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By Ronald Slusky

Claims with Functional Language—Part IV1

Ronald Slusky mentored dozens of attorneys in “old school” invention analysis and claiming principles over a 31-year career at Bell Laboratories. He is now in private practice in New York City. This column is adapted from Ron’s widely praised book, “Invention Analysis and Claiming: A Patent Lawyer’s Guide, (American Bar Association, 2007). Ron presents CLE-accredited one- and two-day seminars based on his book both in public venues and in-house. Details at Ron can be reached at 212-246-4546 and

This is the last of a series of four columns directed to the jurisprudence of functional language at a claim’s point of novelty.

The three previous columns2 focused principally on the case law. We saw that functional language at the point of novelty is ineffective to imbue a claim with patentability when that language is, in effect, nothing more than a boast that a known or obvious problem has been solved. As the U.S. Supreme Court put it in General Electric Co. v. Wabash Co., “[A] chara...

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