Automated Law: Simple Claim Breakdown Function

Patent attorneys: we care about the independent claims. An independent claim is a paragraph of text that defines an invention. Each invention has a number of discrete features. Can I build a function to spilt a claim into its component features?

The answer is possibly. Here is one way I could go about doing it.

First I would start with a JavaScript file: claimAnalysis.js. I would link this to an HTML page: claimAnalysis.html. This HTML page would have a large text box to copy and paste the text of an independent claim.

On a keyup() or onchange() event I would then run the following algorithm:

  • Get text as from text box as a string.
  • Set character placemarker as 0.
  • From placemarker, find character from set of character:s [“,”, “:”, “;”,”-” or new line].
  • Store characters from 0 to found character index as string in array.
  • Repeat last two steps until “.” or end of text.

From this we should have a rough breakdown of a claim into feature string arrays. It will not be perfect but it would make a good start.

We can then show each located string portion in the array to a user. For example, with JavaScript we can add a table within a form containing input text boxes in rows. Each text box can contain a string portion. We can also add a checkbox to each portion or table row.

The user can then be offered “spilt” or “join” option buttons.

  • “Split” requires only one selection.
  • The user is told to place the cursor/select text in the box where they want the split to occur (using selectionStart property?).
  • Two features are then created based on the cursor position or selected text.
  • “Join” requires > 1 features to be selected via the checkboxes.
  • All selected features are combined into one string portion in one text box which replaces the previous text boxes (possibly by redrawing the table).

Once any splitting or joining is complete the user can confirm the features. A confirm button could use the POST method to input the features to a PHP script that saves them as XML on the server.

<claim><number>1</number><feature id="1">A method for doing something comprising:</feature>...</claim>

Managing People: Getting the Most from Outlook Tasks

A while back we looked at using “Assigned Tasks” to send tasks to other people.

This previous technique required the recipient to manage their own tasks. This may not be great if the recipient is over-loaded. It also does not allow the sender of the task to change the task properties (e.g. change priority to urgent or move to another date).

There is another way to manage people using Outlook tasks. This is by using shared tasks. How to do this is explained below.


Setup a Shared Folder – Managee Computer

We will assume the person you want to manage is a “managee”. These steps need to be performed on the managee’s computer.

  1. Click on “Tasks” at the bottom of Outlook.
  2. Click on the “Tasks” entry in the left-hand-side menu.
  3. Click on the “Folder” tab at the top of the tasks view.
  4. Click on “Folder Permissions” (second to last entry).
  5. Click “Add”.
  6. Select everyone you want as a “manager” and click “OK”.
  7. Select the “Author” permission from the dropdown list and click “OK”.

Setup a Shared Folder – Manager Computer

You need to perform the following steps on the computer(s) of those who want to manage the managee.

  1. Click on “Tasks” at the bottom of Outlook.
  2. Click on the “Folder” tab at the top of the tasks view.
  3. Click “Open Shared Tasks” (third to last entry).
  4. Type the name of the managee or select from the list that appears when you select the “Name…” button.
  5. The managee’s tasks should then appear in a folder with their name under a “Shared Folders” heading on the left-hand-side.


Adding tasks for the managee:

  1. On the manager’s computer, go to “Tasks” in Outlook.
  2. Select the folder with the managee’s name.
  3. Then select “New Task” from the top.
  4. The added task will now appear in the “Tasks” list on the managee’s computer.
  5. It is recommend to add a “Category” that says who added the task – this will help the managee filter by sender.

On the managee’s side:

  1. If they go to “Tasks” in Outlook and select the “To-Do List” view (red flag) from the “Home” top menu they can see all tasks due in the future and past in a handy to-do list.
  2. The managee can then concentrate on doing the tasks due under the “Today” section (or those in the past).

The manager can now, via Outlook on their computer, edit existing tasks. For example:

  1. On the manager’s computer, go to “Tasks” in Outlook.
  2. Select the folder with the managee’s name.
  3. View the “To-Do List” for the selected folder.
  4. Double click a task to edit or delete (this will only work for tasks created by the manager).

Tasks can be reassigned to a different date, can be changed priority, can have notes added  etc..

Hide Private Tasks

If the managee is using tasks and does not want these viewable by everyone (e.g. “walk dog”, “pick up crack pipe” etc.) we need to create a private folder.

  1. Click on “Tasks” at the bottom of Outlook.
  2. Click on the “Folder” tab at the top of the tasks view.
  3. Click “New Folder” and call this “Private Tasks”.
  4. On the “Home” tab select “Simple List” in the “Current View”, select all existing tasks (using SHIFT) the click “Move” button (to the right) and select the “Private Tasks” folder.
  5. New private tasks should then be added to the “Private Tasks” folder (by selecting it on the left-hand-side before adding a task).

Let me know if you find any tricks or alternatives.