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A patent to get things rolling

Posted by Ian Wilson |

A recently granted patent to act as an example and learning experience

I have included the full text of a small number of patents so far and we can use one of those as an example (if you see any others you would like to use I can let you know how to add the body text). The link is here

Usually the first claim a patent makes (and the claims are what a patent "is") is the broadest, meaning the easiest to infringe, the most powerful and the most dangerous. As an example if a claim stated "A device comprising of a plurality of wheels and a frame." this patent would cover almost all types of modern transportation, cars, trains, truck, bicycles etc and make the inventor very rich. If the claim was only slightly changed to be more specific "A device comprising of a plurality of wooden wheels and a frame." Then this would now cover almost no modern transport as crucially an invention MUST include ALL of the items in the claim to infringe. So any device MUST have wooden wheels to infringe this patent. So in patent terms:

  • Fewer items are better, giving a broader patent.
  • Many items make the patent weaker as another invention MUST use ALL of the items mentioned in order to infringe.
  • More abstract terminology is better. Stating a "plurality" (any number) rather than "4" broadens a claim.
  • Specific wording makes a patent weaker. Stating a "1 meter diameter wheel" means that a 99cm diameter wheel would not infringe the patent.

So as a concrete example here is the first claim of WIPO (World) Patent Application WO/2007/098560:

1. A method of recognizing emotions in an input data stream, the method including the steps of: (i) receiving the input data stream; (ii) extracting an emotional state in the form of an emotional state vector from the input data stream; and (iii) updating a current control point utilizing the emotional state vector extracted from the input data stream, the current control point being a point in a multidimensional affective space representing a current emotional state.

Lets break this down:

"A method of recognizing emotions in an input data stream," Very broad language but this is not the content of the claim, just context as to where it would be applied. For the content see the items described after, "the method including the steps of:"
  • (i) receiving the input data stream; - means essentially ANY form of system input
  • (ii) extracting an emotional state in the form of an emotional state vector from the input data stream; and - very broad except for the use of the word "vector"
  • (iii) updating a current control point utilizing the emotional state vector extracted from the input data stream, the current control point being a point in a multidimensional affective space representing a current emotional state.
So the first 2 steps are very broad and very common but the last step becomes more specific. It is, however, still a very very common method. This basically describes a dimensional emotion model in a system that receives data. This is very broad, too broad in my opinion. So our task would be to identify, if any "prior art" exists (previously published work explaining the same process as this claim that pre date the patents filing/application date of 03.02.2007).

Lets get to it.

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