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Patent-related Terminology

10/01/17 Patent-related Terminology

Patent Terminology

As requested by one of our lawyers who receives our daily E-Legal Lessons, we are including some Patent-related terminology:


A grant by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) that allows the patent owner to maintain a monopoly for a limited period of time on the use and development of a new innovation. The USPTO grants three types of patents: utility patents for useful, new, inventions that are not obvious to those in the field; design patents for new and original designs that ornament a manufactured product; and plant patents for new, asexually or sexually reproducible plants.

Patent Claim

The portion of a patent that establishes the legal boundaries of the invention — that is, the exclusive rights of the owner. Patent claims are written in a formal style and precise terminology, and they serve as the basis for any determination of patent infringement. During the application process, patent claims are often the subject of intense negotiation between the applicant and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

Patent Deed

The official document (sometimes referred to as letters patent) that is sent to an applicant by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office when the applicant’s patent issues.

Patent Defect

An obvious flaw in a product or a document (such as leaving out the property description in a deed).

Patent Infringement

The unauthorized manufacture, sale, or use of (a) a literal copy of a patented invention, or (b) an invention that performs substantially the same function in substantially the same manner as a patented invention.

Patent Pending

The status of an invention between the time when:a utility patent application has been filed and when it is issued or rejected, or the time between when a provisional patent application has been submitted and when a subsequent patent application is issued or rejected. Inventors mark their devices patent pending in order to place others on notice that they claim priority. Patent pending status does not bestow any legal right to stop copying.

Patent Search

A search of all existing or publicly available information to determine whether an invention is new (novel) and whether persons with ordinary skill in the field could have deduced it (nonobvious). A patent search usually begins with a review of previously issued patents, and progresses to other types of documents, such as journal articles and scientific papers describing unpatented inventions. The most thorough patent searches are performed by professional patent searchers at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Patent Roll

Disparaging term for someone who sues for patent infringement but who does not make or sell any product using the patented technology.
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