Comparative Study on Patent Claim Interpretation: the United States and China
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In the current U.S. and Chinese patent law, claims define the scope of patent rights. Despite the special care given to write patent claims, the meanings of claim terms are still disputed from time to time in litigation. Interpreting claims to determine the scope of a patent is the first and most crucial step in patent infringement. This dissertation focuses on a comparative study of claim interpretation in the United States and China and addresses the question of whether the law of claim interpretation functions similarly or differently in the two countries. To examine the law in the United States, this dissertation mainly focuses on cases and statutes, while using literature such as treatises, law reviews, journal articles, and books as secondary references. When examining the law in China, this dissertation also focuses on some sources of information that are unique in the Chinese legal system. In addition to cases and statutes, a judicial interpretation is an important primary authority. Policy documents issued by the Supreme People's Court and speech notes from the judicial conferences are important documents in understanding the law. This dissertation has also looked into a special kind of literature: the articles and books published by Chinese judges. This kind of literature not only contains academic comments on patent law, but also serves as judges' testimonies on their understanding of patent law and the lawmaking process. This dissertation reveals the differences and similarities in the functions of the law. Though the U.S. patent law and Chinese patent law have very different conceptual frameworks and U.S. and Chinese courts define some rules for claim interpretation by different terms, some of these differences are artificial, and the law functions similarly to lead to a similar scope of protection. The U.S. law and Chinese law define a few rules in very similar expressions. However, the functions of those rules are not necessarily the same in the two legal systems. Based on the comparative study, this dissertation offers a policy proposal to balance the incentives to invent with the legal certainty to protect the public interest.
- Law