When drafting a patent, are there any negative aspects about using the same terms as prior art patents to refer to things? What about diagrams? computer system related patents often add a system diagram where they enumerate all the parts of the computer system: processor, memory, display, etc. Is there any negative aspect if I draw more or less the same system diagram than a relevant prior art patent?

1 Answer 1


It goes without saying (so I'll say it anyway!), primarily, it depends whether it's the best way of describing your invention.

If the terms are appropriate (in meaning, and particular in breadth, so they support what you will want to claim), then there's no harm in using the same terms; I'm assuming of course that your differences are sufficient persuade the Examiner that your invention is inventive.

Of course, it makes the Examiner's job easier, he can see at a glance which bits are present in some prior art. If you use different terms, the Examiner will have to construe both meanings and decide whether they refer to the same thing, overlap, or how similar they are etc. If your invention's a bit thin, you might not want to make it so easy. Some people will try and dress up an (alleged) invention with complicated terms to muddy the waters. An English judge said "Patents are not given for skill in inventing technically meaningless parameters.” In practice, such subterfuge does sometimes work.

If you've got a solid invention though, I'd say just write the best, clearest, description you can.


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