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Patent engineers are law professionals who assist in the preparation of patent filings. Patent attorneys often have a group of Patent Engineers on staff. Many Patent Engineers have technical degrees.
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How to patent an idea, and profit from your invention
Patent an invention
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    Topic  
    Index  
   
01 Profiting from your inventions 101 (How to file a patent)
the patent process
02 What is an invention?
novelty, patentable subject matter
03 How do patents protect your rights to an invention?
rights, enforcement
04 Why use an Inventor's Logbook
why it is important to keep one
05 How to keep an Inventor's Logbook
guidelines and tips
06 Copyrights, trademarks and patents.
is one better than the other
07 What does a patent look like?
embodiments, claims etc.
08 Which countries should I file my patent in?
usually in more than one country
09 How much time and money to file in?
legal fees, time taken
10 How do I collect royalties off my patents?
enforcement
11 Search for prior art
resources and databases
12 Your responsibilities
and your attorney's responsibilities
A Case study: a patent (part 1)
a patent dissected
B Case study: a patent (part 2)
a patent dissected
C 10 Simple Inventions
used all over the world!
D Tips for Inventors
pitfalls and hints
E How to Invent
(Anyone can be an inventor!)

how to start inventing
F The patent process
the formal patent process
   
       
 
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An Example of a Patent (Part 1 of 2)

Let's go through an actual patent and see what each section of the patent means. Click here to open the patent in another window (this will launch the Google Patents page for this patent)

US 7,240,214 B2
Jul 3, 2007
Centrally Controllable Instant Messaging System
Inventors: Marco Gazzetta, Los Altos, CA (US)
Warren Wan, Sunnyvale, CA (US)
Assignee: Yahoo!, Inc., Sunnyvale, CA (US)

Cover Page:

References Cited: This shows the prior art that the patent cites. In this case, it refers to some earlier patents granted in the U.S.

Primary Examiner: This is the examiner (staff at the US patent office) who examined the patent application and allowed it.

Abstract: This is a brief summary of the entire patent. Future inventors searching for prior art will often scan your abstract to see if your patent is related to their invention. Likewise, commercial companies who are looking for a technology to license often scan through abstracts to see if your invention is relevant to them. So it is important that you summarize clearly what your invention does, and how it does it. You may also want to state the problem that your invention solves.

In this case, the abstract explains the invention quite clearly as a system that allows real-time communication between two or more users over an electronic network. It also gives some details on how this invention works, stating that each user has a client application running. There are also two other types of applications running (probably on a server): an authentication application and a messaging service application which keeps track of the status of all users. It also goes on to say that there may be more than one authentication application, and that each authentication application can access its own directory service and talk to client applications on its own private network, which has links to the public internet. This gives us a pretty clear idea of what the invention is about: namely an instant messaging system that allows users from different organizations (each having their own directory and userID-password) to communicate with each other.

However, what is described here is not expected to describe the invention fully. For example, we can easily imagine that this invention can also be applied in situations when all users are in one directory only. Such details and the "broadness of the invention" are usually explained later on in the description of the invention, and more important in the patent claims.

Drawing Sheets:

These are drawings that illustrate how the invention works. In this case, it appears to have handwriting and what appears to be annotated presentation pages (Fig 5 and Fig 6). As you can see, what is important is that your diagrams explain your invention. Aesthetic achievement is not a priority.

Column 1

Cross References to Related Applications: In this case, the inventors are saying that this patent is the formal patent that follows the provisional patent that they filed earlier in Oct 25, 2002. A provisional patent application is simply a shorter version of a patent application which you can file. This provisional patent application should contain the gist of your idea, but it doesn't need to go into detailed claims. It is meant for inventors to quickly tell the world that they have made an invention, but the inventors must file a more detailed, formal patent application within 12 months of their provisional patent application.

Background of the invention: This is where the inventors state two things: (1) the field of their invention, in this case electronic communications (a drug patent might state blood pressure medication for example), and (2) the way people currently do things in the field. In this case they describe how instant messaging systems are used in the world before their invention came along. I In other words, they are describing prior art. You should never describe your invention here, or it could be considered as prior art!

Brief Summary of the Invention. This is where the inventors describe what their invention does. But they keep things brief, and the details of the invention are kept for a later section. You will notice that they keep using phrases like “in an embodiment of the…” and “in another embodiment of…” followed by a description of how a variation of their invention can work. Why don’t they just say “our invention can also be made to do abcdefg”? The reason is that in a patent, they are claiming the idea behind the invention. An embodiment is a way that the idea can be implemented (ie. Having the idea “reduced to practice” in legal jargon). Their main objective is to describe their idea. But because it is difficult to fully express all possible aspects of an idea, they often try to explain their idea by describing ways in which it can be implemented (ie. its various possible embodiments). When you write your patent application, it is important to distinguish between your idea and its embodiments. Your patent attorney or his or her patent engineers can help you with this.

Column 2

Brief Description of the Drawings. This is where the inventors explain what each drawing (figure) is about. Think of it like a caption for each drawing. Don’t describe your drawing in detail here. You’ll refer to the drawings in greater detail in the next section.

Continued in Part 2.



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Copyright © 2008 Wei-lung Wang All rights reserved.
Email: wang@patentengineers.com.