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Invention Analysis and Claiming:
The Inventor Interview: Self-Directed Learning Part III1

By Ronald Slusky

Ronald Slusky mentored dozens of attorneys in “old school” invention analysis and claiming principles over a 31-year career at Bell Laboratories. He is now in private practice in New York City. This column is adapted from Ron’s widely praised book, “Invention Analysis and Claiming: A Patent Lawyer’s Guide, (American Bar Association, 2007). Ron’s CLE-accredited two-day seminar based on the principles presented in his book will be held this May in New York, Chicago and Santa Clara.. Details at Ron can be reached at 212-246-4546 and

This is the third of three columns discussing the inventor interview technique that the author calls "self-directed learning." By contrast with the traditional, passive classroom-learning model, in which the inventor (teacher) determines what information will be presented, in what order, and at what level of detail, self-directed learning puts the patent practitioner (student) in charge, enabling him to teach himself what he needs to learn using the inventor as a resource.

Last month we looked at two specific inventor interview techniques that can be enlisted in the service of implementing the self-directed learning paradigm—Begin from a Known Starting Place and Proceed Slowly and Carefully. This month we look at two more: Don't Let Any Necessary Detail Get By and Engage Your Technological Curiosity

Don't Let Any Necessary Detail Get By

Part of proceeding slowly and carefully is controlling the pace of information delivery and gently restraining the inventor from moving forward until we are satisfied that either we have understood everything the inventor has already told us or that any details not understood do not have to be understood—at least not just yet.

This aspect of the process is encapsulated in the prescription Don't Let Any Necessary Detail Get By.


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