If in my description, I describe functionally materials, will this protect my invention from any known material suitable for this function? E.g. if I describe that my invention has a lubricate, will this protect me for any lubricate, e.g. oils, polymers, gels, or any other? I am not a chemist to list all the possible chemical formulas or names for lubricants.

1 Answer 1


If you do not know what chemicals have the properties you require you may not have an enabled invention to patent.

The good news, taking your example - a lubricant is a noun (a thing, in this case) with relatively clear meaning. If you claim "A machine comprising an A, a B and a lubricant . . . " there is no functional defining going one. Anything fitting the plain meaning of lubricant consistent with the specification could constitute that element. If the range of chemicals you want to include can be covered properly by a generic term like lubricant or adhesive then you would be ok.

You could claim "A machine comprising an A, a B and a means for lubricating . . . " That would be functional claiming and would include any substance listed in the specification as being "for lubricating" and their equivalents. This does not relieve you of the task of listing materials, it is just that they do not appear in the claim wording.

One strategy would be, in the U.S., to have one claim that said "lubricant" and get the plain meaning (in context) and use the functional claiming in another claim. The specification would need to have a comprehensive set of materials that would be "for lubricating" spelled out.

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