What is a Generic Claim in a Patent Application?

A generic claim is a patent claim that usually includes within its scope the subject matter of narrow claims in the patent application. Generic claims are usually independent claims in the patent application, but it is not a limitation and such claims could well be dependent claims.

One way to think about it is; in an application that provides three species, a generic claim should read on each of these three species. The generic claim may define only an element or sub-combination which may be shared by the several species of the invention in question.

In general, a generic claim has no specific material element requirement apart from those required by the species claims. Thereby, it may be contemplated that each of the species claims shall include all the limitations of the generic claim.

It may be understood that if all generic claims are rejected, then nothing is allowable. However, if a generic claim is allowable, then all of the claims drawn to species in addition to the elected species which require all the limitations of the generic claim will ordinarily be allowable over the prior art.

For writing a generic claim, the claim drafter should consider the inventor’s objective and the way in which the objective is accomplished, consider all of the disclosed embodiments and find a common thread running through all of them which defines a single solution or way of achieving the objective or goal. In some scenarios, the generic claim may be a picture claim describing all the key elements of the invention, however, this may not always be the case.

It is advisable that the claim drafter should write a generic claim, with minimal structural limitations, yet claiming a complete structure, that is directed to the generic invention and generic structure found in all of the embodiments disclosed.

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