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AFAIK, the patent application must disclose enough so that an average person in the art can understand how to make the same thing.

The question is, does it apply to the invention or apply to the final produce?

For example, an invention on an untested concept, while it discloses enough for those in the art to understand what and how to make the invention, but the invention is not practical, e.g. it needs other technology achievement to work, does this match the sufficiency of disclosure?

For example, let say the invention is about a zigzag gun barrel, for example to shoot through complex corner or shield. While the concept of the invention is easy to understand and make, there is no material strong enough to withstand that design, which means the invention can not be made in practice. So is this disclosure sufficient at the time it filed?

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Enablement requirement of patentability requires one to describe the invention in a clear and complete manner such that a person skilled in the art would be able to perform the invention by referring the disclosure. Another requirement of patentability is that the invention has to be useful, in other words, the invention should be feasible to be made and used in an industry. Now when you say “there is no material strong enough to withstand that design, which means the invention cannot be made in practice”, it may mean that with existing technology or materials available or mentioned in the prior art, the invention may not be successfully made or used in an industry, hence may face rejections from the Examiner on grounds of insufficient disclosure during Office Action.
You may visit the link http://www.invntree.com/blogs/enablement-requirement-of-patentability for details on sufficiency of disclosure/enablement.

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At the time of filing, the application needs to teach how to make it use it with the available technology. If further invention is needed before it can be made and used at all, you haven't invented it yet. However, with the information and technology at the time of filing it does not need to work well or be ready for production. In the U.S. it still required to include the best way you know to make it and build it - no holding back the secret sauce.

In the zig zag barrel it may be that no material is ever developed with the required characteristics for it to work at all.

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  • Hmm, I think that comes to how you interpret the invention. E.g. anyone who "invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter", then the zigzag barrel should be considered an useful process rather than a complete device? Or do you reject that the zigzag barrel is not a new and useful process? On another example, let say a method to process data in real time, but at the time of filing, no processor can process it in real time, but in 2 or 5 years then it can be done in real time, can it be patented? – user2174870 Nov 19 '14 at 3:29
  • Someone who can't get a zig zag barrel to work has a wish, not an invention. The march of technology can we relevant. Optical mice, for example, work by looking in high resolution at the surface under them and comparing it to what the surface look like a few milliseconds earlier. Someone could have thought of that in 1985 and showed how it could work if the mouse just had a sensor and the computing was done by a a Cray connected by a cable. That's enabled. But if the claims said, "with a computing device that fits in the hand-sized mouse", then I would say it would not be enabled in 1985. – George White Nov 19 '14 at 3:46

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