The Patent Application

The patent application, being a combination of a legal contract and a scientific paper, represents a unique written document. It is a scientific paper because it describes some technical achievement but differs from usual technical pa pers in that it must stand on its own to a greater extent than most technical papers. The patent represents a legal contract because it is actually a contract between the inventor and the people of the United States as represented by the government and, specifically, by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. In particular, the government gives the inventor the right to exclude others, for a limited period of time, from making, using, offering for sale, selling, or importing the invention as defined by the claims. The consideration given by the inventor in the contract is publicly disclosing information concerning the invention.

A patent application must include a specification, a drawing (in the event that the nature of the invention is such as to require a drawing for understanding), and a signed oath or declaration. The specification must contain both a written description of the invention and at least one claim. In addition, a government filing fee must be paid, which, of course, changes with time. The legal requirements for an application can be found in 35 USC ยง111. Moreover, by rule, an application must contain an abstract of the disclosure.

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