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I'm writing the detailed description of a computer implemented system that involves a lot of steps that I describe using flowcharts at various levels of abstraction. If I was writing the documentation for this system I would be using headings for the higher level of abstraction steps, and subheadings for the various substeps involved in the implementation so that this structure helps with understanding. However, in a patent description I wonder if all these headings and subheading are going to be interpreted as limitations. The inventive subject is not on all the step, I just add all the steps to make sure I have sufficient disclosure. Probably I'll claim some of the main steps which would correspond to headings, but I don't think I'll claim every substep.

Any opinions on this?

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Generally headings and sub headings are good in patent specifications to help in readability - as in any long technical document. A key to not having headings or anything else be limiting is to characterize the entire description of it as a description of one version or embodiment or example implementation - not a description of "the invention". Of course that holds more weight if you do have a 2nd version to also describe. Also, in the U.S. there is no need to point out the "inventive step". Each claim is, respectively, taken as a whole.

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Thanks for your answer. Regarding what you say about “characterizing the entire description of it as a description of one version or embodiment or example implementation”, so far what I've been doing is for most steps I describe all the possible ways I can imagine of how to do the step and then describe in detail a preferred embodiment step. Some steps are unavoidable but others are maybe implementation specific, and I still explained alternatives for those. How would you see the headings/subheadings question on this type of description? – martinako Feb 16 '13 at 12:02
Would it be better to undo these alternative steps into whole alternative implementations of the system? It may end up being a very long description, I already have 18 pages of description text. – martinako Feb 16 '13 at 12:03
Best practice, but a lot of work, is to have "variations" of sub aspects of an embodiment and then also have a completely alternative embodiment, with its own variations. Not always doable. – George White Feb 16 '13 at 18:08
Claims stand on their own. The geren – user3261 Feb 22 '13 at 3:22

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