AFAIK, method claim is weak against manufacturer because only end user may use it.

OTOH, invention using all old hardware but only new way to use it, e.g merging different inputs from different sources and then using boolean logic on the inputs. What is the best way to protect against manufacturer?

Also I must consider the fact that unauthorized software could have the same function for free but can not go after them (very hard to catch them, user can download it from anywhere..)

Example, smartphone with dedicated face recognition, can't claim smartphone with camera (already exist), a method claim could be done but very weak in practice.


2 Answers 2


You can write an apparatus claim to cover a combination of hardware and software. For example:

Claim 1. An apparatus comprising: 
    a processor; 
    a camera; and 
    a memory comprising instructions that, when executed by the processor, 
perform steps comprising: 
        [dedicated face recognition step 1]; and
        [dedicated face recognition step 2].

This covers a manufacturer that sells phones with your software invention already inside them. This gets more complicated if your method involves interacting with a server.

The other option is a computer readable medium claim, which is an apparatus that only claims the above memory element from claim 1. This allows you to extend infringement to anyone who stores a program on a disk that implements your method, such as an App Store, websites like Download.com, github.com, etc.


This is a complex area. If the end user necessarily infringes the method claims of a patent by using the app or hardware as-is from the publisher, then a direct infringement has occurred if there is even one end user you can point to. As long as somebody has directly infringed, other entities can be guilty of contributory infringement and/or inducement of infringement which are indirect infringements. So you establish that end users directly infringed so that you can go after the manufacture/publisher for indirect infringement

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