IP Law Essentials

Anatomy of a Patent


Anatomy of Patent

I. The Front Page


The title of the patent can be used to construe the claims. It should be a short (just a few words), broad description of the invention.


The inventors and where they reside.


The patent will list the owner of the patent, if the inventors have assigned their rights to a third party, e.g., their employer. This example does not have an assignee listed on the face of the patent.

Patent Term Extension or Adjustment

In the event of delay during prosecution or regulatory review, the term of the patent can be extended or adjusted. This can change how long the patent is in force. Delays caused by the applicant, like a request for an extension of time to respond, are not counted here. In this case, the patent's term has not been extended or adjusted.

Application Number

This was the application number at the Patent Office. It can be used for looking up further information about the application on the Patent Office's website, called Public PAIR.

Filing Date

This is when the application was filed with the PTO.

Prior Publication Data

If the application was published by the Patent Office, this field will include the date and a publication number.

Invention Classifications and Fields of Examiner Search

The classifications place the invention in a category of similar inventions, identified by a number or letter combination. The fields of examiner search are the technical areas where the examiner looked for prior art.

Patent Documents of Record

These are the references the examiner looked at and considered when reviewing the patent. The U.S. Patent documents refer to patents and published applications that the examiner referenced.

Other Publications of Record

Other publications refer to non-patent documents that were considered by the Patent Office during the application's prosecution.

Patent Number

The patent number, issued by the Patent Office.

Issue Date

The date the patent issued.


This is a short statement summarizing the invention.

II. Drawings

The drawings provide a visual representation of the invention. They can include flow charts or diagrams. Software patents, for example, tend to include flow charts. Reference numerals refer to the elements described in the text of the patent, often referred to as the specification.

III. Specification

Field of the Invention

A general statement of the inventive technology.

Background of the Invention

A general discussion of previously known technology.

Summary of the Invention

A general discussion of the inventive technology, often with the claims re-written into standard prose.

Brief Description of the Drawings

This provides an overview of the subject matter illustrated in each drawing.

Description of the Invention

This provides a detailed description of the inventive technology with reference to the figures to help in understanding the technology.

IV. Claims

These are the numbered paragraphs at the end of the patent. The claims define the subject matter that defines the invention. Put another way, the claims define the "metes and bounds" of property protected by the patent.

There are two basic types of claims - independent and dependent. Independent claims are standalone claims and do not refer to any other claims. Dependent claims refer to another claim. A dependent claim requires all the features explicitly recited in the dependent claim plus all the features recited in the claim(s) from which the dependent claim depends. Therefore, a dependent claim is said to be "narrower" than a claim from which it depends.

In this patent, claim 1 is an independent claim because it does not refer to any other claims. Claim 4, for example, is a dependent claim because it refers to claim 1. Thus, claim 4 requires the features explicitly recited in claim 4 plus the features recited in claim 1.

There are several different ways an inventor can claim her invention, including, for example, claiming the invention as an apparatus, a device, an article of manufacture (an object), a composition of matter, or a method. Typically, the first few words of a given claim tell you which way the inventor is using the claim to define her invention.

In this patent, claim 1 is an article of manufacture (an object), specifically "a Halloween treat carrier." Claim 16 is a method claim, in particular "a method of decorating a pumpkin."

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