When describing a series of actions or steps to be performed: What is the thought process that 'tips the scale' in one direction or the other, when trying decide if it is a process or a method?


There are actually only two claim categories, you either claim a physical entity (product, apparatus) or a physical activity (method, process, use), as outlined in decision G 2/88 of the Enlarged Board of Appeals of the EPO. You can find it here: http://www.epo.org/law-practice/case-law-appeals/eba/number.html

In my field (chemistry) we usually claim a process for preparing a chemical compound. But we also claim a method of preparation of a chemical compound. The scope of the claim is pretty much the same, as you can imagine, but the expression "process" is shorter that "method of preparation" and thus sounds more elegant. You really want to draft claims with as much less words as possible!

And I have not see any examiners either in EPO (Europe) or in the US objecting about a using the word method vs process. I would dare to say that it mainly depends on the technical field in combination with adequate knowledge of the (English here) language.

  • Good comments: If I may distill the essence: anticipate the lexicon of your target audience.
    – gatorback
    Apr 20 '18 at 22:11
  • @gatorback alternative essence: do whatever floats your goat ;)
    – DonQuiKong
    Apr 21 '18 at 11:21
  • 1
    @gatorback yes, exactly. I am not sure what your work exactly is, but if you are at the beginning of your patent drafting education, it's a good idea to read the examination of other patent examinations from your field to see what other people do! Apr 23 '18 at 6:14

I may be missing something, but I am not sure why this would matter? Both process and method claims would fall under the statutory (35 USC 101) category of "process".

The only place it would seem to matter is w.r.t. to "product by process" claims as DonQuiKong points out. In this case, you would not be claiming the method/process, but the physical outcome as defined by the method/process, and thus this sort of claim would probably fall under the statutory category of "composition of matter" or "manufacture".

  • 1
    I had to choose one of the terms and wanted to understand what the different lines of the thought that could enable one to arrive at a decision
    – gatorback
    Apr 21 '18 at 23:16
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    I do not know of any distinction between the terms.
    – George White
    Apr 23 '18 at 22:30

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