Welcome back to patent law. This is part three. What does a patent cover? So, in this part what we're going to talk about is that once you have a patent, once you have a patent in your hand, for example, maybe you're looking at competitor's patent. Maybe you've obtained a patent from the patent office. Something like that, you have a patent. What does it actually cover? What does it mean? This is really all about patent claims. So, we're going to start by going through this in this part talking about patent claims. An overview, what they are, how they work, sort of the idea and the theory behind them. Then, we're going to go through in some level of detail, the different components of them in particular with an eye towards understanding how you can use patent claims to understand what a patent actually covers, so that when you encounter a patent, again, whether it's a competitor patent, a patent you're doing research on, maybe your own patent, you can understand a lot better what it actually means, what it's going to actually do for you or not do for you in the marketplace. So, let's dive right in, an overview of patent claims. So, patent claims are part of the patent document. You'll remember from part one of this course, we talked in some detail about the patent document. The patent document is a very formal regulated document that has specific components. Patent claims are a particular component of the patent document. If you sort of look at this, this is the title, the serial number, inventor and assignee. The claims come right at the end of the patent, right at the very end of the patents specification. Again, the patents specification is the written textual component of a patent document. The specification is the part that provides all of the background information, how the invention at hand relates to, what came before it, what the advantages are, what are the limitations, what the inventor thinks is the best way of doing it. All of these things are in the specification and then at the very very end of the patent document, of the entire document and indeed, by regulation, nothing can appear after the patent claims, are the claims. The claims are written in a particular format and we're going to talk about that a little bit more in this part but the most important thing for now is to understand that if you want to know what a patent covers, you need to go to the end of the patent document to the patent claims. They always start with the phrase, what is claimed is, with a colon or maybe "I claim the following" something like that. They always designate themselves that way. Sometimes they'll be in a section separately headed but not always, but they will signify themselves as being patent claims by saying what is claimed. They are all numbered. Patent documents can have many claims. They can have one claim, they can have a 1000 claims. That doesn't matter. Each claim is evaluated independently on its own merits and interpreted on its own. So, for purposes here, all you really need to know is that each claim has a number. These numbers relate to just their ordering in the patent document and each claim stands on its own. So, patent claims define the scope of the patented invention. So, you take these claims once you've found them and with the way to think about this is almost like an invention, is sort of this box of subject matter. Inside the box of subject matters is what the patented invention covers, and outside is what it doesn't cover. The patent claims are that dotted line, that separation, that boundary between what is inside the patent document, inside the coverage of the patent and outside it. That is how the scope, what we call the scope of the patented invention, is defined entirely by the patent claims. So, the scope of the claim determines exactly what's covered. So, if it's inside the box, inside the scope of the patent claims, it's covered, and if it's outside it, it's not covered. So, for example, if you were thinking about whether you are going to be able to avoid a competitor's patent which you'd want to know, is to determine the outcome that determine the outline of that box. Determine whether does the potential product or service that your company is going to provide is either inside that box, in which case you probably have a problem because you might be infringing the patent, or outside the box in which case you're not infringing the patent. That's how you determine whether or not you have the freedom to operate in the marketplace without infringing a patent. So, interpreting the patent claim, understanding where that dotted line boundary is, is incredibly important and fundamental to understanding the way that patents work. Indeed, it's the same thing when you evaluate whether a patent is valid or not. You remember from part two of this course, we talked about the many ways that a patent need, many hurdles a patent needs to cover in order to be a valid patent. All of that is determined by how broad the patent's scope is, how much subject matter is encompassed within the boundaries of the patent claim determines what kind of patent you're going to have. Outside that can be prior art but inside it, of course, you can't have prior art. You can't use in your own patent, something that already exists in the prior art. So, really the fundamental thing and the take-away from this part of this lecture is really what Judge Rich said in 1990 which is, "To coin a phrase, the name of the game is the claims." If somebody asks you if you want to know if people are talking about what a patent actually covers, what it means is, what are the claims? What do the claims cover? It's all about the claims. The name of the game is the claims.