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I finally decided to call the female and male parts of the joint "mortise" and "tenon" respectively.

But that's just what they aren't, in a conventionally formed puzzle. A tenon slides out of a mortice, as well as into it. You can define black as white if you want, but it tends to get in the way of your reader's understanding.

In a puzzle with interlocking pieces, the pieces can be disengaged non-violently by movement in a dimension where they aren't interlocked. The same is true of a dovetail.

john
Are there dedicated designations for the lobe-shaped protrusion and the complementary cut-out of a jigsaw puzzle piece???

Wikipedia calls them "tabs" and "blanks":

znark
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I suggest that a patent jury could be misled by a jigsaw patent that implies the pieces hold together by mortise and tenon joints - unless they do, in this new invention.

Apparently you've never dealt with patent applications. The semantics are not nearly so rigid. A description and illustrations that allow someone skilled in the art to understand how the device works are all that is required. I have three patents and one pending and I largely wrote their wording myself (with some guidance from my attorney).

Technical words in the English language are not handed down by divine edict, nor must they stem back to the roots of human speech. In the ever-changing world of engineering and science, one often must coin or borrow words if there are no appropriate ones available to describe a new object or concept (which is what you're always doing in a patent). In machine design this often results in using part numbers instead. A machine can have thousands of parts, so individually naming them becomes impractical. This by no means makes the part naming less legal than some magically decreed name. The fact that drawings are included in a patent ensures that there is no confusion regarding terminology or configuration.
Don A. Gilmore
Mechanical Engineer
Kansas City
I suggest that a patent jury could be misled by ... tenon joints - unless they do, in this new invention.

Apparently you've never dealt with patent applications. The semantics are not nearly so rigid. A description and illustrations that allow ... I have three patents and one pending and I largely wrote their wording myself (with some guidance from my attorney).

IANAL, but from my own experience(1) while you are, indeed, allowed to "be your own lexicographer" and define words any way you want, most lawyers I've worked with warn away from using terms, especially in the claims, in ways that could be misleading without reading the description. If there's no word that's pretty close, it seems to be better to use a term that will essentially scream "you're going to need to read the description to understand what I mean here".

The reason for this appears to be(2) that it's not merely the mythical "person with ordinary skill in the art" who needs to understand it. Should the patent ever come to trial, a jury will be asked to rule based on their understanding of what the claims in question mean, and they won't be given the opportunity to read the description, nor would they likely be qualified to understand it if they did. So it's best if the claims can be understood correctly in isolation, with the description merely providing the details of how to implement something that practices them.
(1) Sixteen patents, twenty-four pending, and one being written.

(2) Again, this is not a legal opinion, nor legal advice

Evan Kirshenbaum + HP Laboratories >The great thing about Microsoft
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Apparently you've never dealt with patent applications. The semantics are ... wrote their wording myself (with some guidance from my attorney).

IANAL, but from my own experience(1) while you are, indeed, allowed to "be your own lexicographer" and define words any ... to trial, a jury will be asked to rule based on their understanding of what the claims in question mean,

Well, ever since Markman v. Westview Instruments, Inc. (1996) it's been clear that claim construction is purely a question of law to be decided by the judge. (Typically in patent infringement cases there's a pretrial "Markman hearing" where the parties argue for particular interpretations of the claims before the judge.) So the jury's understanding is necessarily the judge's understanding.

The judge, in deciding what the claims mean, is supposed to do so based on the "person of ordinary skill in the art" standard, but easier said than done. The jury gets to decide the question of infringement.
and they won't be given the opportunity to read the description,

Why not?
nor would they likely be qualified to understand it if they did. So it's best if the claims can be understood correctly in isolation, with the description merely providing the details of how to implement something that practices them.

Another thing is that in several recent decisions the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals has moved towards a sort of "plain language" approach to interpreting claim language like, it's better to interpret a claim term based on its dictionary meaning rather than some special meaning used in the specification (even though this would seem to contradict the "patentee can be his own lexicographer" idea (which itself is based on older case law)).
With respect to patent prosecution, patent examiners are notorious for never reading the patent specification, so that's another reason for not using "own lexicographer" language.

Steny '08!
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(1) Sixteen patents, twenty-four pending, and one being written.

Really? For what? Oh... wait... ah, there you are. Hmmm. Well, I'm sure it makes sense to people in the field.

SML
IANAL, but from my own experience(1) while you are, indeed, allowed to "be your own lexicographer" and define words any ... (1) Sixteen patents, twenty-four pending, and one being written. (2) Again, this is not a legal opinion, nor legal advice

I wonder if the recent explosion of new patents has changed the way they are (or should be) worded. Patents are numbered chronologically, i.e. the first patent ever issued was patent #1. My first patent in 1998 was #5,756,913. By the time I got my third patent, only five years later, the number had shot up to 6,559,396, a jump of over 800,000 patents. That means that over 12% of all patents ever issued in the United States were issued during those five years!
Since I haven't seen a huge inundation of fabulous, innovative products lately (a phone with a camera...give me a break!), this seems to indicate that there are huge amounts of frivolous patents being filed for by large, hungry (and paranoid) companies like Microsoft and IBM that have the money to do so "just in case". I'm much more impressed by a person who has only one personally-owned patent for an actual, useful device than someone (like many people I know) who has 46 of these corporate patents with their name on them.
With so many active patents, there's bound to be a lot more litigation (they can't all be frivolous). I suppose that this could be affecting the way that such wording is interpreted and with what prudence we should choose our nomenclature.
Don
Kansas City
I suggest that a patent jury could be misled by ... tenon joints - unless they do, in this new invention.

Apparently you've never dealt with patent applications.

I've been writing them, asserting them, defending them, and attacking them, for over 30 years. It's my living, though I do trademarks as well.
So having (reluctantly) admitted that I claim some authority in the subject, I'd better add the requisite disclaimer: none of what I've written here is legal advice. But I did want to coax the OP not to make what I would class as an avoidable error in drafting.
The semantics are not nearly so rigid. A description and illustrations that allow someone skilled in the art to understand how the device works are all that is required.

No. A definition of the monopoly claimed is also ultimately required, though not in a US provisional application. But there's even more to it than what is merely required. There is best practice for maximising patent scope and strength to consider as well.
I have three patents and one pending and I largely wrote their wording myself (with some guidance from my attorney). ... name. The fact that drawings are included in a patent ensures that there is no confusion regarding terminology or configuration.

I wish.

Paul
In bocca al Lupo!
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The reason for this appears to be(2) that it's not ... they won't be given the opportunity to read the description,

Why not?

Purely a supposition on my part, but I didn't think that jurors were typically given entire documents to scrutinize, but rather were asked to listen to testimony concerning what the documents said, which might include read excerpts. I'd expect the excerpts to be carefully chosen and framed such that the chooser's interpretation was the one understood. If you let them read the documents on their own, you run the risk of their being colored by a misinterpretation of something (that you and perhaps even the other side consider) irrelevant.

The description in my latest granted patent (just over a week old) is rather short, about five pages (not including figures and claims). I don't think I'd expect a random juror to be able to read and understand it, and I find that when reading patents, while I (who have a fair bit of experience with them) can typically get a fair idea of what they're about on a first reading, it often takes a fair bit of time to be confident I understand just what they're claiming(1) and where the corner cases are.
(1) Or, more often relevant for our concerns, disclosing.

Evan Kirshenbaum + HP Laboratories >Never attempt to teach a pig to
1501 Page Mill Road, 1U, MS 1141 >sing; it wastes your time andPalo Alto, CA 94304 >annoys the pig.

(650)857-7572
http://www.kirshenbaum.net /
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