I have noticed a practice of putting "; and" before last statement in a claim.

For Example in US20140180885 (claim simplified to clarify question)

  1. A method for ... comprising the steps of :
    providing ... ;
    ... receiving ... ;
    ... generating ... at least one of a financial institution, a market participant, a grid operator, and/or a utility ; and
    ... sending or receiving ... .

At the same time all previous statements are separated just by ";"

What does this type of structuring mean? Why they are required? Why to use ; and?

3 Answers 3


Claims are required to be written in a single sentence form by the USPTO (MPEP 608.01(m)). Claims are also written in a complex manner and usually describe multiple aspects of an invention and tie the invention together.

A period may only be used in case of an abbreviation or to signify the end of one claim. An invention may have multiple discrete parts that require description in a single claim. Each part’s description maybe a long phrase and the semicolon facilitates the incorporation and differentiation of multiple phrases in a single sentence.

The semicolon (;) thus, allows one to incorporate multiple discrete parts of an invention into one claim while conforming to MPEP guidelines regarding the form of claims (MPEP 608.01(m)).

“And” is used in claim to signify that the following part/phrase is the last part/phrase in the claim.

For example see claim 11 of US20140030523

  1. Hydrous aripiprazole having an endothermic curve comprising a first endothermic peak at about 71° C. and a second endothermic peak around 60° C. to 120° C. in a thermogravimetric or differential thermal analysis (heating rate 5° C./min) and one or more of the following properties:

a powder x-ray diffraction spectrum comprising characteristic peaks at 2θ=12.6°, 15.4°, 17.3°, 18.0°, 18.6°, 22.5°, and 24.8° using a Cu Kα x-ray; and

an infrared absorption spectrum comprising infrared absorption bands at 2951, 2822, 1692, 1577, 1447, 1378, 1187, 963, and 784 cm−1 on the IR (KBr) spectrum.

The preamble of the claim states that the invention is described by one or more of the following properties and goes on to list 2 different properties. 1) A powder x-ray diffraction spectrum 2) An infrared absorption spectrum The two phrases are separated by a semicolon signifying that they are both part of the same sentence and yet are discrete. The second phrase “an infrared absorption spectrum” is preceded by “; and” indicating that the next phrase is the last phrase in the claim.


When you are reciting a list, it is conventional to put "and" before the last element, e.g., I own a dog, a cat, and a fish.

Claims are each required to be written as a single sentence. They are frequently very long, and written in a form like so.

  1. A widget comprising:
    C; and

where A, B, C, and D are usually long phrases which recite different elements in the claim. The semicolons are used instead of commas to help distinguish the breaks between claim elements, because the claim element descriptions themselves frequently contain commas.

Look at some of your claims and see if you can identify this pattern.

  • 1
    Would you mind providing a source for "claims are each required to be written as a single sentence". I know that's customary, but was genuinely unaware that this is a requirement. Thanks. Feb 9, 2015 at 23:02
  • yes its a requirement as per MPEP please see above answer.
    – Pushpak
    Feb 10, 2015 at 6:04
  • Dr. Stephen Falken: QUOTE: "Each claim should be a single sentence, and where a claim sets forth a number of elements or steps, each element or step of the claim should be separated by a line indentation." Source:uspto.gov/patents-getting-started/patent-basics/…
    Aug 20, 2017 at 7:20

The only statutory requirement for claims is found in 35 U.S. Code § 112. which says

The specification shall conclude with one or more claims particularly pointing out and distinctly claiming the subject matter which the inventor or a joint inventor regards as the invention.

Now for Single Sentence Claim We can find one direction under MPEP 608.01(m) which states that

While there is no set statutory form for claims, the present Office practice is to insist that each claim must be the object of a sentence starting with “I (or we) claim,” “The invention claimed is” (or the equivalent). If, at the time of allowance, the quoted terminology is not present, it is inserted by the Office of Data Management. Each claim begins with a capital letter and ends with a period. Periods may not be used elsewhere in the claims except for abbreviations. See Fressola v.Manbeck, 36 USPQ2d 1211 (D.D.C. 1995). Where a claim sets forth a plurality of elements or steps, each element or step of the claim should be separated by a line indentation, 37 CFR 1.75(i).

To satisfy Single Sentence Claim there are many strategies reported one of which is using semicolon to properly structure the claim. Based on preamble of claim (i.e. comprising, consisting, at least, group, steps of etc.) semicolon and linkers (i.e. and ,, or) are used.

These so called linkers after semicolons are used to provide simplified, distinct meaning. In this particular format the claim is very short, so it would most likely be placed entirely within the same sentence. Its very important be sure that the first letter of each "line" remains lower case. Note too that it is possible to have layers of semicolons.

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