 03:59 PM PST

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