Note: This article is part of a series on how to write a great patent application.
Writing a claim for a patent application is a difficult task to do well. Many factors go into it:
- Who are you trying to target for infringement (e.g. manufacturers, users, third-party component manufacturers)?
- Which aspect of the invention do you claim?
- Do you present a claim that is narrow to increase patentability or broad to increase breadth?
- Do you present method claims or apparatus claims as Claim 1?
These advanced topics are well beyond the scope of this article. For now, write one apparatus claim.
How to craft a basic apparatus claim
An apparatus claim has a preamble, a transition phrase, and a list of the invention’s elements (i.e. parts). You can use these three parts of the apparatus claim as a template for claiming the product. When writing a claim for the first time, don’t get too creative. Aim to be straightforward.
Related resource: What is a patent claim?
How to craft a basic preamble for a claim
The preamble can be written in the following way for our tripod example:
- An apparatus for [insert function of the device]
- E.g. An apparatus for supporting a camera
- A [insert generic name of the product] for [insert function of the device]
- E.g. A tripod for supporting a camera
How to add a transition phrase to the claim
The transition phrase can be “comprising,” “consisting of,” and “consisting essentially of.” Most patents and patent applications use “comprising” as the transition phrase. Use it for your first claim.
Here’s where we stand for our tripod example:
- An apparatus for supporting a camera, the apparatus comprising:
- A tripod for supporting a camera, the tripod comprising:
Related resource: Transitional phrase in a claim determines scope of patent protection
How to add a list of elements to the claim
In the outline, you will have a list of parts. These are what patent attorneys refer to as elements. They are also called limitations. List those parts in the claim as follows.
For our tripod example, a tripod has legs and a ball head. List those elements in your claim.
Below is a basic claim for our tripod example:
1. A tripod for supporting a camera, the camera comprising,
a ball head.
The problem with this claim is that it doesn’t describe:
- How the legs are related to the ball head.
- What is new about the tripod.
Here is a better claim that provides context to the list of parts:
1. A tripod for supporting a camera, the tripod comprising,
a ball head wherein the legs are pivotally attached to the ball head.
Below, I added the inventive part of the tripod:
- A hat for protecting a user’s head, the hat comprising,
a ball head wherein the legs are pivotally attached to the ball head;
a button with the spring biasing the button outward, the button operative to apply a friction force to a ball of the ball head to set an angular position of the ball head.
Now, it’s your turn. Write a basic claim for your invention.
These are the fundamental rules for writing a claim:
- Each claim is one long sentence. That means there is only one period at the end of each claim. You can break up the thoughts with commas, semicolons, and colons.
- The first time you reference a term (e.g. hat), you write “a hat.” The second time you mention a term, you write “the hat.”
- Use terms consistently.
Here are additional resources for writing a basic claim:
- Software inventions are patentable depending on how you claim them
- Claim drafting tip: Focus on direct instead of indirect infringement
- Claim drafting tip: Avoid means plus function claims
Disclaimer: Use the information in this article at your own risk. It takes many years to learn how to draft a well-written patent application under the guidance of a senior patent attorney.