In the race toward a greener future, battery technology is at the heart of the green technology revolution, powering everything from electric vehicles(EVs) to mobile devices.

Significant strides in the EV market require a focus on improving battery capacity, charging efficiency, and battery lifetimes. But there’s a catch — building out distribution stations for EVs is expensive, limiting how far these cars can travel.

Inventors have been racing to find solutions.

Behind the scenes, unique challenges arise when seeking patent protection for battery advancements, whether in use, packaging, composition, or storage. To tackle these complex issues and successfully ride the invention wave, having attorneys with technical battery expertise is critical, and here are a few of our tips to help navigate the process.

Unleashing the Power of Battery Technology: Patent Considerations

Battery technology is a hotbed of patent activity and publication due to its significance in green tech and other industries, and patenting battery innovations goes beyond simple compositional formulas. It requires a comprehensive description that highlights the novel and inventive features of a battery technology, including any unexpected results that result from the battery technology. However, the rapid advancements and extensive research in battery materials, compositions, and packaging can make patent considerations complex.

When drafting patent applications, it’s crucial that the features of a battery technology be fully and properly represented by the patent claims. Well drafted patent claims can increase the chances of overcoming prior art challenges during the examination process.

From EV battery range to charging speed, to composition, and even further to morphology — the shape, structure, and size of electrochemically active particles within a battery electrode — such features are emerging as key factors in distinguishing a battery technology over competing solutions in the market. To safeguard these innovations and pave the way for further advancements, it’s essential to navigate the patent landscape with precision.

Mastering the Patent Application Process: Unique Challenges and Strategies

Battery patent applications present unique challenges that require careful planning and execution. Because this field is heavily published and patented, it can be crucial to demonstrate novelty and unexpected results to overcome existing literature.

For example, when patenting battery materials, it’s useful to include written descriptions that tie the following features to any advantages asserted in the patent application:

  • Unique composition,
  • Crystal structure,
  • Morphology, and
  • Phase changes.

The right patent attorney with a technical background in battery technology and materials science can guide inventors through these challenges, increasing the chances of successful patent prosecution.

Crafting Content in a Crowded Market: From Materials to Packaging

Battery technology encompasses not only battery materials but also the packaging and performance aspects of a battery or battery bank. Proper packaging plays a crucial role in ensuring safety and preventing catastrophic failures, such as thermal runaway due to an internal battery short.

The preparation of a strong patent application includes the following considerations:

  1. Describe the features of the invention that address known problems and explain why these features provide unique solutions to the problems.
  2. Plan the content of the patent application well before its filing and focus on how to best support the novel and inventive aspects of its claims. The planning process can include a risk mitigation plan where you brainstorm on how others might try to circumvent the claims. This can be useful in preparing claims that make it difficult for a competitor to develop a workaround.
  3. Provide a lot of examples. The more examples you can provide, the greater your ability to answer the “why” and show what about the invention is truly new and not obvious. Items such as graphs and charts and very clear descriptions are extremely valuable in the patent application — especially when approached from the standpoint of a scientist or engineer.
  4. Ensure a close collaboration between the attorneys and inventors to establish clear connections between the features of the invention and the new or unexpected results they allow. These features should differentiate the invention from existing publications, such as issued patents, published patent applications, and technical literature.

Due to the collaborative nature of the patent drafting process, especially between the legal team and the inventors, you can ensure a better outcome by choosing an attorney with a materials science background. It could make a difference in getting a successful outcome during patent prosecution.

Maximizing Priority in a Rapidly Changing Landscape: Application Types

In a field as dynamic as battery technology, provisional applications can be a valuable tool for securing priority in a rapidly evolving landscape. A provisional application can be used to describe an invention, and when filed, provides a timestamp for the invention that grants provisional protection to the invention for one year. However, provisional applications are not examined or published, and anything you discover or invent after their filing cannot be subsequently added to their description. Provisional applications are available in the U.S., expire one year from their filing date, and are typically used as the basis for subsequent applications that provide formal patent rights.

Unlike provisional applications, non-provisional applications are formal patent applications that are examined by the U.S. patent office. A non-provisional application may be based on an earlier-filed provisional application, and if so, can claim the benefit of the latter’s earlier filing date. Such priority can be valuable in excluding prior art, especially in a field as heavily patented and published as battery technology. Non-provisional applications require the presentation of claims for examination, and the language of these claims describes the invention for which legal protection is sought.  While provisional applications offer temporary protection and flexibility, non-provisional applications are essential in obtaining a granted patent and enjoying full patent rights.

Expert guidance from a knowledgeable attorney can help navigate the application selection process and devise a comprehensive filing strategy, including international options like the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), which is an international treaty enabling inventors to seek patent protection simultaneously in multiple countries by filing a single international patent application. The PCT also offers a longer time frame for applicants to decide in which countries they want to pursue patent protection.

Harnessing Technical Expertise and Legal Acumen for Success: Packaging it Together

The success of a battery patent application relies on the seamless integration of technical expertise and legal acumen. Partnering with experienced legal professionals who possess a deep understanding of battery technology and patent prosecution is paramount. Your legal team must adeptly identify novel features, strategically work with inventors to draft patent claims, and address potential challenges driving green innovation forward. In the ever-evolving realm of battery innovation, engaging qualified attorneys with the right technical expertise is essential for inventors and companies seeking a competitive advantage.

The team at Henry Patent Law Firm understands the complexities of patenting technology in this exploding field. We also understand how to navigate the USPTO’s examination process, and we have significant experience obtaining accelerated examination status for U.S. patent applications. Contact us today to find out how we can help.

Brent Clothier, Ph.D.

Brent Clothier, Ph.D., is a registered patent agent. He excels in the preparation and prosecution of domestic and international patent applications.