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I am writing a patent description for a patent application. It's a blockchain protocol. When writing it, I found it easier to describe each of the steps the protocol does using an exemplary scenario. To make it clear, let's suppose that in my description (this is only example of course) I wanted to convey this meaning: Nodes connected to the network send each other message A within a specified time T, then compute a hash of the message A and use it to select the block producer. Based on that I could claim something like that: A distributed transaction system in which transactions are organized in blocks, the system comprising: -....... -having the nodes connected to the network send each other message A within time T -having the nodes compute a hash of the message A -having the nodes use a hash of the message A to select block producer -......

However, in my detailed description I use ONLY examples in the form of scenarios. So, the same part of the description that I wrote above in my "version" of description would read: To illustrate how nodes connected to the network will select a new block producer, let's use an example. Let's suppose that there are 3 nodes connected to the network: Alice, Bob and Carol. In order to select block producer Alice, Bob and Carol will send to each other a message consisting of A and each on them compute a hash of that message. Then they will us the hash to select block producer. Let's suppose that Alice's hash is equal to (in decimals) 44564457.... and Bob's 576657...

So, you see, the way I described all the elements of the invention in my patent application is by example, because this is how my mind works I guess. Now, using such a description (with examples using specific number and names of nodes, specific values and parameters that are exemplary) am I not limiting the possible claims that can be based on this way of describing to claims that claim e.g. only a system comprised of 3 nodes (as I used Alice, Bob and Carol as example) or only a system that uses such-and-such parameters, even though I always use words like "let's suppose", "for example", etc.? By using exemplary scenarios can I claim the method the examples illustrate in general (not limiting claims to specific number of nodes, names, values, parameters that I used as example) or only the version as specified in example (limited to only this specific number of nodes, names, values, etc.)? Because the description is very long, I don't want to rewrite it, without confirming that the way I wrote it is not the correct way. As a side note, I worked long and hard on this, I don't have funds for professional assistance, so I ask for specific answer from professional.

  • I am not an attorney so I'll not try to answer specifically. I do have algorithm based patents and I'd like to convey the opinion that it is very difficult to obtain a useful algorithm based patent even with the help of an attorney experienced in the discipline. It is extremely important to understand how to draft the claims. The rest of the application supports the claims. – Eric S Aug 23 at 14:11
  • In addition to the advice of Eric S and George White, when drafting patent application you should bear in mind who will fall within the scope of the claims, if any party at all. In inventions related to software you can end up in a divided infringement scenario: a single party does not carry out all the steps, or they do not necessarily take place in the same country. Blockchain is a very good example of this. The protection of such inventions can become tricky. Some info about this topic here. – the Europeist Aug 24 at 8:52
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The description needs to make the invention clear. Being specific is normal and usually required. Claims are definitely more general. You are on the right track in that regard but patent applications are very difficult to draft in a way that gets you the protection you desire.

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  • E.g. in description I am describing protocol as used by 3 nodes, although it's obviously deducible that it could be used by any number of nodes, using same mechanism as in example. Is describing something e.g. as used by x number of nodes in description allows to claim only a version of this inventive step used by x nodes and not arbitrary number of them? Or, if x in description, then only a claim with x nodes is possible? If in example used in description time between blocks is 2 minutes, then can I write a claim using words e.g. "block production happening at arbitrary intervals"? – Leandro Aug 23 at 20:49
  • While a specific example is good to have clarity and provide enablement you can follow it by describing variations. "the time between blocks in other embodiments could be between 0.1 sec and 10 min". "the number of nodes is not limited to three". However if it is not clear how to get to different timings or larger number of nodes then it is not enough to just say it is possible. Note that a broad claim might just claim a system with "at least three nodes". or " a first node .. a second node .. and a third node". A system with 100 nodes still has a first a second and a third. – George White Aug 23 at 21:57
  • Repeating Eric's warning - you are unlikely to end up with rights that accomplish your ends without professional help drafting and prosecuting this. Patent prosecution is a field that is wide and deep and changing with every court case. Sometime yesterdays black and white is today's white and black. You can ask many questions here and get reasonable answers but it will be piecemeal. – George White Aug 23 at 22:02

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