What to patent… what is the example embodiment?

Lots of people have asked me what to place as their prime example of an invention when they submit a provisional patent.

When you write a patent you have a core idea which is meant to be expressed using an implementation that demonstrates what you think at the time is the best possible example of the invention in practise (i.e. in actual use).

The problem here is that many people start writing up a specification for their product instead of showing a version of the invention in use that is the simplest you can possibly show that discloses how you actually intend to use the invention in real life.

In my mind there are three implementations of an invention you need to consider when writing a business plan which need to be considered before showing your invention in a patent:

  1. The simplest implementation. What is the thing in its most basic form. No puffery. No additional features. Just the bare minimum. Simple but enough to enable someone who knows the business to duplicate what you are doing.
  2. Dream implementation. This is where you let your imagination run wild and try to envisage your invention as people will actually use it.
  3. Actual Implementation per your business plan. This may be a simplified real world version of your invention that minimizes manufacturing and marketing costs and is most probably geared to a specific market segment/ opportunity that makes it easy for you to enter the market and get to break even as soon as possible.

How do you use these three implementations?

Your initial business plan should have a vision section where you flesh out your ultimate dream for your invention. Where the invention is used throughout the market and the invention has reached full market penetration and is used in every possible way you can imaging. This is where you use your dream implementation.

Then your business plan has the next steps section. This section is about real world. About what you are going to build first,how it will be received by the market place and the real costs of getting an initial toe hold in the market. Use the actual implementation version of your invention for this.

And finally for the main body of your provisional patent example use the simplest implementation. In the alternative embodiments section make sure you have covered any essential features you may run across in the dream implementation but only if they must be added. Otherwise focus on cutting off any opportunities that occur to you that people may use to work their way around the basic specification of your patent.

This and other articles will appear in an e-book I am preparing for those of you who are interested.

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