In a few months, we will know more about how the en banc Phillips v. AWH decision will be used precedentially. However, there are a few key points to take-home today.
1) The game is no longer about careful claim drafting — now, you must carefully draft the entire patent document.*
2) Be absolutely consistent between the claims and the specification. A stray modifier of a claim term in the specification can easily lead to unintended consequences.
3) Every word in the claims will be read in the context of the specification. Therefore the desired scope of every claim term must be fully supported in the specification.
4) Your initial reaction may be to make the ensure that the specification contains no limiting features. — That approach may not be the best. Your patent will be worthless if it attempts to cover the entire world of technology. Focused patents that stay within their bounds can be extremely powerful.
5) Give the courts 6–months to sort out some details. — But, set-up a docket reminder for January 15, 2006 for a review of all pending applications to (i) ensure that current claim terms are properly defined within the specification and (ii) whether any preemptive amendments are be in order.
- * Of course, you were doing this already.
- University of Pennsylvania law professor Polk Wagner has been writing extensively about claim construction for the past several years. His thoughtful comments and criticism of my tips are available here.
- Profs Wagner and Joe Miller (Lewis & Clark) have proposed that patent drafters should “leave nothing to chance” and present a glossary of claim terms in the specification. This “clear thinking” approach would be helpful down the road when you are trying to spot infringers as well. Comment?