As the title says: Can an inventive step for an electronic based product be shown in a mere block diagram?

I have an idea for a product and the components are a tablet or phone (on one side) and an Arduino microprocessor (on the other side).

If a block diagram was drawn up, showing how the product worked in block diagram form, could the block diagram be sufficient to show the inventive step required for patentability?

In the particular circumstances where there is not a working model of the thing described in the block diagram. Only it being assumed the engineering required (software and hardware) is likely fairly straight-forward to accomplish, along with signals, outputs and inputs marked on the block diagram.

  • If I'm asking the wrong kind of question- admin please remove. Thanks. – R R. Nov 19 '17 at 12:49
  • Just in case this enables any further comment in answers: I have a situation where the output from a tablet is novel. (outputs being audio, visual, vibration etc). And I can show the output in a block diagram. However, and this might be critical, the software for the app running on the tablet, or the code for the app has not not been written yet. Although I am sure it's a something of a fairly trivial matter to write the code. So, the new thing is not in existence. Is that fact very important? All I can say is app produces x output. But there is no actual working example. – R R. Nov 19 '17 at 18:10
  • Could you edit the comments into the question? – DonQuiKong Nov 19 '17 at 18:30
  • I added a bit to the question. That might call for a rethink on the answer(s). Hope that is better. – R R. Nov 19 '17 at 18:52
  • If there is software involved, flow charts can be used to improve the chances that the application will be seen as enabling. – George White Nov 23 '17 at 0:39

The whole of the patent application describes the invention including the background, prior art, description of the technology and preferred implementations. I have definitely seen patents including electronic and software patents whose figures were solely block diagrams. However, the text in the patent application needs to reference the diagrams and explain how they work and why the invention is novel. Thus, while the figures may only be block diagrams, the patent application as a whole is clearly more than that. As for whether you need to show code or a working example, I believe the answer is no, the figures and description should be sufficient.

  • Check ops comments, they clarified the question. – DonQuiKong Nov 19 '17 at 18:30
  • To be technical - patent applications do not require a description of the background/prior art and it is generally not good practice to do so explicitly. – George White Nov 23 '17 at 0:38
  • @GeorgeWhite Interesting. It seems common in my patents. In any case anticipating the examiner’s objections when drafting the spec seems to help when countering obviousness objections. I’d appreciate any edits to my answer you would feel would improve it. – Eric Shain Nov 23 '17 at 2:55
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    When I was busily drafting patents (nearly 20 years ago), it was common practice to recite the closest prior art as the basis for distinguishing your claimed improvements. – Upnorth Nov 27 '17 at 22:04
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    @GeorgeWhite I tried to edit the answer to be more consistent with this discussion. – Eric Shain Mar 20 '18 at 22:30

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