Patent claims can, of course, be drafted in a variety of ways. But applicants should be wary when drafting means-plus-function claims, pursuant to 35 U.S.C. sec. 112, para. 6. The trend of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has been to construe means-plus-function limitations with increasingly narrow scope.

One possible alternative for patent applicants is to draft claims using purely structural language. Such claims encompass the structures defined by the words in the claim. A means-plus-function limitation, in contrast, defines a structure by the function it performs and is construed to encompass the structure disclosed in the written description as performing the recited function, and its equivalents.

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