A passage from the NOLO's "Patent Pending in 24 hours" 6th ed. pp 124 indicates

Be sure to include a disclaimer to introduce your advantages section as we have done above and if possible, avoid referring to your invention as an "invention". The simplest way to do this is by using a statement such as: "Various aspects of my [name of invention] may have one or more of the following advantages ..."

Why not refer to the invention as "the invention"? Any 'pitfalls' to avoid are appreciated.


My understanding of the term 'invention' is a device, process, or both. That being said, the only interpretation that really matters interprets the term to somehow be limiting: I am seeking to understand the thought \ interpretation behind this limitation and avoid patent 'profanity'.

Other examples of 'profanity':

chief, majority, critical, essential, necessary, solely, only, main, significant, principal, important, fundamental, and vital

Snippet example that is unclear regarding why the court (unfavorably) narrowed the scope:

The Federal Circuit once again highlighted the effects of “patent profanity” in Research Corp. Technologies, Inc. v. Microsoft Corp., 627 F.3d 859 (Fed. Cir. 2010). In this recent case, Research Corporation Technologies, Inc. (Research Corp.) filed a patent seeking to claim priority of earlier-filed parent applications. However, Microsoft Corporation (Microsoft) argued that Research Corp.’s use of the characterizations “the present invention” and the “objects of the invention” in the specification of the parent applications strongly suggested that the claimed invention is limited in scope. Because of these assertions, the court sided with Microsoft and read the claims narrowly.

2 Answers 2


If you say "the invention includes a widget", this can be seen as equivalent to saying that a widget is an essential feature which must be present. This means that if a claim omitted the widget, it would not be allowable or enforceable.

However, if you say "one embodiment of the invention includes a widget", then this implies that other embodiments of the invention do not have a widget. The widget is therefore optional, and need not appear in your claims.

Some practitioners take this to mean that you should never use the word "invention" (as implied by your quote). I disagree. As long as you use "invention" carefully (that is, when you are actually talking about the invention, and not merely an embodiment), it is a useful tool in your toolbox.


It is proper to interpret claims in light of the specification. It is not proper to "import" limitations from the specification into the claims. This was a relatively clear line until a decade or so ago. Now courts often find some wording in a specification that they look at and decide that they now know "what the inventor invented" or "what the inventor intended". Then they narrow the claims. A few years ago people started publishing lists of words they called "patent profanity" including must, necessary, and the worst one, "invention". If you are careful you can use invention but it is very easy to not use it carefully so I recommend avoiding it.

  • I think avoiding "invention" is a neat trick if you want to avoid to accidentally state something you didn't intend to, but if you haven't figured out how to not state limitations in your description then it won't help. After all, It doesn't matter if "it's part of the invention to include a" or "it doesn't make sense not to include a" or whatever else wording you use. The real deal is to avoid saying something like that. In Europe this trap exists when describing embodiments and not explicitly stating that something is optional.
    – user18033
    Mar 2, 2018 at 16:26

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