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  • Print publication year: 2008
  • Online publication date: June 2012

15 - Patents for inventions: exploitation, infringement and revocation


The role of the patent specification

A patent specification is a public instrument which contains the patentee's unilateral statement to the public of what are claimed as the essential features (integers) of the invention. The grant of the monopoly rights in a patent are balanced by the disclosure of the invention to the public.

As a patent specification is directed to a skilled person in the art to which the specification relates, it can contain less detail than would be necessary if it was directed to an unskilled person. The patent specification itself is made up of several parts which have different functions. The body, apart from the preamble, is there to instruct those skilled in the art concerned in the carrying out of the invention. The claims identify the legal limits of the monopoly granted by the patent and must define the invention in a way that is not reasonably capable of being misunderstood. Inadvertent or deliberate omissions from the claim have no protection. In other words, what is not claimed is disclaimed.

General principles for construction of patent specification

The patent specification is construed for a variety of purposes under the Patents Act 1990 (Cth). Issues of validity under s 18 are determined with reference to the invention so far as claimed in any claim. A simple example of an invention for forming a building foundation or slab may be useful here. A claim in a patent specification for such an invention included ‘placing concrete spacers on the ground’.

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