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Terms of Degree

Jim Ruttler, Patent Attorney

Posted Saturday, April 17, 2010 by Jim Ruttler

Claims that include terms of degree risk being invalidated for being indefinite. Examples of terms of degree include words such as substantially, approximately, readily installed, and the like. If these terms are used in claims, it is important to consider drafting other claims, such as dependent claims or other independent claims, that provide further specificity to the terms. These additional claims can serve as backup in the event the broader claims are invalidated. Additionally, providing a standard for measuring or determining the scope of the terms of degree should be included in the specification. For example, the specification can include details that substantially generally means above 50% or that approximately means within around 1 to 2 inches. The disclosure of such standards can minimize the chance of claims containing such terms being found indefininte.

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