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Here's a dumb absolute beginner question: so I have in the claim something like

a first lever arm pivotally connected to the widget member at a first joint; a second lever arm pivotally connected to the first lever arm at a second joint;

Is it a problem if the first joint is named just for clarity and the claim never mentions it again, discussing only the role of the second joint? Are you expected to "use everything you introduce"? In software development, if you declare a variable you don't do anything with, you get a warning at quality check...

I'll try to clarify... I could write that part of the claim like

a first lever arm pivotally connected to the widget member;
a second lever arm pivotally connected to the first lever arm at a first joint;

because the only joint I need to refer to later is the one connecting the first and second lever arms, but since that one is in reality the second joint in the chain of connected elements being defined, would that be confusing or better? (Since the first lever and the widget member are pivotally connected, there is a joint.)

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If the question is really about naming, i.e. whether or not to say the first arm connects to the widget via a joint or the first arm is connected to the widget via a first joint, then it doesn't matter unless you need to refer back to that specific joint or to make it clear that a second joint is distinct from the first joint. If you do name it there is no requirement to refer back to it.

But generally no, a feature might be simply introduced or enumerated. A common simplification of a generic claim is "A widget having an A, a B and a C." A more realistic claim will need to define how A and B and C relate to each other in order to achieve novelty and non-obviousness, because an A, B, and C sitting on a table is not likely to be something new.

On the other hand if an element does not have an important relationship to other features it might not belong in the claim. Anything not really needed that is positively claimed is something a competitor can leave out and get around the claim. If it takes "with an A on top of the B" to achieve novelty or non-obviousness then you need it.

Regarding "clarity", claims define they don't explain, that is for the specification. As advanced topic is something called inferential claiming where a feature is named in the claim but not positively claimed as a required element.

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  • The first lever arm is always connected to the widget member with a joint, the question is only whether to explicitly name that joint or not. Apr 3 at 3:55
  • edited answer to address this clarification of the question
    – George White
    Apr 3 at 17:19
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You're asking if it is ok to introduce an element you never mention again. It is, but might be a bad idea as it narrows the protection without benefits in most cases and can indicate problems with your claim logic.

However, that's not the answer to your specific question. You missed that you are actually mentioning the first joint after introducing it. More precisely, your claim can be rephrased as

... the device having a first joint, the joint forming a connection between the first lever and the widget member ...

Actually, you are not defining and then not using the first joint, you are just using the first joint without having defined it previously. Which is ok, it can make claims shorter to define things on the fly.

In programming, you might get a warning for dynamically defining a variable at the same time you use it. Afaik some programming languages don't allow this while others do. A programming example would be something like

For x in [1:5] do sth().

X isn't defined and then not used, x is used without being defined.

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