Patent Claims as Elements Rather Than Boundaries
In order for a prior art reference to anticipate a patent claim, each and every element of the claim must be present in the prior art reference. Or the analysis for infringement: for there to be infringement, each and every element of the claim must be present in the accused product or process, either literally or as an equivalent. In both cases, patent claims are treated as if they are a series of elements–not as boundary lines that are crossed or not.
Perhaps this is so obvious that it doesn’t need to be said. And yet, for those who are learning patent law for the first time, it is hardly obvious – particularly when the opinions that we read talk about patent claims in boundary-like terms.