Suppose there is a patent whose first claim essentially covers "a system comprising a computing device having code usable by said computing device, said code comprising: code configured to do A; code configured to do B".

Now if I implement a system with two computers such that computer 1 has the code to do A and computer 2 has the code to do B, and the computers are connected via ethernet or similar, do I violate this patent?

Does it help if I can reasonably justify that the two-computer implementation is more natural (because of physical distance between the stuff needed for A and B, and also fault tolerance) and therefore it would have been built like that, even if the patent had not existed?

Wikipedia says:

"An apple" never means more than one apple.

Can I trust that this is true in the patent context?

A related but not identical question: Does plurality mean that it must have more than 1 camera?


2 Answers 2


Usually, "comprising a frob" also covers embodiments with two or more "frobs", because of the word "comprising". The word "comprising" means that the recited "frob" can be combined with anything not specifically recited and still infringe the claim. This includes additional "frobs".

However, as OP points out, the given claim language here seems to require, under a plain interpretation, that a single computing device harbor code for doing both A and B.

The problem is that two (or more) computers connected by an Ethernet cable could, together and as a unit be viewed as "a computing device". This is the part that really depends on the specification and the prosecution history.


It would depend on the exact language of the claim and how that language might be interpreted under the plain meaning of the words and in light of the specification and the prosecution history. I know that means "it depends".

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