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Patent Filing & Litigation

The Dangers of a Poorly Written Defensive Publication

Publishing defensively is a strong IP strategy that offers unique benefits when compared to patents. However, in order to fully realize the potential strengths of defensive publications, you must treat them with the same attention to detail as your patent applications. Leaving the writing of a defensive publication up to your researchers and engineers—instead of an expert—simply because it isn’t going to become a patent is dangerous.


The technical communicators behind our editing services explain the dangers of a poorly written defensive publication. These experts, all based in the US, spend their days formalizing invention disclosures into defensive publications that protect our customers’ intellectual property.

Poorly Written Documents Increase Risk

Ideally, your defensive publication helps you mitigate risk. A strong, well-written document is both discoverable and defensible. A poorly written defensive publication is a liability that can expose your company to risks. A document that fails to meet necessary standards isn’t doing its job protecting your intellectual property; it’s like a guard dog that loves everyone.

Innovative companies are continually improving their technologies. However, a weak defensive publication that fails to properly describe and protect your foundational invention can make it hard to continue along a potentially rewarding line of innovation.

One of the benefits of a defensive publication is its discoverability in databases that include non-patent literature. A poorly written document can be more difficult for competitors to find quickly, especially for non-native speakers and searchers outside your field.

These risks all leave soft spots for your competitors to question—and potentially take advantage of.

Common Defensive Publication Mistakes

Before you say, “That won’t happen to me,” let us discuss some of the mistakes we often see in invention disclosures. These issues are completely acceptable in internal documents like an invention disclosure. However, they are dangerous when shared with an external audience and relied upon to protect your company’s freedom to operate.

If you see any of these elements in your defensive publications, it’s likely time to turn to a professional before publishing.

  • Writing a stream of consciousness that includes irrelevant details.
  • Failing to organize into necessary elements, such as a description of the problem and the novel solution with proof of enablement.
  • Communicating in a non-native language.
  • Sharing identifiable or proprietary information about the inventor or their employer.
  • Using passive voice, which adds ambiguity to the description.
  • Formatting inconsistently.
  • Including persuasive language.