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Portraits of Alexander Graham Bell, Gardiner H. Hubbard, Thomas A. Watson and Theodore N. Vail, ca. 1870s. Claims are the part of the patent record that defines the boundaries of patent protection. This is the portion of the patent that outlines the unique features of the invention. Claims consist of a series of numbered statements that clearly state what the inventor feels to be his or her invention’s unique features. Not all of the claims outlined by the inventor may be allowed by the patent office. Claims must be demonstrated to the patent office.

Only the claims that have been outlined by the inventor are protected by the patent. If the invention has another use or function that has not been defined by the patent application, the invention can be legally used by anyone for this purpose. Therefore, it is important to clearly define the function and uses of an invention in the patent application.

Claims that have not been included in the detailed description are rejected by the patent examiner. Also, inventors cannot reapply for additional claims on their patents. This is where the patent agent is especially useful to assist the inventor in clearly defining the functions and uses of an invention.

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