Claims are the most important part of a patent, because they define the limits of exactly what a patent does, and does not, protect from replication of your product. A competitor product may be problematically similar to your own, and it may impact on your sales, but determining whether their product infringes on your patent will depend upon the exact claims of your patent.
The claims form a numbered list of items that define the elements of the invention for which protection is currently sought or granted under the patent. 'Claim 1' will nearly always start with the essential key features of the invention, with further optional features that are sometimes included in the design following after.
There are two basic types of claims. The first is 'Independent' - this is a claim that can stand alone. A dependent claim, is combined with a preceding claim, to add additional aspects that are also to be protected.
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