Lessons from the “Nut Wizard”

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Inventions are often born out of a desire to improve upon current market products. If this is the case with your invention, clearly pointing out prior art that your invention has improvements over is useful information to include in a patent application.

One example of a patent application that includes discussion of prior art is for the “Nut Wizard” (U.S. Pat. No. 6,460,249 B1), a rolling basket with a handle that is used to pick nuts and fruit off of the ground.

The patent application for the “Nut Wizard” does a great job of emphasizing improvements made over other devices in the same space. For example, the “Nut Wizard” application points out how U.S. Pat. Nos. 3,215,293 and 3,604,190 includes axles that run through a basket, which may be difficult and expensive to produce. Then, to clearly contrast this prior art, the “Nut Wizard” application explains features that make it simple and inexpensive to construct.   

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Pointing out disadvantages in prior art and how your invention addresses these disadvantages is a strategy that may improve prosecution efficiency. For example, it is less likely that you will need to re-explain improvements over this prior art through an Office action response.

Learning from the “Nut Wizard”, do not be shy to point out disadvantages with previous approaches. Your patent application is a chance to point out all the great features of your invention and why these features are improvements over other products out there. Getting specific with the prior art that your invention has improvements over not only highlights advantages of your invention but also can make patent prosecution go more smoothly.