The first step towards protecting an invention, design, or idea is to organize your thoughts so that it can be understood by others.
It is important to explain your invention thoroughly as this information will be used by patent professionals, patent examiners at the US Patent Office, and potential investors, manufacturers, partners, etc. Make sure that someone in the field of your invention can use your invention write-up and be able to understand how your invention works and how to create it. Only information that is disclosed, can be protected by a patent. Below are some guidelines on how you should put your invention thoughts to paper to create a invention write-up based on what type of patent you are trying to obtain. For a better understanding of the difference between utility and design patents, read the article Utility or Design Patent?
Utility Patents: If you have an invention with a unique function, it would require a utility patent application. To describe such an invention, you should cover: (1) What the invention does or accomplishes, (2) How the invention works to accomplish its objective, (3) The components or steps of the invention, and (4) How the components are arranged and how they work together. Next, prepare a visual to accompany your invention write-up. A visual should aid in the understanding of your invention by showing what the invention and its components look like. If your invention is a method or process, a process chart or flow diagram can help illustrate the invention. Visuals can be hand sketches, computer illustrations, or photographs.
Design Patents: If you have an invention with a unique look which needs protecting, it would require a design patent application. An invention write-up for a design invention would require several views of your design so that it can be fully understood. Hand sketch or use a computer to illustrate your design, making sure unique elements of the design are clearly shown.
After you have put your "thoughts to paper", contact an Invention Consultant who will collect this write-up and have a patent application drafted and submitted for your invention.