The process of acquiring a patent starts well before you file a patent application. A patent application is based on an invention that starts with an idea. Ideas themselves are not patentable, but as the idea becomes concrete and substantial details can be used to describe an idea, it traverses the path to become an invention.
From a strictly legal point of view, your invention must cover enough detail so that someone of skill in the field of the invention understands how to both make and use the invention. Your invention should be understandable only using a description but preferably also includes multiple patent drawings. The patent drawings should be high quality preferably made using a professional CAD software.
You should be able to transform your idea into a user manual explaining both use and structural components or mechanics of the invention. Professionals working in R&D, Individual innovators and people new to IP or patent lifecycle are particularly good at describing the use or function of the invention while lagging in describing the mechanics. Insufficient or incomplete description of the technology from a structural and mechanical perspective is the biggest pitfall in patent application process.
You should be able to describe “How” of the invention more than “What”. Inventors and new patent professionals spend lesser amount of time how their invention operates on a mechanical, structural and electrical level to perform the function described. Patent drawings helps in the technical writing of an invention. You should be describing each drawing and how different components are connected and related to each other on a structural level.
As for the process of moving from idea to invention phase, we recommend inventors to record detailed notes of their ideas. Try to identify the exact problem you are trying to solve and keep adding ideas and thoughts into the documents layer by layer. As the details keep pouring in and you create multiple layers of your solution, you will be able to cross that invisible boundary between an idea and an invention.
Once you have enough details to cross into Invention Territory, you are now ready to file for a patent. However, conducting a patent search is warranted at this juncture to be able to judge whether your invention will get patent protection or not. What is means is if your invention is novel, non-obvious to a person of skill in the same technology domain & useful in the industry.
Although as the current laws in most jurisdictions are “first to file”, a recommended best practice would be to file a detailed Provisional Patent Application (PPA). This will require you to describe the invention both in general terms and specific terms from a function and structural viewpoint. This step is important to obtain a valid priority filing which will be used during filing completed non-provisional patent application. A patent search can be conducted both before and after filing a PPA. This will help an inventor protect his invention with substantial cost & effort savings