Common Terms Used in Patent Claim Language

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The following terms and their meanings may prove helpful in deciphering the arcane language of patent claims.

about (used when the applicant cannot provide a specific quantity) “The thread engagement is undone by rotating the lid unit about 90 degrees from the tightened position.”

contiguous (used to indicate elements are touching) “Each slide-preventing stop has an upper end surface that is contiguous to one side edge of the upper end surface.”

device for (interpreted as “means for”) “It is an expansile device for use in blood vessels and tracts in the body and tension application device for use therewith and method.”

disposed (used to indicate a part is positioned in a particular place) “A snap-action spring member is disposed in a cut portion formed in the outer lid.”

further including (used in dependent claims to add additional parts) “ ... said lid unit further including a generally L-shaped spring member.”

heretofore (used to refer back to something previously recited) “There have heretofore been strong user demands that such an indication should be provided on the top of the lid.”

indicium (singular for indices; used to recite something that a human can recognize, such as a mark or a sound) “ ... so as to provide a field gradient operative to provide an indicium of the linear position of the shuttle.”

means for (used to claim something broadly in terms of its function, rather than specific hardware) “It is an additional object of the invention to provide a compact means for pumping a medicament.”

member (used to recite a mechanical part when no other word is available) “ ... attached at one end to a drive member and at the other end to a fixed point on the base of the pump.”

multitude (used to recite a large, indefinite number) “In addition, the programming time itself increases to accommodate the multitude of different programming thresholds.”

pivotably (used to indicate that a part is rotatably mounted) “The blade is pivotably carried at one of its ends around a support shaft.”

plurality (used to introduce more than one of an element) “ ... a ROM memory having a plurality of reference potential transmission lines.”

predetermined (used to state that a part has a specific parameter) “Programming stops when the gate threshold voltage has reached a certain predetermined point.”

providing (used to recite a part in a method claim) “Oxide-nitride-oxide layers are formed above the channel area and between the bit lines for providing isolation between overlying polysilicon word lines.”

respectively (used to relate several parts to several other parts in an individual manner) “A left and a right bit are stored in physically different areas of the charge trapping layer, near left and right regions of the memory cell, respectively.”

said (used to refer to a previously recited part by exactly the same word) “ ... said memory cell having a first region and a second region with a channel there between and having a gate above said channel.”

sandwiching (used to indicate that one part is between two other parts) “Further, the thinner top and bottom oxide sandwiching the nitride layer helps in retention of the trapped charge.”

slidably (used to indicate that two parts slide with respect to each other) “The charging roller bearing is slidably fitted in a guide groove.”

so that (used to restrict a part to a defined function) “The cup holders are usually provided with annular grooves or vertical flutes so that the holder is only in contact with the cup.”

substantially (used to fudge a specific recitation) “The side plate which has the hole is also provided with a toner filling opening substantially shaped like a right triangle.”

such that (used to restrict a part to a defined function) “These grooves or flutes provide a structural integrity to the cup holders such that they must be packaged in substantially the same form as they will be used.”

surrounding (used to indicate that a part is surrounded) “The elastic sealing members exactly cover the corresponding lengthwise end portions of the flange surrounding the recessed surface.”

thereby (used to specify a result or connection between an element and what it does) “Said sleeping bag is supported by said carrying straps and carried thereby on one’s back.”

thereof (used as a pronoun to avoid repeating a part name) “Said back wall each being padded and being of equal width, being joined at the sides and the bottom thereof.”

urging (used to indicate that force is exacted upon a part) “By pressing the rod against the urging of the spring, the link members straighten out.”

whereby (used to introduce a function or result at the end of a claim) “Whereby the handle portion attaches to the handle of the device by the securing mechanisms.”

wherein (used in a dependent claim to recite an element (part) more specifically) “A portable printing device as claimed in claim 13, wherein the shutter member includes ...”

Portions of this article are derived from Nolo's Patents for Beginners.