The claims in a patent define the “metes and bounds” of the invention because it is the claims themselves that define that which the patentee is granted the right to exclude from others. The claims consist of language on whose interpretation will render the ultimate judgment of whether a claim is valid and whether it is infringed. Unlike the precision and relative universality of numbers and quantities, much of claim language depends on several fields of context; reduced even to its simplest context, a single word can have multiple definitions. In view of the myriad challenges that claim interpretation can present, the courts have developed and continue to refine certain general principles and guidelines to consider when interpreting claim language and hence claim scope. Together we will review some of these principles and guidelines,which will help us understand how to interpret a claim’s meaning and hence scope. Before diving into claim interpretation, let’s first review some basic aspects of claims, such as the types of claims, the structure of claims, universal claimtransitions,and finally, Markush claiming in chemical patents.

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