Types of patent claims
Combinations of claims

Types of patent claims

A broad distinction can be made between two types of patent claim:

  • product claims, which relate to physical entities (eg, products, devices and apparatuses, and chemical substances and compositions); and
  • process claims, which relate to activities (eg, methods, processes and uses), as long as a material product is used to perform such activities.

With respect to process claims, the following are explicitly excluded from patentability:

  • biological processes for the production of plants or animals; and
  • surgical, therapeutic or diagnostic methods for the treatment of the human or animal body.

However, product claims relating to products for use in surgical, therapeutic or diagnostic methods are permitted.

Combinations of claims

Claims from different categories can be used in the same patent application, as long as they relate to the same invention. This enables patentees to broaden the scope of protection of their patent. Independent claims may, for example, be directed to:

  • a certain product;
  • a process adapted for manufacturing that product; and
  • the use of that product.

Alternatively, independent claims may be directed to:

  • a certain process; and
  • an apparatus or means specifically designed for carrying out that process.

Independent claims may also be directed to:

  • a certain process for manufacturing a product; and
  • a product obtained by means of that process, as long as this product is physically distinguishable from similar products obtained by other processes. If this is not the case, patent protection for the process of manufacturing a product is extended to products directly obtained by means of that process in many countries.


A well-drafted claim set covering the different possible claim categories relating to an invention is essential for optimising a patent's scope of protection.

For further information on this topic please contact Johan Aerts at GEVERS by telephone (+32 2 715 3711) or email ([email protected]). The GEVERS website can be accessed at www.gevers.eu.