The pleasures of the patent application process

Joining a start-up innovation project, I was well aware I would need to roll up my sleeves and have the initiative to work on whatever challenges would appear. This goes well with my personality and, if anything, made the role even more attractive.

However, little did I know that I would come across the opportunity to propose relevant innovation and to actually protect such innovation via a patent application.

Preparing a patent application is an exhilarating experience, especially if you have never gone through this process before. It is one thing to have a great insight for innovation; it is another thing to think through every minute detail and articulate your ideas in a way clear enough for an intellectual property lawyer to translate them into the legal jargon typical of a patent application.

As you prepare the detailed background and context needed to explain the innovation, there is a need to dig deep into specific aspects that had only been considered at a high level before. At points you will yearn to discuss the more intricate details with someone else, but you cannot really do it too openly as talking too much can give the innovation away. It does feel lonely at times and it will occasionally get the question ‘Can I really get this done?’ into your head. It is also quite incredible how focused you become on your research and how much you are able to learn in a very short space of time.

Then, when you are satisfied with your articulation of the innovation, you need to think objectively about the innovation claims you will make. If you followed a structured path to explain the innovation, the specific claims are a natural byproduct. However, there is the challenge of how broad or how narrow you make the claims. If they are too narrow, there will only be a very limited set of scenarios where the innovation is protected. If they are too broad, they might lose meaning and might be challenged by numerous other parties.

Finally, it is time to liaise with the IP lawyers. It is quite impressive how clever and fast to learn these professionals are. You need to take them through your description of the innovation and make sure they understand even the most subtle of the aspects. Things you take for granted are not always obvious, and these professionals will make sure they fully understand what they need to process. Then, at the very end, you get all your ideas, descriptions and claims played back to you in the form of the draft patent application. A few rounds of review and it is all ready for submission.

It is an experience I recommend to any fellow technologist and, to be honest, I am already itching to work on the next patent application for the DARWIN project.

Rodrigo Barreto, Darwin Lead Architect

Darwin Innovation Group is a UK-based company that provides services related to autonomous vehicles and communications. If you’re interested in working with us, take a look at our careers page. If you’d like to know how we can help your organisation make use of autonomous vehicles, contact us. You can also follow us on LinkedIn or Twitter.