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Referring specifically to a computing device interface invention: when a substantially similar set of claim statements is being repeated under categories of "a method for," "a system for," "a computer program product...," and possibly also "a computer device for," what are the differences in wording that need to be applied to claims statements in each of these groups?

  • I don't unterstand what your question is, could you clarify please? – DonQuiKong Jun 12 '17 at 7:12
  • See the answer below in which the question was understood. – Charles Jun 12 '17 at 14:21
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Method

A method is the simplest: it simply comprises a series of steps. There is no obligation for any hardware to be included at all, though in most cases there will be some mention of the method being performed on a computer or the like.

But a simple example of a method would be:

1. A method, comprising:

receiving a message;

performing a calculation in response to the message; and

sending a response based on the calculation.

System

A system has some more nuance to it. It is generally seen as an error to include method steps directly in a system, since a system comprises physical things, not intangible steps. One common approach is to nominalise the steps as components:

2A. A system, comprising:

a receiver adapted to receive a message;

a processor adapted to perform a calculation in response to the message; and

a sender adapted to send a response based on the calculation.

Historically, these would be "receiving means", "processing means", and "sending means". However, such "means plus function" terminology is now held in the US to be limited to precisely the options provided in the description. It is therefore seen as generally a risky approach to explicitly say "means"; hence, the "receiver" above.

But using this approach is not risk-free as well. One day, in principle, such terms might well be seen as "means plus function" too, despite not including the word "means". Unfortunately, there is no real alternative to get a system claim with its broadest scope without any real system features that avoids such a risk.

If you don't mind narrower, an alternative way is to use a pseudo-method claim:

2B. A system comprising a processor and a memory, the memory comprising instructions which, when executed by the processor, cause the system to:

receive a message;

perform a calculation in response to the message; and

send a response based on the calculation.

This requires software (as instructions), so would almost certainly exclude pure hardware implementations from its scope.

Computer program products

A relatively rare European form of claim is a computer program product. This would typically be of the form:

3A. A computer program product, comprising instructions which when executed by a computer, cause the computer to:

receive a message;

perform a calculation in response to the message; and

send a response based on the calculation.

The US equivalent is the Beauregard claim, which is directed to a computer readable medium:

3B. A non-transient computer-readable medium containing instructions for causing a computer to:

receive a message;

perform a calculation in response to the message; and

send a response based on the calculation.

  • Thanks, that is very helpful. A follow-up/related question: Is the phrase "configured to" only appropriate in a "device" claim, or is it also appropriate in a "system" claim? Should it be avoided in a "method" claim or a "non-transient computer-readable medium" type of claim? – Charles Jun 12 '17 at 15:27
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    @Charles Devices and systems are the same thing basically. A device is generally a portable hand-held thing, but the distinction is pretty minor and weak. "Configured to" or "adapted to" or the like can be used in either. But only a physical thing can be adapted, so it wouldn't really be appropriate for a method. – Maca Jun 13 '17 at 0:20

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