If you’re from the US, don’t neglect means-plus-function claims

Did you know that means-plus-function patent claims provide the broadest scope in Europe, because they are interpreted as covering anything that can perform the function?

This is quite useful in software patents where it often does not make sense to limit the inventive functionality to a specific hardware implementation.

The US is a completely different story though: There, means-plus-function claims are limited to the corresponding structures recited in the specification, i.e. they are usually rather narrow.

best practice is therefore to include multiple independent claims in the priority application: one in means-plus-function format and another which recites structure like a processor and memory.

Your US and EP outside counsel can then pick the best version for the corresponding regional application.

Happy innovating,

P.S.: This was just the tip of the iceberg. If you want more, get on my email list. I usually write an update every two weeks or so – it features inside knowledge and practical tips on European software patents. You can subscribe here.

Hi, I'm a European patent attorney with a computer science background and a partner at one of the largest IP firms in Europe. About | Contact