Question N – Answer

If you want to know what is actually covered by a granted patent, you will look at:

Answer: 6

“the claims”

Why? The claims are the part of the patent specification that set the boundaries of what is subject to the right to exclude others.  A claim describes in legal terms what the patent rights holder owns. The meaning of the claims is determined by the language of the claims, aided by the text of the patent and the “prosecution history”, the record of the patent examination process. In the case of a patent application, the claims delimit what the applicant wishes to ownand have no legal force.

The specification, also called the disclosure, is the written description of the invention. It comprises the title, the abstract, the drawings, and the text of the patent, comprising the background, summary of the invention, the detailed description of the invention, and the examples. Not all patents have each of these sections.

The title of a patent is like a headline of a newspaper; it is not necessarily indicative of the scope of patent protection. The abstract of a patent gives a general idea of what is contained in the patent specification, but it is also not necessarily complete.  Unfortunately on many patent databases, searching is limited to titles or abstracts.  This limitation is not in the public interest.  The text of a patent is a valuable resource for getting to know the particulars of the invention, including its advantages, the problems that it is intended to solve, how the invention was achieved, other possible ways of generating the same result and how to practice the invention through different examples. Despite the comprehensiveness of the detailed description, it does not delimit the subject matter protected by a patent; aspects described in this section serve to illustrate and clarify the invention and how the inventors envision the invention could be applied.  Matter that is described in the specification but not covered in the claims may be free to use, unless it’s covered in another patent!

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