I caught myself writing like a patent lawyer today. It was a little unnerving.

In the instant example … blah blah … the preferred embodiment … blahty blah blah … a plurality of moieties … blah blah … the said R group … yawn … including, but not limited to …

It is surprising how easy it is to fall into the style of writing that characterizes patent applications.  It is easy to poke fun at our lawyerly brethren for this.  But the stylistic manner and the use of precise vocabulary with elaborate sentence construction is the result of generations of bitter experience in court. A long time ago, lawyers figured out that you have to say precisely what you mean to get what you want.  

Judges and juries have to arrive at conclusions based on something, so if your fate rests on their interpretation of ambiguous language, you may be in for disappointment.  Precise language is meant to prevent misunderstanding and place rewards and liabilities where they belong.

For chemists who are busy inventing things, it is useful to actually study the form and the language in a handful of patents.  This will give a sense of how intellectual property is actually staked out and claimed.  It is useful for the chemist to provide some guidance to the attorney in drafting claims and maximizing the value of the patent.

I deleted the “plurality of moieties” in the final draft. Just couldn’t do it.