An apparatus claim is a claim directed to a product. A method claim is directed to the steps of a process. All claims are either apparatus or method claims. For example, a software claim is a type of method claim unless it is directed to the system then it is an apparatus claim. A product claim is an apparatus claim. A chemistry claim is an apparatus claim unless it recites the steps for making the chemical compound then it is a method claim.
What are the different types of apparatus claims?
The different types of apparatus claims include:
- product claims;
- software claims;
- component level claims; and
- fintech claims.
Generally, speaking, apparatus claims are described by the product it is trying to cover. For example, claims directed to software products are called software claims. Claims that cover a product are called product claims. Claims can even be directed to a component of a product. We would refer to these claims as component-level claims. However, legally speaking, these loose categorizations have no significant meaning in interpreting the claims.
What are the different types of method claims?
The different types of method claims include:
- a method of manufacturing a product;
- a method of using a product; and
- a method of assembling a product.
However, these are merely loose categorizations of the claims. No legal significance is attached to a label that you put on a claim.
What is the purpose of each type of apparatus and method claim?
The purpose of each type of apparatus and method claim is to make a certain entity or person infringe on the claim. For example, a product claim is infringed by the manufacturer, the distributor, the retailer, and the end user. The manufacturer infringes the claim by making the claimed invention. The distributor and retailer infringe the claim by selling or offering for sale the patented product. The end user infringes the claim by using the patented product.
A component-level claim is infringed by the supplier of such a component.
A method claim can be crafted so that the assembly of the product or performing certain steps infringes the claim. Businesses that assemble products would infringe such claims.
The basic concept you need to understand is that the claims are crafted in a way to maximize the patent owner’s ability to assert infringement and sue for damages. You have to craft the claims so that they are directed to the right infringer and not automatically just go to a product claim. It might be more beneficial to protect the method of manufacture.