|| Print ||
What is a Patent Claim?
The patent claim has been described as defining the “metes and bounds” of an invention, much like a real estate deed describes the metes and bounds of a piece of land. The deed describes the physical boundary of a piece of land; the patent claim defines the boundaries of an invention.
The patent claims are found in the patent document at the end of the detailed description of the invention. The patent document describes in great detail the features of the invention which make the invention unique, and thus patentable. Each patent claim distills the inventive features or elements into a single sentence. Each element is viewed as a “limitation” of the invention because it is a detail that is necessary as an inventive feature of the invention. Each claim sentence together with all the limitations in the claim determines the scope of the invention. Thus, the claims are the heart of any patent.
In order for an invention to be patentable, it must be new, novel and not obvious from what existed before the date the invention was created (known as “prior art”). You can read more on this in our section on patentability.
During the patent application process, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) examines the patent description and the patent claims to determine if the invention as defined in the claims is patentable. If the patent claim is so broad that it includes prior art, the claim will not be allowed. After a patent is granted, patent claims are used by the courts to determine the scope of the patent protection, and whether or not infringement has occurred. There is patent infringement if the potentially infringing action or device falls within the language of any patent claim.
Patent claims are often described as being broad or narrow in scope, depending on how broadly or narrowly the invention is defined in the patent claims. Broader claims give an invention greater patent protection, but may ultimately be rejected by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), or by the courts, because they cover inventions in the prior art, and thus would be invalid. Narrower claims may be more easily allowed by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), but provide the invention with less patent rights protection.
There is an art to crafting patent claims that are narrow enough to differentiate the patented invention from other similar devices, but broad enough to provide meaningful protection against infringement.
About Our Firm
Protecting your intellectual property rights is a complex business. If you suspect that your product might have been infringed, it may be advisable to rely on the expertise of an experienced IP rights lawyer to protect your rights. The Intellectual Property team at the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin is headed by Attorney Tara J. Williams, a patent attorney with more than 20 years of legal experience. The firm also has a unique contingency based Intellectual Property Department for certain infringement matters. The department’s goal is to assist small-business owners, artists and inventors to protect their creative endeavors when they may not otherwise have the resources necessary to do so. Call 1-866-760-4047, for a free, confidential review of your potential claim – or simply complete the contact form on the side of this page.