The Importance of Using Commas After “Such As” in Patent Applications

Neil Kardos covers “The Importance of Using Commas after ‘Such As’ in Patent Applications” in this Practical Patents short blog.

As patent applications are legal documents, it is crucial to draft them accurately and without any ambiguity. A common grammatical error that can lead to unintentional narrowing of the scope of a patent application is the improper use of the phrase “such as.” In most cases, the intention of using this phrase is to provide examples of the items listed after it, but failing to use a comma before “such as” can result in the items being considered restrictive clauses and limiting the scope of the application.

For instance, consider the sentence “the network device may transmit packet data, such as a source address or a timestamp.” Here, the intended meaning is that a source address and a timestamp are examples of packet data. However, if there is no comma before “such as,” it becomes a restrictive clause, meaning that only a source address or a timestamp will be considered as packet data, not any other data like a destination address or a packet header.

Using a comma before “such as” can convert the phrase into a non-restrictive clause and make it clear that the items listed after it are only examples and not the only items that can be considered packet data. Therefore, it is essential to include a comma before “such as” to avoid any unintentional narrowing of the scope of a patent application.

In conclusion, patent applications require careful drafting and precise language to avoid any misinterpretation or ambiguity. Proper use of punctuation, especially commas, can help prevent unintentional narrowing of the scope of the application and ensure that the application provides adequate coverage of the invention.

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