How to Read a Patent – It’s All In the Claims

How to Read a Patent - It's All In the Claims from The Startup Garage
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It may seem simple, but reading a patent and fully understanding what the patent actually covers can be rather difficult.  Let’s begin by reviewing the main sections of the patent.  First, we have the patent identification information: the patent number, title, patent holder’s name, owner of the patent (if different), the filing date, the issue date and cited references.  Next, we have an abstract which outlines the type of the invention and its basic functions.  We then have the patent specifications which explain how to develop and use the invention.  We then have drawings of the invention.  Lastly, and most importantly, we have the claims, or the legal limitations that the patent covers. 

While the specification will cover the invention in general, it does not represent the patent’s legal coverage.  Claims are usually very specific and do not cover many of the key functions of the invention as described in the specification.  Claims come in two primary classifications, independent claims and dependent claims.  Dependent claims incorporate an earlier claim and an additional element making a new, slightly different claim.

Constructing your claim can be very difficult and will likely include several rounds of modifications during the patent prosecution process.  Saving money on your startup by claiming a patent on your own and avoiding the cost of patent and I.P. lawyers, may sound like a good idea.  However, if you are not familiar with the claims process, you will likely find that the process will be difficult and time consuming.  Even worse, your start-up’s patent may not cover key claims that will protect your invention down the road.

Whether you have a question about Reading Patents or you’d like to discuss our business plan writing services, feel free to contact us for a free consultation!

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About Tyler Jensen

I work with entrepreneurs who are looking to attract investment and get out of the "Garage". I am passionate about helping entrepreneurs start companies that matter. I helped launch over 100 Companies, Non-Profits and Social Enterprises. I consider myself a serial entrepreneur, startup coach & trusted advisor. * Launching New Companies (For Profit, Non-Profit and Social Enterprise) * Expert Business Plan Writer * Extensive Network of Business Relationships focused on Launch & Rapid Growth of New Companies * Startup, Growth, Marketing, Technology, Web, Business Systems * Trusted Advisor to CEO’s & Entrepreneurs * Capital Raising Strategy Development * Startup Team Development The first company I started and sold is VAVi Sport & Social Club which grew to over 25,000 members in six years, was recognized as San Diego’s 30th fastest growing private company in 2006 by the San Diego Business Journal and 32nd fastest in 2007, and sold for over 25X the capital investment.