Introduction to patent litigation, claims, and limitations, Part 2

Part 2 of my six-part introduction to patent litigation, focusing on patent claims and the “limitations” that comprise claims, has appeared at

Patent Litigation Part Two: An Introduction to Patent Claims, “Limitations,” Infringement, and Invalidity

Part 1 discussed how patents help turn inventions into tangible, protectable property, and made the following points:

  • A patent by itself does little, and needs enforcement primarily through litigation or credible threat thereof.
  • Indeed, the patent property is largely a right to sue others for infringement.
  • Patent infringement is similar in some ways to trespassing on land.
  • The actionable part of a patent is its ‘claims.”
  • A patent claim is like a collection of stakes marking out the perimeter of a patented invention.

Part 2 makes the following points:

  • Patent claims serve as devices for testing patent infringement and invalidity.
  • Patent claims are made up of limitations, which are selected elements or steps implementing an invention.
  • The set of limitations comprising a patent claim is not complete, but instead the subset necessary to differentiate the claim from prior art, while still trying to leave a wide scope of infringement.
  • The size of a patent claim is an indication of claim scope (e., whether a claim protects a large or small area of technology).
  • Adding limitations generally reduces claim scope, but generally increases likelihood of validity.
  • ‘Claim construction’ uses the patent specification (and a hierarchy of other sources) to interpret the meaning of terminology in a claim.
  • The boundaries of patent property are determined in part by steering between infringement and invalidity.

Upcoming articles in this series will cover topics such as comparing a patent claim to an accused product, defending against patent infringement, investigating possible infringement or invalidity, and using claim charts for analyzing infringement and invalidity.

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