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When viewing technology patents, I notice that they list a number of claims, and the structure of these claims takes various forms. Relating to this, my questions are as follows:

  1. Does the scope of the patent pertain to what is described in each individual claim, or does the patent only apply to the technology described when considering all of the claims in combination?
  2. When a claim outlines steps, does that mean that the technology in each of those individual steps is patented, or does it mean that the technology outlined/described by each of the steps in totality is patented?
  3. When a patent claim outlines/describes a system consisting of multiple parts, are each of those individual parts under the scope of the patent, or is it only the entire system considered in totality that is considered to be under the scope of the patent?

I would greatly appreciate it if people would please take the time to clarify these points.

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This is very basic patent information that is duplicated in many previous answers.

  1. Each claim stands alone as something that defines a device, system or method that would constitute infringement. A product might infringe one or more claims of a patent. Infringing one claim is infringing the patent.

  2. To infringe a claim a product must contain all of the elements of that claim. In a method claim that would mean performing all of the steps. In a system claim it would require possess all elements with those elements related to each other as defined in the claim.

  3. A claim can be written to encompass a whole system; other claims can be written to sub-components of that system. However to be granted, each claim must define something patentable - that is, something useful, novel and non-obvious.

"Technology" patents are mentioned in the question. That is not a specific category in U.S. patent law. We have three kinds of patents - Utility (a normal patent with one or more claims to something with utility) Design (With a single claim to the ornamental characteristics of a product) and Plant (covers new plants created from non-reproductive cells of the plant).

Re: "technology patent" - the answer is the same for all utility patents whether or not you would view them as involving technology. By the way, in much of the world a patent must be a technological solution to a technological problem. That is not true in the U.S. - we can patent a novel device for amusement that spins around, or a physically novel game piece/board, for example

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  • By "technology patent", I meant the subset of utility patents that involve technology specifically. – The Pointer Apr 7 at 3:37
  • My point was that the answer is the same for all utility patents whether or not you would view them as involving technology. By the way, in much of the world a patent must be a technological solution to a technological problem. That is not true in the U.S. - we can patent a novel device for amusement that spins around, for example – George White Apr 7 at 20:00
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    This basic question gets asked a lot on this site. This is one of the best answers. – Eric S Apr 11 at 17:22

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