Do you disclose all technical details in your patent application?

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Inventors are often reluctant to disclose all technical details of their invention in their patent application. They fear that disclosing these details in a patent application makes it too easy for copycats.

Although this reasoning is certainly understandable, it goes against the idea of patent protection. Disclosing your invention helps society as a whole to broaden the state of the art and to stimulate innovation. In exchange for disclosing your invention, a granted patent gives you the right to exclude competitors from manufacturing, using, selling, offering for sale, importing or exporting your patented invention for a limited term.

In order to obtain a valid patent, it is therefore required by law that a patent application describes the invention in an ‘enabling manner’. For example, according to the European Patent Convention, the patent application must disclose the invention in a manner sufficiently clear and complete for it to be carried out by a person skilled in the art.

This requires a description of any feature essential for carrying out the invention in sufficient detail to render it apparent to the skilled person how to put the invention into practice. Technical details which are well-known should not be described. In practice, a single exemplary way of carrying out the invention may suffice. However, in order to broaden the protection given by the patent, it is better that the description gives a number of examples or describes alternative embodiments or variations extending over the protected area.

Therefore, although omitting technical details in your patent application is a tempting strategy, be aware that whether or not the invention is disclosed in an enabling manner is thoroughly examined by patent offices around the world and, even after the patent has been granted, a non-sufficient disclosure is a ground for revoking the patent.

In summary, we advise disclosing all technical details required for carrying out your invention in a patent application. GEVERS and it’s highly specialized patent attorneys are available to assist you in every step of this process.

Michaël Moreels – European and Dutch Patent Attorney

Frank Van Coppenolle – European Patent Attorney – Partner