I need to use certain terms repeatedly in my dependent claims, but do not need the same terms in my independent claims. I could define the terms in each dependent claim, but that would be prolix. I would like to define the terms once, then use them throughout the dependent claims.

What is the correct form?

  • 1
    Definitions go in the specification. Then the term can be used in as many claims as you like.
    – George White
    Dec 9, 2013 at 16:52
  • OK, but it bothers me a little that the legally precise language in the claims depends on the less formal language in the specifications. Could I introduce a loophole there if I am not careful? Dec 10, 2013 at 3:59
  • @WascallyWabbit yes you could. That's why especially the definitions should be precise in the definition, not “less formal“.
    – user18033
    Mar 31, 2018 at 10:54

2 Answers 2


in Accordance of MPEP 2163 Every claim should have support in description, therefore definition should be drawn in patent description body.

Keep in mind that terminology or body you use to define in claim might be absent in description.

Even in case when examiner raise issue on claim you wont be able to support it if matter was not explained in description.


Specification is for explanation, and claims are for defining the scope of your invention.

Whoever will be reading your claims must get the message what you are protecting and not that how it works or what are its details. Do that job in the specification.

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