What is an Integrated Drafting Environment?
Software developers use the term “Integrated Development Environment’’ to describe a set of comprehensive functionality designed to improve their productivity. Wikipedia refers to it as “a software application that provides comprehensive facilities to computer programmers for software development.” Don’t patent professionals benefit from a set of comprehensive functionality in their patent drafting software that has been designed to increase their productivity and improve their patent quality? We think they do, and our client surveys show that they do too. We call this the “Integrated Drafting Environment”.
This should not come as a surprise. Highly skilled and trained professionals in many different industries have enjoyed customized tools unique to their specialties for decades. Architects have long had CAD systems, accountants and CFOs have specialized accounting and tax systems. Sales professionals use highly dedicated customer relationship management systems.
Just like other professionals, patent practitioners perform highly complex tasks and have demanding clients who require sophisticated deliverables. The unique structure of claims and specification as well as drawings, chemical structures and biological sequences are all critical elements of a patent, but many of the existing standalone tools do not bring these elements together. The synchronization of the various elements of a patent application among multiple tools is left to the patent practitioner, adding unnecessary time and introducing the potential for inconsistencies.
Many patent practitioners have a notebook on their desk or file folders on their computers that hold claim dependencies, parts lists, chemical sequences, markush definitions, or sequence listings. They switch back and forth between their notes and the tools they use for pieces of their patent application,
A truly integrated drafting environment solves this problem. It is built for the specific needs of the development of a patent application. It connects the claims and the elements of the specifications – drawings, chemical structures or formulas. The sections of the application are connected and kept consistent by the system, not the patent practitioner.
How does an integrated drafting environment work?
At the end of the day, the claims are the most important element of a patent. But the claims need to be supported. A tool that only assists with claims does not really support the patent practitioner’s entire work environment. An integrated drafting environment provides all of the functionality needed to support those claims within one system, including:
- An editor that allows the writing of the claims and specifications
- For applications in fields such as computers, software, and mechanical, a drawing tool that allows the development of figures
- For chemical and biotechnology applications, a tool that supports the inclusion of unique chemical compounds and biological sequences
- Automation tools to automate repetitive tasks – for example, generating a natural language summary of the claims or building a flowchart from a claim
- All of their notes and content in one location, automatically synced
- The ability to re-use content and create templates easily
And the most important thing, all of these elements are interconnected, so the software keeps them synchronized, saving time and reducing errors.
An integrated environment is not only for an initial patent draft
A patent application does not stop with the initial draft. Some sources report that over 85% of patent applications receive an Office action, and many receive more than one. An integrated drafting environment will extend beyond the first draft to support responses to Office actions, with functionality allowing the patent practitioners to research and draft their response. The prosecution elements of an integrated drafting environment include:
- A tool to build a package of files such as:
- Cited art
- Customized response shell
- Examiner statistics
- The ability to amend the claims with automated markup styling and synchronized amendments to parallel claim elements
- Customized templates for rejection responses stored within the system
- View of issues, claims, examiner remarks and cited art that can all be viewed together, interactively, in order to efficiently prepare the response without toggling among different applications
- Bibliographic data on the application
- Predictive examination statistics
- USPTO file history
When considering the various patent drafting software options on the market like Rowan Patents, PatentOptimizer, Patent Bots, ClaimMaster, or specif.io, consider whether they provide a truly integrated drafting environment, or a tool that is functional, but leaves much of the synchronization to the user.
The drafting of a patent application is complex work, with many interconnected pieces. To improve productivity and reduce errors, all with the aim of higher quality patents, a sophisticated system is needed to support the patent practitioners who tackle the work. They deserve an integrated drafting environment. Such an environment with its ability to keep the elements of a patent synchronized, allows the patent practitioner to deliver a better product.