Patent Specification

Patent Specification

A ‘patent specification’ is one of the documents required for filing an application for a patent, along with a ‘request for grant’. The specification is a detailed legal document often drafted by a patent agent with suitable scientific or engineering qualifications.

The specification will include an abstract, the description and the claims. An abstract will summarise the invention and is used for reference purposes. The description should detail the invention enough for it to be performed by a skilled person. If more research is needed to make the invention work it can be refused on the ground that it lacks ‘sufficiency’. It must also provide support for the claims, proving that there has been an inventive step beyond existing technology. An inventive step is considered to be something new and not obvious to the uninventive technician.

The claims are what will define the scope of the rights granted to the holder. It ought to include possible alternatives to prevent others claiming it as their own invention or exploiting the gap. It is drafted with the widest claim first, stating the invention in general terms. The following claims will each narrow the invention down further. The wider the area of technology claimed the easier it is to keep away rival inventors. Although claims which are unjustifiably wide risk being narrowed or struck out, as a result of patent litigation.

It is important to be the first person to file an application at the Patent Office. The filing date is usually the patent’s priority date on which it is decided whether the invention is new. The initial examination by the Patent Office will normally take around 18 months. It will then be published as an application and placed on the public register. At this stage, the invention is no longer a secret and third parties may object to the grant of a patent. If successful, the patent will be granted six months later. These two years between the filing of papers and the granting of the patent forms part of the twenty year life of the patent.

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