Suppose I've invented a hoverboard (Claim 1) and furthermore it can optionally have wheels that can be lowered for effect (Claim 2 reciting the machine of Claim 1 further comprising the wheels).

One way to write the specification is to have a single embodiment where the description states that the wheels are optional. Then, assuming the mechanism of my hoverboard is not involved, I could have a single drawing which shows the wheels (along with the rest of the hoverboard).

Another way is to write up two separate embodiments (perhaps the one with the wheels can refer to the description of the wheel-less embodiment to save on duplication). For this approach, I am not clear on whether one would need two drawings, or whether the wheel-less embodiment could just refer to the wheeled drawing but only describe the common parts.

Is one approach to be preferred over the other? Does the second approach require two drawings? Is it always better to have a wheel-less drawing to adequately support Claim 1?

EDIT: We must assume the mode of disclosure is through flowcharts, so the options are limited to labelling the wheels as optional on one drawing, or having two separate drawings.

  • Two drawings? Why doesn’t it take 10 or more to explain what it is and how it works?
    – George White
    Feb 22 at 6:28
  • Do the hover and wheel mechanisms interact? Can it land smoothly to transition from air to land in a special way, for example?
    – George White
    Feb 22 at 6:30
  • @GeorgeWhite I think I see what you're getting at - why not have a drawing with a generic detail-less hoverboard and the wheels and additional drawings with hoverboard details that ignore the presence or absence of the wheels. But when the mode of disclosure is by flowchart (an assumption I unfortunately left out of the question) the options seem limited to labelling certain steps optional or having two separate flowcharts, one with extra steps. I will edit the question to specify the mode of disclosure as flowchart.
    – bhuff36
    Feb 22 at 18:08
  • The whole point of the drawings and text description is to support the claims. You would do well to think through all the claims necessary to protect the invention and then make sure the rest of the patent adequately supports them. IMHO you should strongly consider consulting with a patent attorney or agent to do this.
    – Eric S
    Feb 22 at 22:31
  • 1
    @EricS Indeed, I plan to consult with patent attorneys, but I want to make a draft of my own first that can serve as a starting point from which to make any needed legalistic and stylistic improvements. Also, consulting with a patent attorney is hardly a panacea b/c of the low rate of feedback in the patenting industry. If a patent attorney writes a patent in a bad style this may only be revealed to be a problem when it is litigated a dozen years later or so. I think the only defense is to seek multiple opinions and have one's own well calibrated common sense. Just my 2c.
    – bhuff36
    Feb 23 at 0:36


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