This is another installment in a series about Claim Charts. Part 1, The Claim Chart: Origins of a Patent Litigation Tool, provides a brief history of the Claim Chart. Part 2, Do the Patent Local Rules Bind You discusses the importance of knowing your local rules. Today present some tips to make patent claim charts more effective. We'll follow up with some other ideas to enhance Claim Charts in subtle, but effective ways.
1. Keep it Simple
The purpose of a Claim Chart is to present claim analysis in an easy to read format. The Claim Chart should be a high level, particularized analysis of the patent claims at issue. It is meant to be a summary of positions that might be referenced in other documents. The Claim Chart introduces the reader to positions with a clarity of purpose. Think of the Claim Chart as a way to better under the subject matter in the context of claim limitations. As will be discussed in more detail below, the level of simplicity is sometimes affected by the Patent Local Rules or other considerations. Be sure to keep these rules in mind as they dictate the information that must be included in your Claim Charts.
2. Avoid Verbose Detailed Analysis
Going hand in hand with the above is avoiding non-relevant details in the Claim Chart. The Claim Chart should not be used to present each discrete theory of infringement/invalidity. Adding too much detailed analysis can clutter the Claim Chart and confuse the reader. The typical table format is not well-suited to present walls of text. Use the Claim Chart as a reference point for the reader to anchor a related contentions document.
3. Avoid Excessive Visuals
Excessive visuals serve only to clutter a Claim Chart while consuming valuable space in a document. As above, the Claim Chart is a reference to the reader. A Claim Chart should present as much information as is necessary to present the contention, with graphical teachings that support the contention. When graphics are necessary, consider whether the graphics are better suited for t the body of the related document where they can be presented with an associated argument.
4. Group Common Claim Language
For ease of understanding and space saving, group common claim language together. Most patents having multiple independent claims tend to repeat common elements using similar language or with additional limitations. Rather than repeating the same points, for the same material, group repetitive elements near each other. This saves space by removing additional rows from the table format. Grouping common language may also make the chart easier to understand. Keeping similar material together helps reader comprehension without jumping around to find information. The delivery of specific information is one of the goals of using Claim Charts in the first place.
5. Tailor the Claim Chart to its Purpose
Claim Charts are not limited to litigation. They are a versatile tool for a variety of situations. They can be used when sending demand letters. They can be used to simply explain a patent to a third party. Depending on the situation, a more/less detailed chart may be more suitable. In litigation, depending on the context, a simpler chart may be better suited to support more detailed arguments. Patent Local Rules detail items that must be included in Claim Charts, and must always be taken into consideration. In a demand letter, a more detailed chart may be desired as Claim Charts can be more of a centerpiece. For validity challenges, and depending upon the opportunities to supplement, more speculative disclosures may be required to avoid downstream preclusion. Each situation varies.
Join us again for Part 4 in our series where we will discuss Claim Chart practice points that should be avoided.