Does the term exemplary mean 'the ideal example', or just 'an example'?

I think it is the latter, but would like to be certain.

1 Answer 1


In the past it was always understood to mean 'example' and that is what the drafter of the patent application surely meant. But more recently when people started to be wary of "preferred embodiment" possibly being taken by a judge as "only embodiment" they also realized the other meaning of the word exemplary. If preferred embodiment might be a problem then exemplary in the sense of 'the ideal example' might also be a problem. I have stopped using it partly for that reason and partly because it sounds affected.'

  • Thanks George, so is the word 'example' a reasonable replacement for exemplary?
    – DatsunBing
    Commented Jun 30, 2014 at 22:31
  • 1
    example, example embodiment, an alternate version - can all work.
    – George White
    Commented Jul 1, 2014 at 4:14
  • If I have used the word exemplary in a lot of places, will it make sense to put some kind of disclaimer rather than reword so many paragraphs?
    – Chiwda
    Commented Jun 15, 2017 at 2:42
  • You can define words in a patent application, so that should work. And there are zillions of patents out there that have "exemplary" meaning example.
    – George White
    Commented Jun 16, 2017 at 4:17

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