In Class Clarification of Doc. of Equivalents

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Clear Equivalents

  • Method of making paper bags: patent=cookie cutter knife, equivalent=non-knife stamper with serrated knife below
  • patent=gyroscope, equivalent=same elements, same relationships, different in shape, form and size

Attributes of Equivalents

Important Features:

  • Mode of operation
  • Way it works
  • Means by which result is obtained
  • Matter of fact - jury must decide

Clear Non-equivalent

  • patent=uncovered golf ball, non-equivalent=one great circle of dimples uncovered
  • Method to keep cover on thermometer: patent=ring digs into plastic, non-infringing=ring friction lock
  • Coolers: patent=one axle roller handle, non-equivalent=multiple axles
  • Sewing: Adjusted, not modified machine in the prior art - there was an element of the claim missing (equivalent result, not equivalent apparatus)


  • Method: One judge ruled that you must show a hypothetical equivalent claim and that there is no prior art problem in order for a claim to be equivalent.
  • If you are missing a claim, equivalence cannot apply (on element-by-element basis: cannot compare something to nothing.)