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What Information Is Needed to Start a Software Patent?

Learn step by step, how to prepare the right information and lay the groundwork for a strong patent application. In this video, Rich explains how you can avoid wasting time and money, and how to make sure your idea isn’t misunderstood or misrepresented.

The 4 basic steps to getting started

In order to start the process of protecting your idea, you need to have a clear description of the idea—clear enough to help a patent attorney create a solid, well-written patent application that’s going to protect your concept.

If you’ve ever seen a software patent before, you’ve probably noticed a few key elements. Generally, there are flow charts, diagrams, and a written description that explains the process followed by the software and makes reference to the flowchart and drawings.

So, to have the right information so that you can get a well-written patent application that protects you—and avoid having a poorly written application that wastes time and money and doesn’t protect you—follow these steps:

Step 1: Isolate the novel parts of the method or process as carried out by the software or application.

These steps can be things that are internal to the system, such as specific steps that are executed by your code. They could also be things that are external to the system, such as the way in which the user interacts with your application, the type of input provided by the user, or the unique way in which a certain result is generated or provided to the user through your system. Those could be the novel parts of the process that you want to present, and in particular, that you want to prepare.

Step 2: Create some rough sketches illustrating the different parts of the system and how they are all connected together.

The sketches can just be simple hand drawings; they don’t have to be anything fancy. In particular, you want these sketches to contain the physical components that interact and make your system function the way that it does.

For example, the sketches might show a person’s desktop or home computer, a component that’s on their smart phone, a server with which the smart phone communicates, another server that communicates with the home computer, and then something to indicate communication between the two servers. You want to have some type of rough diagram that illustrates the basic connection that’s required to have your system function.

Step 3: Make some basic flow charts that show the user experience with the system, and also show what happens internally, if that’s important to the novelty.

These basic flow charts illustrate how the user interacts with the system, and also what’s happening within the system, what type of processing takes place.

Step 4: Create a basic description that really explains what’s novel—in your view—about the application, what makes it special.

Ideally, this description should just be a few paragraphs, a really concise explanation of what makes this application different from other ones that you know of.

If you can provide the patent attorney with a lot of intricate details about how the system functions, then by all means, go ahead and create that detailed description. At the same time though, make sure that you create a concise explanation that, in a paragraph or two, really nails what the novel parts of the idea are. That way, the patent attorney can just get to the heart of the matter of where to focus most of the attention in preparing the patent application.

Now that you know what the patent attorney will need from you in order to get the process started, why not go ahead and start following these steps right now? You can get the patent process started right away.

Good luck!

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