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I am writing claims for a patent application for an invention that includes a person, an office, and a vehicle. The person and the office communicate; the office and the vehicle communicate; the persons and vehicles do not communicate with each other (the "persons" and "vehicles" here are more than just naked people or empty cars, they possess other claimed means and items).

When I am writing my claims I am running into a problem in that I must refer to each of these before I define them, for example:

I claim:

A person equipped with means to communicate with a dispatch office (but have not defined dispatch office) ...

Or:

I claim:

A vehicle, suitable for transporting persons, and equipped with means of communicating with a dispatch office (but have not defined person or dispatch office)...

Or:

I claim:

A dispatch office, equipped with (blah blah Beauregard claim) and a means of communicating with persons and vehicles (but have not defined persons or vehicles)...

etc.

How in general can I avoid referring to something without first defining it? If A touches B touches C touches B touches A, how do I claim A and B and C?

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1 Answer 1

Claims are very very hard; this problem is easy. "A system comprising: an X, a Y and a Z where . . . ". In the ellipsis you define the relationship between the elements. There is no need to explain each item as it is introduced. You can list the parts and then define their relationship to one another.

Also, pay attention to what is positively part of the claimed thing and what you are mentioning that is not a proper part of the claimed thing but that the claimed thing is defined in terms of. For example in the third example you are listing a dispatch office as a required part of what it takes to infringe. Only an owner of a dispatch office has the first ingredient. In the second case, for someone accused of selling the invention they must be selling a vehicle.

Separately a human can't be patented. That covers cloning but it also covers your first example. And "means for" has a specific meaning that is not in concert with it seems to mean. And to exaggerate a little, the term "means of" in your examples has no clear meaning in a claim.

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Thank you. My invention connects passengers, who may be traveling in groups, to vehicles. The "group of passengers" (which may only be one person) is a star actor in the drama, and my rough draft is littered with such groups. How do I include a group of people with an origin, a destination, and a cell phone (or "means of communication" suitably defined) in my claims? I am not patenting people, but moving them is the final object of the invention. –  Wascally Wabbit Nov 21 '13 at 7:22
    
"A method of providing directions [or planning a trip, or avoiding dangerous locations, etc] comprising: Xing. Ying, and Zing. –  George White Nov 21 '13 at 16:36
    
" . . . by a member of a traveling party: communicating the party's location, electronically to a dispatch office; communicating a desired end point, electronically, to the dispatch office; receiving from the dispatch office a next step in a set of actions to take; driving according to the next step; repeating the communicating, and the receiving and the driving, whereby the desired destination is reached." This simplified framework may help. –  George White Nov 21 '13 at 17:34
    
Concerning the second case, if I have a vehicle and driver bearing a console for communications, if I wish to include the console as a claimed item (but not the vehicle or driver), then I would claim "a console with means for wirelessly communicating [blah, blah] , said console carried by a vehicle suitably equipped for the transport of persons ....". But does that include the vehicle in the patent? How do I claim a console carried by a vehicle without including the vehicle? I don't think much is lost by including the car; the invention is pretty useless without a vehicle. –  Wascally Wabbit Dec 30 '13 at 5:09
    
To infringe a claim a single party needs do/sell all of the claimed items. Unless the car and the console are made or sold by the same entity there is no direct infringement. The wording you suggest would not be claiming the car but you say "the console . . . when carried in a vehicle . . . provides route information determined by . . . " Again, avoid "means for", use a noun, like "comprises a wireless transceiver". –  George White Dec 30 '13 at 5:31
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