Structured Claim Drafting

Stephen Becker has a useful technique for improving the quality of your claims. (Article).

1. List the elements sought to be protected and their interrelationships.
2. Analyze each element asking:

a) Is the element necessary for preserving functionality?
b) Is the element needed to distinguish over the prior art?
c) Can the element be generalized in a way that retains claim novelty?
d) Can elements be combined in a way that retains claim novelty?

3. Review the entire claim, discarding any words not absolutely necessary for functionality or novelty.

According to Stephen:

Sanitizing the wordage, generalizing terminology and combining claim elements will improve the likelihood of literal infringement, because a competitor will find it more difficult to argue persuasively that a claim element is missing, from its competitive product or service.