Major types of patent claims
Produced in partnership with Bristows LLP
Major types of patent claims

The following IP guidance note Produced in partnership with Bristows LLP provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Major types of patent claims
  • Introduction
  • Claims to products
  • Process claims
  • Particular types of claims

Introduction

Patent claims may be separated into two broad categories: product claims and process claims. Product claims and process claims are recognised as having a different scope of protection in section 60(1) of the Patents Act 1977 (PA 1977). However, patent claims may be further categorised based on the particular arrangement or features of the claim. Such arrangements and features have arisen through a combination of case law, patent office practice and legislative developments. This Practice Note describes some of the main types of patent claims commonly encountered by practitioners.

Claims to products

A product claim is a claim to a thing per se, such as an article, machine, substance or composition. Such claims require the product to have certain technical features, which may be structural or functional in nature, to distinguish it from what has gone before. Structural features are physical characteristics of a product, whereas functional features are actions the product is able to perform. In the US, such functional features are referred to as ‘means-plus-function’ features. Any structure which is able to perform the specified function is potentially within the scope of a functional feature, though in practice the patentee may be limited to performance by structures of a type disclosed in the specification. Whether the product has actually been used to perform the function