1. What Are the Claims of a Patent?
2. Dependent and Independent Claims

The claims of a patent determine an invention's scope and are the most crucial part of establishing patent rights.

What Are the Claims of a Patent?

The rights granted by a patent are measured by the claims of a patent. When someone who owns a patent files a lawsuit for patent infringement, it is because another person has sold an invention that matches the claims of the patent. The claims of a patent function in a similar manner to the boundaries that are established in a real estate deed.

When patent prosecution takes place, patent claims will be examined very carefully. The scope of coverage granted by a patent depends on the novelty of the invention described in the claims. The fewer novel features that must be used to separate the invention from other patents, the more expansive the coverage will be.

In other words, if an invention relies on a variety of new features to distinguish itself from previously patented inventions, then the scope of its patent will be very small, making it much easier for someone to copy the invention without committing patent infringement. Clearly indicating in the patent description the parts of the item that you consider to be your invention will make it easier for you to earn exclusive rights. Numerous sections contain a wide range of information in both patent applications and patents.

Typically, a patent will be broken down into three sections:

  • Patent claims.
  • Specification.
  • Drawings.

While all the sections of the patent are important, only the claims of the patent grant rights to the invention. The other sections of the patent are used to help people understand the invention. When filing for a patent with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), you will need to fully describe your invention.

If you need to rearrange your application, you are allowed to do so. New material, however, cannot be added after the application has been filed. To determine the scope of coverage for your invention in your patent filing, you can use the drawings that you have submitted and the information you have included in the specification.

Thanks to the Patent Law Treaty Implementation Act, you can acquire a filing date for non-provisional patent applications without submitting drawings or claims of a patent. You can file patent claims any time you wish, as long as the information included in your original filing will reinforce these claims. Failing to submit drawings, however, can be very risky, and will likely result in your patent application being rejected.

It can be nearly impossible to submit drawings after a patent application has already been filed, which is why including drawings with your initial filing is usually a strict requirement. The reason for this is that drawings usually contain more information than a description of the invention.

When you're submitting your claims, you should also file a non-provisional patent application. In a non-provisional patent application, any claims that are included will be considered original claims. Original claims are important because they provide support to themselves and are a part of disclosure.

Dependent and Independent Claims

In patents, there will generally be two types of claims: dependent and independent. An independent claim is very broad, and dependent claims are used to narrow the focus of the independent claim. Independent claims stand by themselves and are used to cover all the information that is important for describing the invention.

Independent claims come in three forms:

  • Claims made for devices, machines, or compositions of matter.
  • Claims made for a method of producing something.
  • Claims made for using something.

Dependent claims will refer to the independent claim and are used to refine this claim. Generally, it's very easy to write dependent claims as they will include limitations of the independent claim. It is very common for patent applications to include independent claims, as including more than three independent claims results in fees. Typically, a patent application will include one independent claim and then a large number of dependent claims.

You should keep in mind that each dependent claim that you include in your patent should further limit of the independent claim to which it refers. One of the easiest ways to narrow a claim is to add more elements to the patent.

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