Federal Circuit: Independent Claim Preamble May Limit Dependent Claims

In Pacing Tech v. Garmin, the Federal Circuit construed the claim preamble of an independent claim of a patent to be limiting for the dependent claims as well. The preamble of the claim, which referred to “a repetitive motion pacing system,” was found to be limiting because it “served as an antecedent basis” for limitations in the claim body, and as such affected the meaning of the claim.

This case is likely to weaken a strategy used by some patent applicants, which is to include preamble terms that make the claim scope seem reasonable at first glance and help the patent pass prosecution, but which may not end up being given effect by a court.

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