Fundamental of Patent Document - Must Know

By Vinod Singh

A patent is a right granted to an individual or group (such as a company) which permits the grantee the knack to avoid others from making, using, or selling the invention, for a fixed period of time in exchange for the regulated, public disclosure of certain details of a device, method, process or composition of matter (substance) (known as an invention) which is new, inventive, and useful or industrially applicable.

Patents by their techno-legal nature are written in a specific format, thus enabling it difficult to read and understand by a lay man. The focus of this paper is to provide very basic information of a patent document, so that a lay man can easily understand a patent.

There are three main types of patents:

Utility patents: are patents on inventions which function in a new way or to provide a new result.

Design patents: is a patent on the aesthetic design or ornamentation of something that already exists. A design patent is granted when the design in question does not change the functionality of the object, only gives it a novel appearance. Design patents primarily contain drawings.

Plant patents: are patents on types of plants that may be reproduced by grafts and cuttings. Note that patents related to genetic engineering of plants are normally considered utility patents.

Utility patents are the most common type of patents, and are what people in general indicate when they just say "patent."

Parts of a patent document

Patents with their techno-legal nature are written in a standard format. A patent document contains following parts:

Bibliographic information

The front page of the patent bibliographic information including patent/publication number, inventor name, the entity to whom patent rights are assigned (generally an inventor assigns a patent to his employer if the invention was conceived as part of his work for that employer), patent number, filing or application date, date of issue, classes and subclasses under which the patent was classified, and the classes searched by the examiner during determination of novelty of the invention, abstract, representative drawing and the title. Sometimes the front page also includes patents and non-patent. They can provide good leads for a patent search.


The description possibly will contain several parts, including:

Field of the invention: briefly describes the field of technology to which the patent is applicable and about invention.

Background of the invention: describes prior, similar inventions (patents and research publications), and the problems which remained unresolved. It provides why this invention is new and useful and how it is able to solve those problems.

Summary of the invention: describes the objective of the present invention.

Brief description of the drawings: lists all the drawings that are part of the patent.

Detailed description: describes in very detail about exactly how the invention works, refers to each diagram, and repeatedly attempts to broaden the scope of the patent by suggesting other ways that the invention could be used or implemented other than just what is presented in the figures.


Claims in a patent are very important section as it legally determines exactly what the patent covers and what it does not. Claims are critical, both for validity and clearance searches, and for writing a patent application.

Claims are generally of two types “independent claims" and "dependent claims". Dependent claims are those that rely to a previous claim, and thereby may require that previous claim to be valid for themselves to be valid. This is a very important concept in validity searches, where it is a common strategy to attempt to invalidate mainly the independent claims, to potentially invalidate the dependent claims in the process.

Vinod Kumar Singh
Content Writer - IP/Patent Intelligence

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