Sorry for the dumb questions but as an engineer I am trying to file a patent myself.

I was advised to copy the existing patent that is very similar to mine and start by modifying it for my own idea.

My question is:

When writing an independent claim, will it be considered as a valid new patent if I slightly modify it like adding a new component? My background is academia where using the same expression can be considered plagiarism but I heard it is not the case in patent writing. Is it true?

E.g Claim 1 of the existing patent is consists of an image sensor and a lens whereas mine has one more component in the middle beam splitter. So, if I use all the words and descriptions of the existing one and add a new description on the new component or slightly modify the original sentence, will it be okay?

1 Answer 1


I would avoid word for word copying of anyone else's work. Patent documents have copyright protections. Instead, I would use the prior patent as a template. Rewrite each section tailoring the content to your invention. In addition, I would highly recommend employing an actual patent attorney or agent to draft and process your application. You are much more likely to get a patent that provides actual protection of your invention.

Also be advised that just adding a step or component to an existing patented invention is unlikely to provide you with freedom to operate. In other words, while you may (or may not) get a patent on the use of the additional component, you could still need to license the previous patent in order to sell your invention. The previous patent's owner is under no obligation to license their patent to you.

  • Thank you for the valuable advice! I didn't know about copyright protection on patents. Commented Dec 6, 2021 at 21:51
  • @ChanohPark Pretty much all written material gets copyright protection automatically. You can get additional protections by registering a copyright.
    – Eric S
    Commented Dec 6, 2021 at 22:26

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