• Mark Standke

Patent phrasing explained

Patents are the most commonly known intellectual property certificates. They ensure the protection of well-defined inventions within the jurisdiction of the issuing authority.

Well defined is of course the tricky part. Patents try to define their scope of protection in so called claims. Those define which steps or parts your invention necessarily and optionally comprises. Imagine you are applying for a patent concerning a novel “vaccine”. How do you know if there is overlap between your application and another applicants “antigenic protein” or “immunogenic composition”? How long would it have taken you to come up with such related phrases? – More than 10 seconds? Feel free to continue reading.

Coming up with related phrases is surprisingly hard, while being extremely important at three stages in a patent lifetime.

  1. Application: In order to write a patent with maximal coverage, it is important to allocate unpatented spots within the “vaccine” area. Of course, it is not enough to search for just “vaccines”, but also for related words, that have an overlap in terms of meaning to your desired application. If you fail to uncover such related phrase patents, you risk coverage reduction even after granting. Using diverse wording makes it less probably that your patent is flagged as relevant in an early stage.

  2. Examination: An examination often depends on the skill of the examiner in your field of invention. They are usually well trained and need to come up with the same related words as you did during the writing of your patent. Using exotic words therefore might help to avoid finding a lot of relevant prior art.

  3. Monitoring: Your monitoring is just as good as the amount and accuracy of key words it covers. Applications that use rare words in a specific field often fly under the radar. It is therefore worth to revise those phrases on a regular basis and adjust to novel formulations.

Generally, it is hard to grap the diversity of patent language as a whole and even more difficult to evaluate similarities between given words within the context. This may change, stay tuned ...

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