India: Patent Proofreading: Significance

Last Updated: 25 August 2016
Article by Intepat Team

The importance of a patent specification cannot be over-emphasized. The grant of a patent depends on the way in which the specification is drafted. For this reason, it is extremely important to draft the patent meticulously. The patent specification must disclose an 'enabling invention' i.e. it must allow an ordinary person skilled in the same field as the invention belongs to, to make/perform the invention without any undue effort. The other significant aspect of a specification is that the specification determines the extent of protection granted to the invention. Any mistake in drafting the patent specification could result in a completely useless patent. Even worse, the invention would be in the public domain, making it impossible to patent it again.

Given the important role that a patent specification plays in getting the patent, it is only apparent that the specification is drafted with utmost care and caution. However, humans are prone to making mistakes. Therefore even the utmost care taken while drafting a specification could leave some errors unchecked. These errors could be fatal and result in the rejection of a patent or the grant of a useless patent. In this scenario, what is the best way to ensure an error-free patent specification?

Patent proofreading is the solution. Patent proofreading is the most important final step before filing for a patent. Proofreading helps enable the correction of any errors whether significant (affecting the patents enforceability) or not. It must be employed as an indispensable final step after the patent specification has been drafted. This will ensure in the grant of a perfectly enforceable patent.

What is patent proofreading?

Patent proofreading is arguably the most important final step in the process of getting a patent. After the patent draft is finalized the patent specification must be proofread. Proofreading helps filter out any errors that might have gone unnoticed while drafting the specification. It also helps in mitigating any harm that could have been the outcome of the errors in the patent draft.

What are the essentials of proofreading?

The preceding paragraphs have highlighted the significance of proofreading. This section will emphasize on the essentials of proofreading.

Claim Construction: Claims are arguably the most important part of a specification. They define the boundary of protection granted by a patent. Proofreading the claims will check missing and ambiguous antecedent references and ensure there is support in the specification for what is claimed. It will also ensure proper claim dependencies and omit indefinite claims. Given the importance of claims in the patent draft, proofreading the claims will give the claims a definite structure, ensuring that there is harmony between what is disclosed and what is claimed for. A well-drafted claim increases the chances of getting a patent.

Grammar: Grammar might seem like an insignificant element in the patent draft. It's not. In fact, grammar makes a lot of difference in how a sentence is perceived. One word can have two meanings, depending on where and how it is used. Patent proofreading must ensure that all the sentences in the patent draft are unequivocal i.e. convey meaning unambiguously. The sentences must be clear and concise with no room for any ambiguity, lest the patent be rejected. Proofreading helps in removing grammatical errors and making the draft straightforward and precise.

Enabling Invention: Most times though the patent draft discloses the invention to the fullest, it might not disclose an enabling invention. This could lead to rejection of the invention. Proofreading a patent helps determine whether the draft has disclosed an enabling invention or not.

Scope of the patent: The patent draft determines the boundary of protection granted by the patent. Patent proofreading helps in ensuring that the extent of protection claimed by the invention is neither too broad (causing the patent to be rejected) nor too narrow (resulting in a useless patent).

Technicality: Proofreading the patent draft is also important from the viewpoint of technical adherence. Certain technical specifications have been prescribed for a patent draft. Proofreading helps in determining whether all the technicalities have been complied with.

As can be seen from above, patent proofreading does not only check the grammatical errors but every aspect of the specification in order to ensure the grant of an enforceable and commercially viable patent

According to research, almost every US patent contains at least one mistake. Two percent of the patents examined contained serious mistakes that weakened the core claims. Given the importance of a patent, the risk of allowing a mistake in the patent draft is not worth taking. Thus, though time consuming and expensive, a patent draft must be proofread.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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