One of the most important steps in licensing patents is reviewing the patent document to make sure it’s not infringing on other patents.
Patent documents are complex, and understanding how to read it can help you quickly research the technical, legal and commercial information about the IP. Here’s a quick summary of the 5 key parts of patents:
- The first part (front page) is a “Summary” detailing the patent filing date, who the inventor is, and what the patent is (an abstract with a drawing).
- The next section is the “Description”. This is like the directions of how to create the invention – it includes enough detail so that someone familiar with the product or technology could reproduce it from the description and the drawings.
- The third part is known as the “Claims”. These are THE most important part of a patent. They state the reasons the patent is new (unique or novel), listing from broadest independent claims to the dependent claims (these references back to an earlier claim). (ones that refer back to earlier claims).
- The fourth part is the “Drawings. These are illustrations of the invention, detailing the product or technology features.
- The last part is the “Search” report provided by the patent office that includes a list of patents, books, journal articles, conference proceedings, and so on, that have some relationship to the invention.
Here’s a research tip: These reports can contain a lot of good information about the patent, market, competitive products and more. Researching a patent is a time-consuming task (not to mention they are very technical). Here’s a quick shortcut. Start with the independent claims. Because these are the most important parts of the patent, you’ll get a quick sense of how strong the patent is and if it’s worth doing more research.