Writing Patent Application Abstracts

What Goes Into a Patent Application Abstract?

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The abstract is part of a written patent application. It’s a short summary of your invention, no more than a paragraph, and it appears at the beginning of the application. Think of it as a condensed version of your patent where you can abstract – or take out and focus on – the essence of your invention. 

Here are the basic rules for an abstract from the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Law MPEP 608.01(b), Abstract of the Disclosure:

A brief abstract of the technical disclosure in the specification must commence on a separate sheet, preferably following the claims, under the heading "Abstract" or "Abstract of the Disclosure." The abstract in an application filed under 35 U.S.C. 111 may not exceed 150 words in length. The purpose of the abstract is to enable the United States Patent and Trademark Office and the public generally to determine quickly from a cursory inspection the nature and gist of the technical disclosure.

Why Is an Abstract Necessary? 

Abstracts are used primarily for searching patents. They should be written in a way that makes the invention easily understood by anyone with a background in the field. The reader should be able to quickly get a sense of the nature of the invention so he can decide whether he wants to read the rest of the patent application. 

The abstract describes your invention. It says how it can be used, but it does not discuss the scope of your claims, which are the legal reasons why your idea should be protected by a patent protected, providing it with a legal shield that prevents it from being stolen by others.

 

Writing Your Abstract

Give the page a title, such as "Abstract" or "Abstract of the Specification" if you’re applying to the Canadian Intellectual Property Office. Use "Abstract of the Disclosure if you’re applying to the United States Patent and Trademark Office. 

Explain what your invention is and tell the reader what it will be used for.

Describe the main components of your invention and how they work. Don’t refer to any claims, drawings or other elements that are included in your application. Your abstract is intended to be read on its own so your reader won’t understand any references you make to other parts of your application. 

Your abstract must be 150 words or less. It may take you a couple of tries to fit your summary into this limited space. Read it over a few times to eliminate unnecessary words and jargon. Try to avoid removing articles such as “a,” “an” or “the” because this can make the abstract difficult to read.

This information comes from the Canadian Intellectual Property Office or CIPO. The tips would also be helpful for patent applications to the USPTO or World Intellectual Property Organization.