What is the function of the patent Claims?

The patent Claims are the heart of the patent application, because the Claims define the scope of the inventor’s patent protection. While the Claims must be based upon what is disclosed in the Specification, they typically will be much broader in scope than the preferred embodiment(s) that are described in detail in the Specification. The object in writing the Claims is to lay claim to as many of the potentially viable versions of the invention as possible without overextending into areas already staked out by the prior art. The Claims are structured such that there are a few “independent claims”, which, as the name implies, stand on their own. Each independent claim will usually have associated with it a number of “dependent claims”, which represent refinements of the invention set forth in the independent claim. The Claims may relate to an apparatus, a chemical composition, a genetic sequence, a computer code, a process, or a method. While each patent application must relate to only one invention, the invention may be alternately claimed in different categories. For example, if an apparatus is claimed, the process performed by the apparatus and/or the method by which it is used can also be claimed.

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