As is common with any specialist area, patent law is absolutely full of jargon. Even before you consider the care that must be taken when drafting a patent specification navigating the patent lexicon can be a minefield.
Patent professionals are often trying to express a significant amount of meaning in a succinct way. When you are in a office full of people who spend their time doing the same job as you it is possible to say a lot in only a few words as they can interpret your explanation based on their overlapping knowledge.
However, issues can arise when you don't properly consider your target audience. Suddenly your carefully selected words fail to communicate their intended meaning.
A recent example of this I encountered was when dealing with a new client I referred to the convention year, meaning the one year period for claiming priority from an earlier application provided by the Paris Convention. The client's previous agents had never used this term, so while the client was well aware of the details of the priority system I may as well have been speaking Klingon.
While we try to stick to standard language where possible this can make for rather verbose wording, particularly when speaking, so jargon may creep in. This is not a new issue and Wikipedia, the European Patent Office, and even the The Minerals, Metals and Materials Society provide glossaries aimed at busting the jargon.
While these resources can help, none of them are exhaustive and they are generally written with a particular jurisdiction in mind.
My tip if you ever don't understand some nuance of patent jargon is to ask, patent attorneys, due to their often nerdy nature, will normally jump at the opportunity to explain some intricacy.
All too frequently, intellectual property attorneys use patent jargon and, as a result, others are unable to understand. To reduce potential confusion, the following glossary provides general definitions of a number of frequently used patent terms with a view toward aiding in the comprehension of such terms.