5 Ways To Improve The Quality Of Invention Disclosures

Getting good quality invention disclosures is a challenge if your inventors don’t engage with the innovation capture process. As an innovation manager, you need to fill the innovation funnel with potentially patentable ideas. So, what do you do?

Let’s explore what makes a good quality invention disclosure and how you can get enough of those! 

Good Quality Invention Disclosure:

A good quality invention disclosure captures the novelty, advantages, and utility of the invention. It has to be explained well enough such that those who approve patent filings can understand the invention and how it is strategic to the enterprise. To put it simply, an ideal invention disclosure clearly and precisely describes:

  • The problem that the idea solves
  • How the idea solves the problem
  • How the invention operates
  • The enhanced features in comparison to existing alternatives

How to Make Sure You Get Quality Invention Disclosures?

Here are five ways to improve the quality of the invention disclosures at your organization:

  1. Inventor-focused education 
  2. Walk it through – contextualization 
  3. Timely assistance
  4. Example invention disclosures
  5. Two-way communication between the inventor(s) and innovation manager

#1. Training And Education

It takes training to obtain good quality invention disclosures. Education should be inventor-focused. Explain the patent program and the invention disclosure form to your inventors. Provide insight into how the patent process works. Such an exercise increases engagement. 

Conduct the training at regular intervals including at new employee orientation to keep everyone updated with the patent policy of the organization. Create guidelines for filling the invention disclosure form to demystify what is needed.

A good quality invention disclosure requires a summary of the invention while highlighting its unique features. Also, encourage the inventors to attach detailed documents and drawings to provide an excellent description. Graphic representation leads to better understanding. It should quickly identify the problem, solution, and enhanced features compared to the conventional solutions. The inventors need to explain how the invention works and the value of pursuing a patent.

#2. Walk It Through

Contextualization is key. Apart from training and educating the inventors on filling the invention disclosure forms, you need to explain why it is essential. The inventors need to understand that the invention disclosure is part of a larger process crucial to the success of the enterprise.

Good quality invention disclosures help to:

  • Explain the new innovation
  • Simplify the evaluation process of patentability of the invention
  • Emphasize the chances at successful commercialization
  • Speed up the process by including all essential information

When the inventors understand the motivation behind good quality disclosures, they will be keener to write them better.  The better the innovation disclosure, the more likely that their idea is approved for patenting.

#3. Timely Assistance

Ensuring quick assistance when there is any confusion will speed capture by innovators. Often the inventors struggle with completing invention disclosures as they are not used to framing their contribution in the way. Make sure the inventors know where to seek help when they need it. Your organization can either appoint in-house personnel or outsource the task to IP professionals such as the patent attorney who drafts your patents. Establishing a good working relationship between the inventor and patent attorney will give the inventors insight into the essentials requirements for the invention capture.

#4. Examples

Provide the inventors and R&D staff with sample invention disclosures, where patents have been obtained successfully. If the corresponding product  is well known in the enterprise, that always helps.  Keep the invention disclosure form brief and straightforward, capturing only the necessary information. Allow them to include detailed documentation for the invention and drawings separately. At Triangle IP, we have created a simple, engaging, and customizable invention disclosure form (IDF), which is downloadable in both excel and word formats. Long and complex IDFs often discourage the inventors from filing invention disclosures. A well-written sample invention disclosure can be the yardstick for future disclosures to ensure high quality. 

#5. Two Way Communication

Try to understand the reasons behind low-quality invention disclosures in your enterprise. Address the issues of the inventors to tailor the process to how they are accustomed to doing things. Keep the channel of communication open between inventors and innovation managers with transparency in the process. It allows them to understand each other’s perspectives and how innovation progresses through the process. There has to be clarity about the expectations from the inventors with visibility as their ideas mature into patents. The innovation managers should also be aware of the enablers and blockers of invention disclosure to capture more innovation. The invention disclosure process has to be two-way communication.

Takeaway:

The better the invention disclosure, the easier it is for the innovation manager to push it through to a patent. The more information you can get into the process, the easier it is to evaluate and draft the patent application. The quality of the input data determines the quality of the output.

A good quality invention disclosure should:

  • Provide a solid background and characteristics of the invention 
  • Contain proper technical description, which is the heart of invention disclosure
  • Explain the key terms and jargon
  • Include a list of any known relevant prior art and how the invention is different
  • Be reviewer-friendly so the value to the enterprise is clear
  • Include diagrams or other pre-existing documentation

Find out ways to encourage more invention disclosures in the organization. Don’t miss out on patent protection due to a lack of invention disclosures or poorly filled disclosures.

Note: The preceding is general business advice and not to be construed as legal advice. IP laws vary by country and retaining licensed legal counsel is advised to confirm this information. Any expressed or implied opinions are of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Triangle IP or any other entity who might be associated with the presenter. We hope this content is helpful to you, but should not be relied upon without confirming the advice and accuracy with local legal counsel. Any comments or inquiries are not confidential so please discuss your issues directly with counsel.

Invention Disclosures | Enablers and Blockers

Do’s & Don’ts For Invention Disclosures

Not enough invention disclosures?

Your patent program may fall apart if your inventors are not submitting enough ideas to feed the pipeline toward patenting. The underlying reasons could be anything; from lack of inventor motivation to the process being confusing.

The progression of an idea from the invention to the patenting needs to be a systematic process with steady and sustained flow through the various stages. It starts with invention disclosure or capture where you would need your inventors to disclose their new innovation.

Let’s do a deep dive into the first step—Invention Disclosure and how you can begin a successful patent program.  

The Invention Disclosure / Idea Capture Form

Simply said, an invention disclosure form (IDF) captures an invention and surrounding details with the intent of possibly patenting. 

Invention Disclosures | The Blockers

Ad-hoc Process

Many companies don’t have a set process for filling IDFs. Some companies use simple forms for invention disclosures, and others have an online equivalent. Tracking of the IDF workflow might use makeshift approaches such as spreadsheets. Sometimes the only process happens with emails. 

Each of these processes has one or the other drawback as listed below:

  1. Non-intuitive for inventors without easy collaboration
  2. Possibility of loss of data in transitions with little transparency
  3. Long and complex forms act as a friction intimidating innovators
  4. Lack of real time updates on the progress from idea to patent

The Reluctant Inventor

Inventors like to create, but their disinterest in long forms is a hurdle. Sometimes, the inventors are too busy with other priorities and other times they shy away from the lengthy process.

There is a possibility of lack of motivation too for inventors to fill the IDFs. Either they are not aware of the importance of patents or there is not sufficient incentive attached with the disclosure process.

Long and Complex Forms

Inventors do not receive instruction on the patent process in university and don’t understand what information should go into the requested form fields. Vague questions frequently create a practical barrier for the first-timers, and a busy inventor might lose interest quickly for a tedious form. Eventually, a lack of guidance to fill out the right information also hampers an inventor’s interest.

Lack of Recognition

Have you motivated your inventors enough to fill an IDF? Positive reinforcement helps.

Those who are less familiar with technical documentation and publishing papers are more reluctant to fill out long forms. Tracking who is submitting ideas into the process and providing positive feedback helps socialize the importance of the patent program.

Lack of Awareness

Often, inventors simply aren’t aware of the patenting process, and they don’t know the benefits of protecting their innovation. Even if companies have a patent training course for their employees, maybe it only happens once a year. Ideally, the awareness starts with hiring, during orientation and should be reinforced frequently.

Sometimes, inventors harbor false perceptions of patents from the wrong sources. Explaining the strategic reasons for the patent program helps socialize the importance to enterprise success. Most companies are loath to enforce their patents as that would scare away participation.  Explaining defensive patent portfolio strategies that discourage others from preemptively suing while enhancing shareholder value with intellectual asset creation are more easily embraced strategies.

Invention Disclosures | The Enablers

You must sufficiently motivate the inventors to avoid the loss of patentable ideas. The unprotected innovations are given to the public domain if a patent is not quickly filed.  Here are a few tips to encourage engagement with the patent process:

Culture Change & Awareness

Conduct regular training for the inventors and IP teams. Educating new employees about the benefits of invention capture and how the complete process can improve your IP portfolio. Explain the strategies for building a patent portfolio. These are great opportunities to also invite industry experts to speak in internal forums. Consider workshops around innovation to motivate people further.

Explain the process clearly and as interactively as possible. Make available an IP expert(s) that inventors can seek out for guidance.

Rewards & Recognition

Creators need the motivation to spend time engaging in the process. Offer a bonus at different stages along the way to getting a patent. In addition to monetary bonuses consider giving them other rewards such as, certificates, manager recognition, and a voice in internal newsletters.

Seek Only What’s Necessary

The process of capturing innovation from inventors should have minimum friction. Long and complex forms discourage engagement. Hence, in the first go, seek only the necessary information with the IDF. 

Title

The title should be a one-line concise description of the invention.

Email

The form should capture the inventor’s email address for follow-up. Contact information about any manager or prosecutor would be a plus.

Summary

The summary should be focused on the following three most important things:

  1. Technical problem the invention solves
  2. Scientific or technical solution – the invention itself
  3. Advantages over existing solutions to the subject problem

Attaching existing diagrams, presentations, and other documents that add clarity towards understanding the invention better.

Keeping all the above in mind, we have designed the idea capture form with a very simple and intuitive approach via the TIP tool (an innovation management software) at TriangleIP. 

To download the Invention Disclosure Form, request below!

Download IDF in Word Format

Download IDF in Excel Format

The form limits necessary fields only to the invention title and inventor’s email. It also has a summary section where the inventor fills out the invention details in a problem-solution-benefits format. Don’t forget to tag your disclosure with keywords to make later searching and sorting easier.  The form further has few additional fields for subjective value, patentability estimate and any filing deadline.  Attach any file that provides more detail on your invention such as white papers, presentations, recordings, videos, etc. .

Here is another good read for you – “7 surefire ways to get more invention disclosures“.

Wrapping Up The Do’s & Don’ts For Invention Disclosures

The first step to creating a successful patent program is to set up a systematic process to capture ideas and manage their journey to patent protection. Invention disclosures are the beginning point in this program. Encourage your inventors to fill the disclosures by:

  • Keeping the process intuitive
  • Incentivizing the process of writing and submitting disclosures
  • Training the inventors on the importance of IP
  • Creating a culture of innovation that seeks to produce regularly
  • Simplifying and socializing the innovation management process

With these tips, we hope your inventors fill your capture program with an abundance of IDFs to feed your patent program.

Beyond the use of the downloadable IDF form we provided above, the TIP tool by Triangle IP can help you manage your patent program with it’s simple workflow and drag-and-drop features. Additionally, the tool is soon going to offer various analytics that can enhance patenting decision-making. Definitely give it a try! 

Note: The preceding is general business advice and not to be construed as legal advice. IP laws vary by country and retaining licensed legal counsel is advised to confirm this information. Any expressed or implied opinions are of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Triangle IP or any other entity who might be associated with the presenter. We hope this content is helpful to you, but should not be relied upon without confirming the advice and accuracy with local legal counsel. Any comments or inquiries are not confidential so please discuss your issues directly with counsel.

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