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Old 16.05.2011, 17:23
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Use of "comprise"

Just had a work tutorial on patent law .

Seems patent lawyers in Europe use "comprise" quite openly, ie "Procedure X comprises process Y and Process Z", meaning both these steps are in the procedure, but there are other processes as well. To me this statement means Procedure X consist of ONLY process Y and Process Z.
Are they wrong? Am I wrong? Has the meaning changed over the years?
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Old 16.05.2011, 17:27
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Re: Use of "comprise"

my understanding is that yes, unless there was a well placed "as well as" in the abstract/claims they would be limiting their definition of their own possible patent rights.
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Old 16.05.2011, 17:31
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Re: Use of "comprise"

Oxford dictionary shows there is a difference between "comprise" and "comprise of". One seems to be synonymous with "includes" which would suggest the list is not exhaustive and the other describes all elements...

Quote:
1 Comprise primarily means‘ consist of’, as in the country comprises twenty states. It can also mean ‘constitute or make up a whole’, as in this single breed comprises 50 per cent of the Swiss cattle population. When this sense is used in the passive (as in the country is comprised of twenty states), it is more or less synonymous with the first sense (the country comprises twenty states). This usage is part of standard English, but the construction comprise of, as in the property comprises of bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen, is regarded as incorrect.
2 On the differences between comprise and include, see include (usage)
Quote:
Include has a broader meaning than comprise. In the sentencethe accommodation comprises 2 bedrooms, bathroom, kitchen, and living room, the word comprise implies that there is no accommodation other than that listed. Include can be used in this way too , but it is also used in a non-restrictive way, implying that there may be other things not specifically mentioned that are part of the same category, as in the price includes a special welcome pack

All Greek to me...
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Old 16.05.2011, 17:31
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Re: Use of "comprise"

I'd agree with you.

i.e. New Zealand comprises of two islands would be wrong. However, if you were to say New Zealand comprises mainly of two islands then you could accept it.

Maybe the lawyers are being lazy or creating confusion so that they can earn their money later on?
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Old 16.05.2011, 17:35
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Re: Use of "comprise"

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Maybe the lawyers are being lazy or creating confusion so that they can earn their money later on?
So, status quo then.
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Old 16.05.2011, 17:35
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Re: Use of "comprise"

Off the top of my head, I'd agree with you. The OED has the following note;

Quote:
USAGE
According to traditional usage, comprise means 'consists of' and should not be used to mean 'constitute or make up (a whole').
However a passive use of comprise is fast becoming part of standard English: this use (as in the country is comprised of twenty states) is more or less synonymous with the traditional active sense (as in the country comprises twenty states)
Which also seems to agree with you.



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Old 16.05.2011, 17:38
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Re: Use of "comprise"

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So, status quo then.
You spotted that, then...
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Old 16.05.2011, 18:05
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Re: Use of "comprise"

"Comprises" need not necessarily imply totality but I agree that it usually does: pure water comprises oxygen and hydrogen atoms bound into molecules ... a triptych comprises three pieces.

As an aside, and as quoted by Sandgrounder above, "comprise of" is never correct. That sort of construction is used more and more in the passive mood ("the collection was comprised of twelve artworks") but is always incorrect otherwise.

"Consists of" is fine, "comprises of" is not.
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Old 16.05.2011, 18:48
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Re: Use of "comprise"

In my German class, the Frenchman corrected both us Brits about this. I've never forgotten it.
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