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My invention involves people using machinery (computers, cars, cell phones, etc). I have been warned on this forum against including people as elements of a claim. Are the rules for specifications as strict? For example, I have a console within a vehicle as part of my invention. I have taken pains to exclude the vehicle itself from the claims, but without a human operator interacting with the console, the vehicle is sort of inert. Can I draw a driver in a car interacting with a console, or does that make a car and a driver part of the invention? Can I depict a passenger?

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No problem. In the spec. and drawings you need to tell and show everything you can think of about what it is and how it is used. The users of patented devices and people carrying out patented methods are often portrayed.

People can also be mentioned in claims as long as they are not an element of the claim. If it is a method claim only actions are elements, not things, so you are safe with those. Two examples from recently issued patents are:

  1. A method for monitoring an individual, comprising: providing a monitoring system having a control device in communication with appliances; determining a routine usage of the appliance by an individual; prior to an alarm situation, alerting a first third party that the individual is using the appliance by displaying, in real time, the individual's use of the appliance on a display, the control device measuring and determining a maximum allowed time of usage of the appliance, . . .

  1. A machine for processing, storing and handling health care information, comprising: at least one appliance device adapted to implement an individual-centric health information model, said appliance device adapted to be incorporated into an existing network or information technology system, said appliance device comprising the following components:
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