The most important element of a patent is the claims, which define exactly what is being patented. The claims determine what the patent protects. The application requires a written explanation and drawings, but the exact terminology used to write the claims is what matters the most.
Your patent must explain in clear and precise technical terms exactly what you invented. This determines whether your invention is new and if somebody else has violated your rights, just like a real estate boundary dispute. If nobody knows where the boundary is, how can anybody determine what is and what is not protected?
A standard application consists of under 20 total claims. Only three can be Independent form. A Dependent refers to an Independent.
The following 12 examples are from actual patents that the USPTO has granted.
Blender Jar (Hamilton Beach Brands, Inc)
US 7,350,963 (April 1, 2008)
1. A blender jar for promoting three dimensional material flow, the jar comprising: a floor and a sidewall connected to the floor and extending vertically upwardly from the floor to form a space inside the sidewall and above the floor where material is blended; the floor comprises a central opening through which extends a drive shaft; a cutter assembly attached to the drive shaft, the cutter assembly comprising a blade that rotates on the shaft inside the blender jar and above the floor, the rotation of the blade defining a blade path; wherein the floor comprises an agitator that is closer to the blade path than the remainder of the floor; and wherein the agitator is curved in a vertical direction relative to the horizontal plane of the blade path.
2. A blender jar as described in claim 1, wherein the floor comprises a plurality of agitators.
Vacuum Cleaner Bag Docking Assembly (Oreck Holdings)
US 7,258,709 (August 21, 2007)
1. A method for installing a vacuum bag, comprising: inserting a collar of the vacuum bag into a mounting member; rotating the mounting member from a loading position towards a closed position; allowing the mounting member to reach a fully closed position when the collar of the vacuum bag is in a correct orientation by passing at least one protrusion through a corresponding void in the collar where the at least one protrusion is in addition to a dirty air nozzle.
2. The method for installing a vacuum bag of claim 1, further comprising: latching the mounting member into the fully closed position.
Toaster (Whirlpool Corporation)
US 7,351,939 (April 1, 2008)
1. A toaster comprising: a housing; a heating chamber positioned in said housing and having a bread product receiving section; a first movable heating element assembly on a first side of said bread product receiving section and a second movable heating element assembly on a second side of said bread product receiving section; a carriage assembly in operable connection with said first and second movable heating element assemblies, said carriage being movable between a raised position and a lowered position, the carriage assembly further comprising: a lever arm pivotally attached near a rear portion of said heating chamber; a carriage plate operably attached to said lever arm adjacent a front wall of said heating chamber; and a carriage lever operably attached to said lever arm for said movement of said carriage assembly means for moving said first heating element assembly and said second heating element assembly in connection with a movement of said carriage assembly, each said means for moving said heating element assembly comprising a first linkage leader on a first end of said heating element assembly and a second linkage leader on a second end of said heating element assembly, said first and second linkage leaders being supported for combined movement by a linkage trailer, said carriage assembly being in operable engagement with at least one of said linkage leader and said linkage trailer for movement of at least one of said first and second heating element assemblies; and a control interface system for controlling a function of said toaster.
Can Opener (Hamilton Beach / Proctor-Silex, Inc.)
US 6,279,236 (August 28, 2001)
1. A can opener comprising: a motor housing; a can drive wheel rotatable with respect to said motor housing about an axis extending through said motor housing; an electric drive motor mounted in said motor housing and connected to said can drive wheel; a drive motor-control switch; a can-opening blade pivotally mounted on said motor housing for pivotal movement about an axis parallel to the axis of rotation of said drive wheel from a first position in which said blade is remote from a can having a rim supported by the drive wheel to a second position in which said blade pierces the lid of a can supported by said drive wheel; a blade spring biasing said blade into said first position; an operating member movable along a linear path between a first position and a second position, said operating member having a switch operating arm engageable with said drive motor control switch to energize the drive motor as said operating member is moved from its said first position to its said second position; a motion transmitting assembly connecting said operating member to said blade that causes said blade to move into engagement with the lid of a can supported by said drive wheel as said operating member moves from its said first position toward its said second position to energize said drive motor so that said blade is engaged with the lid of said can supported by said drive wheel and caused to Pierce said can lid due to the rotation of said can by said drive wheel; a manually operable control button connected to said operating member for substantially linear movement therewith which a user may depress to initiate operation of said drive motor; said blade spring reversely pivoting said blade when the cutting of said can is completed and driving said operating member toward its first position to thereby open said drive motor control switch; said blade and said drive wheel confining the rim of a can there between when the can opener is in operation; and means for interrupting return movement of said blade after a lid has been cut away from a can for the purpose of continuing to confine the can rim until the user of the can opener decides to remove the can.
2. The can opener of claim 1 wherein said means for interrupting return movement of said blade comprises a ledge on said operating member and a stop member which is fixed relative to said motor housing.
Flashlight (The Stanley Works)
US 7,342,360 (March 11, 2008)
1. A flashlight comprising: a light source comprising a plurality of lights; a plurality of battery sources; a plurality of diodes, each of said plurality of diodes being disposed in series with a corresponding one of the plurality of battery sources to discourage electricity from flowing from one of the battery sources to another of the battery sources; and a switch, wherein an actuation of the switch couples at least one of the plurality of lights in parallel with the plurality of battery sources, and a subsequent activation of the switch couples at least an additional one of the plurality of lights in parallel with the plurality of battery sources.
2. The flashlight of claim 1, wherein any complete electrical path between any two of the plurality of battery sources comprises two oppositely biased diodes in series with each other arranged to discourage current flow between said any two of the plurality of battery sources.
Utility Knife (Stanley Tools)
US 4,663,845 (May 12, 1987)
1. A blade holder for a detachable blade of the type having first and second opposing planar side surfaces, forward and rearward end portions and a cutting edge comprising: an elongated case having a forward end and a rearward handle end, said case forming a blade opening at said forward end and interior guide means for guiding a blade carrier, said blade opening comprising a slot defined by opposed side walls formed in said case and a blade carrier adapted for mounting a blade and being slidably mounted to said guide means for selective longitudinal movement therealong between a retracted sheathed position and an extended unsheathed position wherein the forward portion of a blade mounted to said carrier extends through said blade opening to present a cutting edge, said blade carrier having a planar side portion, means extending laterally from said planar side portion for supporting a blade so that one side surface of the blade faces against the planar side portion of the blade carrier, and retaining tab means for laterally retaining the rearward portion of the blade toward said planar side portion of said carrier, said case having retainer means at said blade opening comprising an arcuate convex protrusion integrally formed on one of said side walls and projecting toward the other side wall for laterally retaining the forward end portion of a blade toward said planar side portion of said carrier when said carrier is in an extended unsheathed position, said retainer means of said case coacting with said retainer tab means of said carrier when the blade carrier is in an unsheathed position to laterally retain the blade toward the planar side portion of the blade carrier to stabilize the blade during usage.
2. The device of claim 1 wherein said slot has a longitudinal axis transverse to the path of travel of said carrier and said arcuate protrusion extends along said one side wall in the direction of said longitudinal axis.
Table Saw (Home Depot U.S.A. Inc.)
US 6,986,370 (January 17, 2006)
1. A table saw comprising: a base; a first table mounted to the base, wherein the first table has a work support surface defining a plane; a saw blade operably supported by the base and extendable through the work support surface; a second table; first and second rails having first and second ends, wherein the rails are slidably mounted to the first table and the second ends are rigidly mounted to the second table such that the second table is slidably movable relative to the first table; a locking mechanism connected to at least one of the first or second table, the locking mechanism including a locked position in which the second table is locked relative to the first table, and an unlocked position in which the second table is movable relative to the first table; and the locking mechanism including a lever that extends from the plane of the work support surface to a work support side of the plane when in the unlocked position to obstruct the use of the table saw.
2. The table saw according to claim 1, wherein the locking mechanism secures the second table in any position relative to the first table within a set of predetermined limits of travel.
Method of Conducting a Racing Series (NASCAR Inc.)
US 7,207,568 (April 24, 2007)
1. A method of conducting a racing series with a plurality of competitors, the method comprising the steps of: conducting a plurality of races for the plurality of competitors, the plurality of races comprising a first plurality of races and a second plurality of races, the first plurality of races occurring before and being greater in number than the second plurality of races, awarding points to each of the competitors based on results of each of the first plurality of races, the points accumulating during the racing series for each competitor; adjusting the accumulated points after the last race in the first plurality of races to a predetermined number of championship points for each competitor, the accumulated points being adjusted for only a predetermined number of competitors; awarding points to each of the competitors based on the results of each of the second plurality of races, the points awarded during the second plurality of races being added to the predetermined number of championship points for each of the plurality of competitors for a championship point total; and awarding prizes to each of the plurality of competitors based on the championship point totals for each competitor.
2. The method of conducting a racing series according to claim 1, wherein the predetermined number of championship points for each competitor is based upon a total number of points earned by the competitor during the first plurality of races.
Golf Club Head or other Ball Striking Device with Modifiable Feel Characteristics (Nike Inc.)
US 7,354,355 (April 8, 2008)
1. A putter head, comprising: a ball striking head including a ball striking surface that faces a ball in use, wherein the ball striking head includes a first opening and a second opening defined therein, wherein the first opening is separate from the second opening, the first opening and the second opening each extending from the ball striking surface toward a rear surface of the ball striking head; a first wall member located in the first opening, wherein the first wall member includes a first end that engages a backside of the ball striking surface and a second end opposite the first end; a second wall member located in the second opening, wherein the second wall member includes a first end that engages the backside of the ball striking surface and a second end opposite the first end; a first means for applying a force to the first wall member, wherein the first means for applying the force engages the second end of the first wall member; and a second means for applying a force to the second wall member, wherein the second means for applying the force engages the second end of the second wall member, and wherein the forces applied to the first wall member and the second wall member may be selectively varied to alter a sound emanating from the ball striking head when a golf ball contacts the ball striking surface.
2. A putter head according to claim 1, wherein the first wall member at least partially defines a first chamber extending in a direction away from the ball striking surface.
System and Method for Automatic Layout of Images in Digital Albums (Eastman Kodak Company)
US 7,340,676 (March 4, 2008)
1. A digital image album layout system comprising: a page creator module operable to receive a set of images, a plurality of different user album preferences, and a plurality of album preference importance values, each said album preference importance value indicating a weighting of a corresponding one of said user album preferences relative to the other said user album preferences, and to generate album preference criteria using said user album preferences and album preference importance values, said page creator module having a first genetic engine operable to execute genetic evolution calculations on a first genetic population of album criteria, said page creator module having a page evaluation module operable to test said first genetic population for fitness to said album preference criteria, said page creator module being operable to distribute said images to a plurality of album pages responsive to said testing for fitness to said album preference criteria; an image placement module operable to receive the set of images, a plurality of different user page preferences, and a plurality of page preference importance values, each said page preference importance value indicating a weighting of a corresponding one of said user page preferences relative to the other said user page preferences, and to generate page preference criteria using said user page preferences and page preference importance values, said image placement module having a second genetic engine operable to execute genetic evolution calculations on a second genetic population of page layout criteria, said image placement module having a layout evaluation module operable to test said second genetic population for fitness to said page preference criteria, said image placement module being operable to distribute said images on respective said album pages responsive to said testing for fitness to said page preference criteria; wherein said page creator module and said image placement module operate separately.
2. The system of claim 1, wherein the genetic evolution calculations performed by at least one of the first and second genetic engines include the application of a genetic mutation function.
Shelf Sign Holder (Target Brands, Inc.)
US 7,340,855 (March 11, 2008)
1. A combination comprising: a printed media holder for use with a display structure that displays products, the printed media holder comprising: means for coupling the printed media holder with the display structure, means for maintaining an entirety of a printed medium relating to the displayed products, and means for connecting the means for coupling and the means for maintaining, wherein the means for coupling extends from the means for connecting in an opposite direction as the means for maintaining extends from the means for connecting, the means for connecting being one of transparent and substantially translucent; and a media support bracket configured to hang from a shelf; wherein the printed medium is a first printed medium, a second printed medium is maintained by the media support bracket, and the means for coupling includes means for hanging the printed media holder from the media support bracket.
2. The combination of claim 1, wherein the printed media holder further comprises: means for decreasing inadvertent uncoupling of the printed media holder from the display structure.
Tricycle and Guide Handle (Huffy Corporation)
US 7,281,725 (October 16, 2007)
1. A tricycle comprising: (a) a mainframe having a front section including a steering assembly with a wheel mounted thereto and a rear section supporting a pair of spaced wheels; and (b) a locking mechanism for said steering assembly comprising: (i) a locking member secured to a rotating member, said locking member having a first groove; (ii) a stationary member having a second groove; (iii) a rotatable cap associated with said steering assembly having an engaging member and including engaged and disengaged positions, wherein said cap is rotatable between said engaged and disengaged positions; (iv) said engaging member configured to selectively engage with said first and second grooves thereby preventing relative rotation between said locking member and said stationary member when in an engaged position.
2. The tricycle of claim 1, wherein said locking mechanism further comprises a biasing sleeve associated with said steering assembly and said cap, said biasing sleeve configured to bias said cap toward said stationary member.