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Functional Claiming for Mechanical and Electrical Arts

Surviving 112(f) and Disclosing Functional Basis to Meet Heightened Standard of Review

Recording of a 90-minute premium CLE video webinar with Q&A

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Conducted on Thursday, August 12, 2021

Recorded event now available

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This CLE course will guide IP counsel on functional claiming in electrical and mechanical arts patents and USPTO prosecution. The panel will examine recent court treatment and how to navigate the issue of functionality given the uncertainties in the context of prosecution and litigation.


In Williamson v. Citrix Online L.L.C., the Federal Circuit issued a decision relating to means-plus-function claims. This decision has had a dramatic impact on interpreting functional claim terms, regardless of whether construing claim language in prosecution, post-grant challenges at the PTAB, or district court litigation.

Patent law permits functional claiming in Section 112(f). The applicant must provide sufficient structure in the specification to perform any functional limitations. Since Williamson, patentees must meet a heightened standard of review by sufficiently disclosing the functional basis for patents in the electrical or mechanical arts.

Patent owners and their counsel must account for the heightened standards when drafting applications. In the recent Federal Circuit decision in American Axle v. Neapco (2020), Judge Chen note that the lesson to patent drafters should now be clear: while not all functional claiming is the same, simply reciting a functional result at the point of novelty poses serious risks under Section 101.

Listen as our authoritative panel of patent attorneys provides a brief overview of the Williamson decision and discusses how the courts have addressed the issues in recent decisions. The panel will examine functional claiming in the context of patents in the mechanical and electrical arts. The panel will explore the benefits and risks involved with using functional claims and offer best practices for leveraging Section 112(f) and functional claims to maximize patent protection.



  1. Review of the recent decisions and how the courts have applied them
  2. Functional claiming in the mechanical arts
  3. Functional claiming in the electrical arts
  4. Benefits and risks involved with using functional claims
  5. Best practices for leveraging Section 112(f) and functional claims for maximum patent protection


The panel will review these and other key issues:

  • What are the risks of a 112(f) interpretation for the patentee?
  • What is sufficient structure for supporting 112(f) claims?
  • What are best practices for drafting specifications to support functional claims?


Hines, Doris
Doris Johnson Hines

Finnegan Henderson Farabow Garrett & Dunner

Ms. Hines focuses her practice on patent litigation and has led teams in U.S. district courts, the U.S. International...  |  Read More

Stadheim, Theresa
Theresa Stadheim

Patent Attorney
Mueting Raasch Group

Ms. Stadheim's practice includes patent prosecution, specializing in electrical and computer arts, especially...  |  Read More

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