Attorney at Law

Claim: Intellectual Property

What is a Claim?

A patent claim is an important part of a patent application that defines the boundaries of protection for an invention or creation. The claim stipulates the exact features that will be shielded from infringement by the patent and describes the exclusivity the applicant will receive and outlines third-party rights that will come into effect once the patent is granted. Technical descriptions or statements are frequently used in patent claims, which are often written in legal language.

Key Takeaways

  • Patent claims are the part of the patent application that stipulates what will be covered and what will not be covered by the patent.
  • Each patent must include one or more patent claims that establish the scope of its legal rights.
  • Errors in patent claims can lead to serious problems in infringement cases.

Types of Patent Claims

There are two main types of patent claims: independent patent claims and dependent patent claims. 

Independent claims stand alone and do not necessarily need other claims in order to be complete, although patent applications may include more than one independent claim. Independent claims are generally more broad than dependent claims to set a precedent of patent rights and prevent infringement. They usually describe the invention and how it is created or used.

Dependent claims, on the other hand, cannot stand alone and must depend on either an independent claim or another dependent claim. These claims cannot extend the scope of protection defined in the initial independent claim. Usually, dependent claims narrow down the scope of the patent and provide further details about what will be covered by the patent. For instance, these claims may describe the shape or color of an invention or creation.

Writing Patent Claims

Different types of patents and inventions require different methods for drafting patent claims. However, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has set several general requirements for patent claims. According to the USPTO, if there are multiple claims, they should be numbered consecutively. Moreover, claims should not rely on references to the description or drawings of the invention. There are additional guidelines regarding patent claim amendments.

Bottom Line

At first glance, claims may seem like a simple part of a patent claim. Even so, you may want to think twice about handling patent claims on your own. The process can be tedious and confusing, so having a trusted intellectual property attorney on your side will help you navigate it. Patent claims are written in complex legal language, so it can be especially beneficial to work with someone who knows and understands it. Additionally, it should be noted that errors in patent claims can lead to major consequences. You may not be able to sue someone for infringement if your patent claim does not adequately protect your invention.

Get in touch with one of our intellectual property lawyers for help writing your patent claims.

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