Patent Claims: The Basics

April 30th, 2020 ‧ 3 min read

Table of contents

What Exactly Is a Patent Claim?

A patent claim is undeniably an essential, if not the most crucial part of a patent’s specification. A patent claim establishes the boundaries of the patent, a patent claim explains precisely what is claimed by the invention and consequently what is to be protected. A patent claim concisely articulates specifically what the patent covers and what it does not cover.

To put it simply, the scope of protection that a patent has is determined by the patent claims. A patent claim is typically communicated as a description or statement of technical facts, usually using legal terminology, outlining the scope of the invention.

An example of a patent claim
Read the claims of the patent you wish to find out here.

Is a Patent Claim Important?

The patent claim is of paramount importance. A patent claim is the section of the patent specification, which highlights to any third parties what they can and cannot do—after the patent has been granted—as far as the invention is concerned.

The patent claim defines the right of exclusivity, which is given by the grant of a patent. Any errors made while drafting a patent claim could render the patent worthless. Since the patent claim is the part of the patent specification which defines the scope of protection granted by a patent, it is evident just how important it is. The remaining parts of a patent specification just help to give a detailed explanation of the invention in question.

From a legal perspective, a patent claim is used to establish the outlines of any legal rights after the patent has been granted. Each patent specification must include a patent claim or patent claims that determines the scope of the invention for which protection is sought.

How Do I Draft a Patent Claim?

There is no one-size-fits-all method for drafting a patent claim; each patent claim depends on the type of invention involved; the processes used also depend on what kind of protection the patent applicant endeavors to claim on the said invention.

Depending on the type of protection sought by the applicant, the claim may be constructed broadly or narrowly in relation to existing prior art. However, attention must be paid to guarantee that the patent claims are not too broad—meaning that they must not include what the applicant hasn’t invented—or too narrow—risking the applicant losing out on vital protection. Since the nature of drafting patent claims can be somewhat problematic, it might be worth utilizing a professional to assist with such a task.

Different Types of Patent Claims- Independent and Dependent Claims

Fundamentally, patent claims fall into two categories: Independent claims and dependent claims.

Independent claims:

Independent claims are considered to be ‘unattached’ claims. This means that they do not refer to or relate to any other claim(s). Independent claims include an introduction or preamble and all the components required to establish and define the invention.

The initial claim is ordinarily an independent claim that sets the precedent for the protection sought by the invention. Independent claims are frequently broader compared to dependent claims, this is to deter would-be infringers from bypassing the independent claim.

There are typically three types of independent claims:

  • A claim for something
  • A claim for a way of making something
  • A claim for a way of using something

Dependent Claims:

Dependent claims always refer to an earlier claim or an independent claim and limit their scope. Dependent claims are consequently comparatively narrow as they limit the scope of a previous claim. Moreover, dependent claims hone the protection that is sought for an invention.

Additionally, dependent claims might also include further nonessential characteristics and even the trivial aspects and optional features that are not specified in the independent claim.

These are the primary types of patent claims. Overall, patent claims need to be drafted carefully, with meticulous attention to detail, to ensure that the invention receives the patent protection required and to make sure that the invention is guarded against infringers.

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