Patents in the United States are governed by the Patent Act (Title 35 of United States Code) as amended by the Leahy–Smith America Invents Act. There are three types of patents: utility patents, design patents, and plant patents. The most common type of patent is a utility patent.
A patent application is best filed before any public disclosure of the invention. In the United States, there is a one (1) year grace period from the inventor's own public disclosures of the invention to file a nonprovisional patent application or a provisional application. You should be aware that certain international jurisdictions do not afford a grace period and any prior enabling disclosure of the invention in the United States may foreclose the grant of patent protection in those countries having an "absolute novelty" requirement.
An inventor is free to prepare his or her own patent application; however, you are well-advised to seek the help of a patent practitioner. The preparation of an application for patent and the conducting of the proceedings in the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to obtain the patent is an undertaking requiring the knowledge of patent law and rules and USPTO practice and procedures, as well as knowledge of the scientific or technical matters involved in the particular invention. While a patent may be obtained in many cases by persons not skilled in this work, there would be no assurance that the patent obtained would adequately protect the particular invention.
An "invention disclosure" is a confidential document written to describe an invention. As an inventor, you need to set down in writing, both, a general description of your invention, as well as a detailed description of the complete version of your invention. The aim is to provide in highly specific terms the various nuances of each and every aspect of the invention. You might try to describe the various options, combinations, and characteristics that make up several different versions of the invention. A description of the problems that the invention solves and the inadequacy of existing systems in solving these problems also would be helpful. In addition, it is strongly recommended that you describe the previously unknown key features of the invention and explain why those features are not obvious in view of the existing technology and why those features are advantageous or valuable.
To obtain a patent, the "specification" section of a patent application must contain an adequate disclosure of the invention for which patent rights are sought. This patent law requirement is known as the written description requirement.
The patent law in the United States requires a complete disclosure of the invention such that a person of ordinary skill in the area of technology related to the invention can, after reading the disclosure, make and use the claimed invention without undue experimentation. This patent law requirement is referred to as the enablement requirement. The courts have stated that written description and enablement are separate, albeit intertwined, requirements.
The patent specification is a written disclosure of invention that is drafted to satisfy patent written description and enablement requirements as well as to define the claim's scope. The level of detail needed in a patent application may vary depending on the simplicity or complexity of the invention and the level of ordinary skill of persons familiar with the area of technology related to the invention.