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Re: The patent process [Was Re: Sharing the Family PC is Patent-Pending]

From: Alun
Subject: Re: The patent process [Was Re: Sharing the Family PC is Patent-Pending]
Date: 12 May 2004 16:33:10 GMT
User-agent: Xnews/4.11.09

Barry Margolin <> wrote in"> 

> In article <Xns94E6E793BEE71elektrosmdonet@>,
>  Alun <> wrote:
>> It's hard to be precise, but much harder to do it plain language, and
>> I say that from experience. And, no it's not technical precision
>> that's required. The claims define the monopoly, and that's a legal
>> matter, not a technical one. 
> But shouldn't this be defined in terms of the technical features, 

It is

> and 
> hence use language that would be meaningful to technical professionals?

Whatever claim lanuage we use is going to be interpreted as a legal 
document, because that's what it is. This inevitably leads to a stilted 
style, even if we cut out the use of 'patentese' words. We could write 
something that looks more understandable and it might still not mean what 
you think it does, because there are rules as to how it has to be read.

There are also rules about how each term in the claim must be introduced 
and referred back to, which also leads to some pretty strange wording. This 
is more or less specific to the US. Other countries don't require this, so 
you can write something that looks more intelligible, but may be more 

>> The abstract is the place to give a good technical summary, but there 
>> isn't much downside to writing a bad one, plus you can use the same
>> one for a number of related inventions. 
> We've always been told that the abstract doesn't matter.

It doesn't, but we can be required to re-write it if it doesn't describe 
the invention.

> If a technical person is going to make any use of patents, shouldn't 
> they be able to understand them?  If the understandable part is the 
> abstract, but it doesn't really say the same thing as the claims, they 
> could be led down the garden path, thinking that they're not
> infringing. 

I think that tends to happen here in Usenet. The only real answer is to 
learn how to read claims.

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