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Cooperative Patent Prosecution: Viewing Patents Through a Pragmatics Lens

Kristen Jakobsen Osenga

University of Richmond - School of Law

February 2010

Conversation is easy. We communicate with other people every day without giving conscious thought as to how we understand the information exchanged in the course of the conversation. Patents, by contrast, are hard. Understanding information conveyed by a patent is difficult, despite deliberate and conscious efforts to shape or improve the process. Scholars have not yet seen the connection between the two concepts. We have not viewed patents as conversation – but perhaps we should. Viewing patents as conversations allows us to tap into a rich body of scholarship from the pragmatics branch of linguistics – the study of language and how we understand it – and turn traditional wisdom about interpretation of patents on its head. Understanding patents can be as easy as having a conversation. What needs to change is not the interpretation process, but rather the conversation itself. The key difference between everyday conversation and patents is the lack of cooperation in patent prosecution, the conversations that give rise to patents. If we can create a greater air of cooperation in the patent acquisition process, then we can rely on linguistics to help understand what is being conveyed. We can make interpretation of patents much more like understanding everyday conversation – easy.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 59

Keywords: patent, claim construction, law and language

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Date posted: March 25, 2010  

Suggested Citation

Osenga, Kristen Jakobsen, Cooperative Patent Prosecution: Viewing Patents Through a Pragmatics Lens (February 2010). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1575010 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1575010

Contact Information

Kristen Osenga (Contact Author)
University of Richmond - School of Law ( email )
28 Westhampton Way
Richmond, VA 23173
United States
804-289-8112 (Phone)
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