Increased IP awareness and the consequent surge in the rate of patent filings have failed to deliver on the effectiveness quotient of IP enforcement in the market. This has necessitated thorough scrutiny by the Indian Patent Office (IPO) to deter applicants from getting a grant on inventions that might not be able to stand a trail in the Court of Law if its discussed. Therefore, drafting a patent application (specification) plays a crucial role in the success of an invention. From acceptance to infringement actions, the content and quality of the draft determine the fate of the invention. An inventor may know his invention well but might not be able to explain it in a manner compliant to the requirement of the patent office. In such a scenario, professional assistance from an experienced patent practitioner is sought and it is expected of them to understand the technical complexity of the invention at hand and have the desired foreseeability to help the invention survive the various tests.
Impact of drafting the patent specifications having broader scope:
The broader you cover the invention, the broader is your scope of the invention protected. Drafting the patent specifications broadly, covering related future developments, would restrict competitors to a possible extent from claiming similar invention with slight modifications. Therefore, in drafting the specification, the patent expert should avoid using phrases such as “the invention is…” instead they could use phrases like “in an embodiment of the invention.” This will ensure that patent claims receive the broadest interpretation possible.[i] Moreover, broadly drafted patent specification still provides the chance to the applicant to narrow down the specification at the worst case and proceed further to put the application in order of grant. However, care must be taken to limit the breadth so as not to go beyond the invention. Too broad description, without precise details and proper drafting in view of the existing prior arts, might lead to rejection of claims or increased susceptibility to complex patent prosecution.
Impact of having various embodiments in patent specifications:
While drafting patent specifications, various embodiments should be provided in order to ensure better clarity in terms of the scope of the patent application. Multiple embodiments should disclose all the possible methods of performing the invention and different combinations of structural components that are involved to achieve the objective of the invention including alternatives. The embodiments disclosed could effectively restrict competitors from claiming a scope similar to the applicant’s invention with slight modification. Additionally, varying embodiments assist in identifying the means that one could employ to avoid infringement and those means must be incorporated to protect the invention from future actions. However, the best patent claims will protect the “invention” itself so that no physical embodiments of the invention can be made, used or sold by anyone without infringing the claims.
Impact of having an effective background section in patent specification:
The background section should disclose the existing state of the art to which the invention relates to and the areas of improvement as well as the limitations of such existing art. It must also state the need for the present invention and provide a solution to the problem associated with the state of the art. Care must be taken so as not to limit the scope of the invention to a particular state of the art and if possible, its application to other fields should be hinted.
Impact of using appropriate terminologies in patent specifications:
Drafting of patent application in a precise and clear manner, using appropriate terminologies, enable applicants to claim the scope of the invention to the maximum possible extent. Terminologies utilized in the patent specifications have a substantial importance in protecting the scope at the time of patent prosecutions/enforcement. Say, for instance, using the terminology specifically like “selfie” in an invention related to image capturing would limit the scope of the invention to selfies only. Whereas using a broad term such as “image” would protect the invention not only for “selfies” but also for other images. However, the best practice is to use only the appropriate terminologies that are applicable/relevant to the invention. Further, the terminology used in claims should have proper enablement/support in the patent specification. Similarly, inconsistencies must be avoided as it may limit the extent of protection and could render the claim objectionable. Finally, negative limitations and disclaimers should generally be avoided because they do not provide the elegant and artful claim language that offers the best protection for inventions.
Impact of claiming the invention in various perspectives and categories:
Claiming the invention in all possible perspectives and categories enables the inventor to protect the scope of the invention entirely. For instance, claiming the invention only in transmission perspective provides a chance to the competitor to exploit the rights of the applicant’s invention in reception perspective with minor changes. Similarly, claiming the invention in all possible categories under a single inventive concept would enable the inventor to completely protect the invention. Else claiming only in one particular category provides a chance to competitors to exploit the rights.
The best practice is to draft patent specifications with utmost care to extract maximum benefits. Patent Practioners need to identify how best to protect their clients’ invention and achieve their clients’ business objectives. It is essential that novelty, utility, and non-obviousness of the invention are adequately represented in the application. Apart from the above-mentioned observations, certain key points such as precision and brevity of claims, lack of repetition, noting essential features and elements of the invention, and going from broadest claim to the narrowest would help in proper drafting.
Image Credits: Daniel McCullough on Unsplash
The best practice is to draft patent specifications with utmost care to extract maximum benefits. Patent Practitioners need to identify how best to protect their clients’ inventions and achieve their clients’ business objectives. It is essential that the novelty, utility, and non-obviousness of the invention are adequately represented in the application.