Patent Law Essentials: A Concise Guide

By Alan L. Durham | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 3
Reading a Patent

Anyone interested in patent law should take the time to study an actual patent. Copies of three United States utility patents can be found in Appendix A of this book. The examples have been chosen for the sake of simplicity and brevity, and to show that inventors are still searching for a “better mousetrap.”

The first patent claims a device for trapping a mouse with the help of a ping-pong ball. The mouse enters a tube, the tube tips forward as the mouse heads for the “smelly bait,” and a ping-pong ball rolls down to block the mouse's escape. In the second patent, bait is used to lure the mouse onto a bridge. Although the bridge appears to be secure, the weight of the mouse causes the bridge to spin sideways, sending the mouse plunging headlong into a bucket. The trap claimed in the third patent is made from a soda can.

Although none of these inventions is complex, each patent includes the basic components found in patents awarded to the most sophisticated advancements. The first patent will be used as an example for most of the following discussion, but the reader should examine all three, in order to get a feel for the way patents are organized.


3.1 GENERAL INFORMATION

Patents are officially known by their serial numbers, printed at the top right-hand corner of the patent. For the sake of convenience, patents are often referred to by the last name of the first listed inventor or by the last three digits of the patent's serial number. The first patent in

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Patent Law Essentials: A Concise Guide
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Contents iii
  • Preface vii
  • Chapter 1 - Overview 1
  • Chapter 2 - Patents Distinguished from Other Rights 9
  • Chapter 3 - Reading a Patent 15
  • Chapter 4 - Patentable Subject Matter 23
  • Chapter 5 - Patent Prosecution 31
  • Chapter 6 - Ownership and Other Rights 43
  • Chapter 7 - Interpreting Patent Claims 51
  • Chapter 8 - Conditions of Patentability 67
  • Chapter 9 - Enforceability Defenses 127
  • Chapter 10 - Infringement 135
  • Chapter 11 - Patent Litigation 171
  • Chapter 12 - Special Topics 195
  • Note on Sources 211
  • Appendix A - Sample Utility Patents 213
  • Appendix B - Sample Design Patents 231
  • Index 249
  • About the Author 255
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