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Posts Tagged: "claim drafting"

Ten Common Patent Claim Drafting Mistakes to Avoid

Drafting a patent application is a complex task that involves dealing with several critical components of the patent application. If one must ask any patent attorney about the crucial aspect of a patent draft, the answer will always be “the claims”. Even the simplest of mistakes in claims can pose risk to a patent application. In light of this, the following article highlights some potential pitfalls to avoid while drafting patent claims.

What to Know About Drafting Patent Claims

In order to obtain exclusive rights on an invention, you must file for and obtain a patent. Many inventors will initially opt to file a provisional patent application to initiate the application process, which is a perfectly reasonable decision to make, and will result in a “patent pending” that can even result in a licensing deal. Ultimately, if a patent is desired, a nonprovisional patent application must be filed, and it is this nonprovisional patent application that will mature into an issued patent. U.S. patent laws require that the patent applicant particularly point out and distinctly claim the subject matter which the inventor regards as his or her invention. Any patent, or patent application, contains a variety of different sections that contain different information. Generally speaking, a patent is divided into a specification, drawings and patent claims. Only the patent claims define the exclusive right granted to the patent applicant; the rest of the patent is there to facilitate understanding of the claimed invention. Therefore, patent claims are in many respects the most important part of the patent application because it is the claims that define the invention for which the Patent Office has granted protection.

Patent Practice Training: An Introduction to Patent Prosecution

You’ve passed the patent bar exam. Now what? Having a license to practice is just the beginning. What you need is a bridge between passing the patent bar and representing clients. This is why Gene Quinn and John White designed An Introduction to Patent Prosecution: Patent Practice for Beginners. This interactive, live, online distance course will provide all the tools necessary to hit the ground running. From interacting with clients to agreements, to handling money, to drafting applications and responding to Office Actions, this course covers it all.

Software Patent-Eligible Subject Matter: Claiming Improvements in Computer Functionality

Particularize the claims.  This helps overcome the “abstract” part of a 101 rejection. Put details into the claims to define the steps performed in the software and hardware to a granular degree.  Don’t claim a result; claim the steps performed in accomplishing the result. That is, define the software computer program and hardware in discrete steps. Define what’s going on in each step of the computer program code. Go to the level of a software design engineer that annotates their code, to inform others as to what’s going on in the code.  If there is an algorithm claimed, particularize the claims to include the steps performed in implementing the algorithm.

Beware of Conditional Limitations when Drafting Patent Claims

Buried in the claim language, conditional limitations may be a vulnerability in an otherwise valuable claim. A conditional limitation is a claim feature that depends on a certain condition being present. For example, when or if condition X is present, feature Y is implemented or has effect. Without condition X, feature Y may be dormant or have no effect. Patent owners should be cognizant of possible conditional limitations implications because conditional limitations may affect claim validity and infringement as discussed below in the context of recent U.S. Patent Office and Federal Circuit cases. In Ex Parte Schulhauser, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“the Board”) held certain claims as unpatentable based on conditional limitations.

§ 112 Rejections: Where They Are Found and How Applicants Handle Them

In this article, we will explore both § 112(a) and § 112(b) rejections by taking a look at where they are most common, how applicants respond to them, and how successful those responses tend to be. Nothing herein should be interpreted as advice as to how a particular patent applicant should or should not respond to a § 112(a) or (b) rejection. It is instead an overview of the statistical trends surrounding these rejections and a general analysis of the most effective procedural means to overcome them.

Comparing and Contrasting European 2-part claims with US Jepson claims

European practice requires a strict distribution of the features before and after “characterizing”, where those prior art features that are common with the definition of the invention must be included in the pre-characterizing part. A useful way of thinking about a 2-part claim is that, schematically, the pre-characterizing part, taken alone, is a claim that covers the invention but is so broad that it covers also the closest prior art. This broad definition is followed by a characterizing part that specifies the features that confer novelty to the entire claim. Thus, the pre-characterizing part is is not a definition of the prior art but is a non-novel definition of the invention.

Drafting Patent Applications: Writing Method Claims

Method or process claims are relatively easy to write once you know what the core invention is and what is necessary to be included in the claim in order to overcome the prior art. Method or process claims will include active steps to achieve a certain result. In method claims the transition is typically either “comprising” or “comprising the steps of.” While legally there may be some distinction between these two different transitions, both are acceptable. It is also important to understand that each of the steps in a method or process claims use gerunds, which are a form of a verb that ends in “ing” and operates to direct the action that is to take place.

An Introduction to Patent Claims

The examination you receive from the patent examiner is never going to be any better than the patent claims you provide. If you provide preposterously broad patent claims and then add very few and perhaps common features to that preposterously broad claim in your dependent claims you are making it easy for the patent examiner to reject the preposterously broad claim and then also reject your barely narrowing dependent claims. Worse, you are left with absolutely no useful information about what the patent examiner thinks might be patentable. You are not in a meaningful position to know what prior art exists that the examiner will later throw at you, and you hardly have any useful basis to talk to the patent examiner.

Pursuit of Extremely Short Patent Claims

Dear Patent Attorney, Please stop filing extremely short, overly broad patent claims. I recently conducted a study to measure the effectiveness of various prosecution strategies. The study covered over a hundred thousand patent assets pursued by software companies, and for this sample, I found that filing extremely short, overly broad patent claims is a bad strategy in just about every way imaginable.

How to Get Broader and Good Quality Patents

Patents, for a long while, have been an integral part of business development strategy. Companies like ARM and Qualcomm, for example, have built their business around patents which constitute a major part of their revenue. And the quality of their patents, for sure, is playing a key role in it.

Patent Drafting: The Use of Relative Terminology Can Be Dangerous

The use of relative terminology, which are short-hand terms that express a certain similarity, are quite common in every day conversation, but are not always appropriate for patent applications, or more specifically for patent claims. This is true because patent claims must particularly pointing out and distinctly claiming the subject matter invented. Therefore, the use of relative terminology in patent claims should be carefully considered. Traps do await the unwary.

Was the Federal Circuit Trying to Save Us from Ourselves in Williamson v. Citrix?

In Williamson v. Citrix, the Federal Circuit overruled its own precedent that there is a “strong” presumption that claim limitations that do not use the term “means” are not means-plus-function limitations. This change has been decried by practitioners who purposefully avoid the word “means” in order to avoid means-plus-function treatment of their functionally claimed elements. Means-plus-function claiming is an opportunity to be embraced, not a trap to be avoided. Invoking §112(f) and the associated scope of a means-plus-function limitation is largely in the control of the patent drafter.

Functional Claiming of Computer-Implemented Inventions in View of Recent Decisions

The opinion focused on whether adequate structure corresponding to the “coordinating” function is disclosed in the specification. After determining that a special purpose computer is required to perform the function, the court searched for an algorithm for performing the function, but did not find one. The court rejected Williamson’s argument that the distributed learning control module controls communications among the various computer systems and that the “coordinating” function provides a presenter with streaming media selection functionality. The disclosures relied upon by Williamson were thought of by the court as merely functions of the distributed learning control module and opined that the specification does not set forth an algorithm for performing the claimed functions.

What makes a patent valuable; A patent broker’s perspective

In a recent article Toxic Asset, we explained in detail how much recent court decisions and new rules at the USPTO had negatively impacted the value of US patents. This is not to say that all patents are worthless, far from it. Actually, based on the fact that we have recently received strong offers on several of the portfolio we…