A Glossary Of The Patent Landscape Jargon

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The world of intellectual property is studded with complex legal terminology that’s difficult to grasp for the common man. If you are in a situation where this understanding will be useful, then glance through this crisp compilation of commonly used words for a quick introduction to IP.  

Table of Contents


Abandonment Application (Trademarks): It refers to an inactive application due to which a trademark cannot evolve into a registration unless it is reinstated.  

Abandonment (Patents): An abandonment can be used for a patent or a patent application. An abandoned patent application is one that is removed from the pending applications docket. This may occur if the application is incomplete and the applicant fails to reply within the time period prescribed by the patent office.  

A patent is considered abandoned when the owner fails to pay the maintenance fee. At times owners may deliberately abandon a patent as part of the patent portfolio pruning process.   

Abstract of The Disclosure: It is a concise abstract of the technical disclosure. It gives a brief preview of the core subject matter covered by the disclosure. Consisting of a maximum of fifty words, this document succeeds Claims in a patent application. 

Agent: A patent agent is a professional (not an attorney) authorized by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to act on the applicant’s behalf.  


Claim: A claim describes in detail the novelty of the invention for which the patent is sought. It defines the scope of protection rendered to an invention.  

Control Number: It is a distinct number to identify patent reexamination requests. It consists of a 2-digit number (90 for ex parte reexamination requests; 95 for inter partes reexamination requests; 96 for supplemental examination requests), and a 6-digit serial number. 


Declaration: A declaration/oath is mandatory to be submitted along with a patent application. It is the promise of the inventor that all information submitted in the patent application is true and that they are aware of the legal penalties associated with false submissions.  

Dependent Claim: A claim that contains all the features and information of a previous claim and therefore limits its scope.  


Effective Filing Date: Under normal circumstances, the date of the filing of the patent application with the USPTO automatically becomes the date of filing. The exception to the rule is any publication by the inventor less than a year before filing for a patent.  

Ex Parte Reexamination: An examination into the claims of an existing patent, based on a request filed by a person. Such an examination occurs if the person is able to furnish proof of prior-art against any one claim of the existing patent. This was introduced by the 2011 America Invents Act. 

Exhaustion of Rights: Also known as a first-sale doctrine, it is one of the limitations put on the IP rights of an owner. It means that once the patent owner sells the invention to someone, they cannot stop the person from benefitting by reselling it in any manner. 


First Inventor to File: In case of a conflict regarding the same invention, the first inventor to file is eligible to receive the patent. The effective filing date rather than the filing date is taken into consideration in such cases. 

FRAND: Fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory licensing is a condition imposed on Standard Essential Patent (SEP) holders to prevent monopolistic tendencies and ensure fair licensing terms for the licensee.  


Grant Date: The date of issue of the patent by the USPTO. Tuesday is the default day of the patent issue.  


Infringement: The violation of a patent owner’s rights by another party. The patent owner can resort to litigation in case of infringement. Piracy and counterfeiting are examples of infringement.  

Intent to Use Basis: If you have not begun using your trademark in commerce but intend to do so, then intent to use can be used as a legal basis to file a trademark application. Trademarks cannot be registered till you prove that you have started using them in commerce.  


Maintenance Fee: The periodic fee associated with keeping the patent alive for its term of twenty years. It is paid at 3.5 years, 7.5 years, and 11.5 years from the date of issue of a US patent. 

Markush Group: A Markush Group is a list of alternatively usable members and is most often used in claims involving chemical practice. 

Method Claim: A claim enlisting a series of steps that detail the way of doing something.  


Novelty: One of the eligibility criteria to apply for a patent, novelty is defined in section 102 of the US Patent Law. To be considered novel, the invention must be new and original and not described in any publication or exist in public knowledge.  

Non-Provisional Patent Application: An informal patent for temporary protection for an idea or invention before acquiring a proper patent. 

Notice of Allowance: It is issued by the USPTO once an examiner approves a patent application. It includes the total fee applicable for applying for the patent, along with the publication fee if applicable.  


Opposition Proceeding: The proceedings initiated by a person who is against the registration of someone else’s trademark on the basis that it will cause them damage. They are handled by the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board. 

Obvious To Try: Anyone can challenge the validity of a patent if they can demonstrate that the invention would have been obvious to try based on prior art.  


Patent Pending: It is a status granted to pending as well as non-provisional patent applications to inform the public that a patent issue may cover the item at a later stage. This is done to deter infringement.  

Pre-judgment Interest: In patent litigation cases, pre-judgment interest is the monetary value awarded to the winning party from the date of infringement to the date of judgment, by the losing party.  

Presumption of Validity: As per this rule, a patent is always solid and legitimate in the eyes of the law. The burden of proof to establish otherwise rests with the challenging party.  

Prior-Art: Any evidence that establishes that an invention was already in public knowledge constitutes prior art.  


Record Copy: It is the original copy of an international application filed under the Patent Cooperation Treaty. 

Requirement for Restriction: If the patent examiner feels that the claims mentioned in an application are directed at more than one independent invention, they can issue the requirement for restriction. The inventor must then respond by electing a single invention for the purpose of a patent grant.  


Transitional Phrase: The words or sentences that create a link between one concept and another. It is used in patent documents to imply the transition from the preamble of the claim to the body. They are also used to designate the scope of the claim as open or close-ended.  


X Patents: All the patents issued by the USPTO between 1790 and 1836 are referred to as X Patents. The records for all these patents were lost in a fire in December 1936. The inventor’s copies were used to rebuild the collection.  

Important Acronyms 

Below are a few acronyms you will frequently encounter in the patent world: 

  1. USPTO: United States Patent and Trademark Office 
  2. PCT: Patent Cooperation Treaty 
  3. WIPO: World Intellectual Property Organization 
  4. IP: Intellectual Property 
  5. EPO: European Patent Office 
  6. ESPACENET: The EPOs search site for patents 

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