Types of Claims In Medical Device Patent Applications

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Andrew Rapacke is a registered patent attorney and serves as Managing Partner at The Rapacke Law Group, a full service intellectual property law firm.

In the US, assuming the statutory criteria are met, patents are granted by the US Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) to an inventor for his or her new invention. The patent grants exclusive rights for 20 years for the inventor to manufacture, use, and sell the new inventions. When an inventor applies for a patent, he or she must set out “claims.” In general, claims are split into two claim types and then divided and subdivided from there. In general, the two main types are physical entity claims and an activity type claims. A physical entity claim breaks down further into a product or an apparatus/device claim. An activity breaks down into a process/method or a use claim.

With respect to medical devices, almost every type and subtype of claim are used when drafting patent applications. Indeed, any given patent application will contain many claims, with each claim being a different type. As you consider your new invention and how to apply for your patent, it is important to understand the different types. From that perspective, it is easier to see how the types can combine into separate and distinct claims. Here is information on device claims, system claims, method of use claims and kit claims.

Medical Device Patents: Device Claims

In many respects, device claims are the simplest to write because they focus on the structure of the invention. Essentially, you give your device or implement a name, list the parts and explain how the parts are connected. Thus, if your device is a surgical cutting knife/scalpel, your claim looks something like this:

Claim 1: A scalpel comprising: a handle, curved and rounded at one end and squared at the other; and a sharp, two-inch blade, pointed at one end and squared at the other; wherein the squared end of said blade is connected to the square end of said handle.

Obviously, the more complicated the device, the more complicated the claim and the description. A claim for a surgical implement for use in the sinus cavities would describe in great detail the size and curvature of the device, its length, its flexibility, how the blade might be manipulated or retracted, etc.

Medical Device Patents: Method of Use Claims

For method of use claims, instead of describing a device or an implement, your patent claim is describing a process. Again, the claim itself gives your invention a name, and then lists, step-by-step the process that the device is used in. If the process is new and unique and is not obvious in view of the prior art, then your new process is likely patentable. An example of a method claim might be:

Claim 1: A process for suturing a wound or cut: providing a medical grade thread and a surgical grade needle; providing said thread and threading the same through said needle; starting at one end of the cut or wound, inserting the threaded needle on one side of the cut and exiting the needle on the other side; pulling the thread through; tightening the thread to close the wound to form a stitch; continuing said stitching at intervals of 1/8 inch; continuing to the further end of the cut.

Medical Device Patents: Combination or System Claims

System claims are patent claims that combine various physical elements or parts to form an invention and no method is recited.  System claims recite the medical device invention, in conjunction with the medical system that the medical device invention is typically used in. For instance, a system claim might look like:

Claim 1: A medical infusion system comprising: an infusion pump, an infusion tubing, a needle, and a securement device for securing the needle to the skin of a patient after the needle has been inserted into the patient’s skin.

Medical Device Patents: Kit Claims

Patents that describe a “kit claim” are attempting to patent some combination of parts that the buyer or user assembles prior to use. Importantly, and to distinguish kit claims from method claims, it is the combination of the parts that is unique, not the method of combining them. Kit claims are commonly used in medical device and medical product patent applications. An example of a kit claim could look like:

Claim 1: A kit for use in performing an intubation procedure, the kit comprising a laryngoscope having a curved blade, an air tubing having an inflatable cuff, an inflation syringe, and a bag valve mask.

What Types of Claims Do You Need?

If you need more information about obtaining a patent for your newly invented medical device and about how to craft solid claims, contact the experienced medical device patent attorneys at The Rapacke Law Group. Our professionals have the skills and experience necessary to handle any legal and patentability issues with respect to medical devices, IPR, design patents and mobile application development and all other intellectual property matters. We offer a free initial consultation to prospective clients and we are ready and available to discuss your medical device invention today.

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