Home » Patents » Patent claims ‘up-goer five’ style – a vocabulary of the one thousand most common words

Patent claims ‘up-goer five’ style – a vocabulary of the one thousand most common words

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis IPCopy writer suspects she’s not the only avid xkcd follower in the IP world (for the uninitiated, click here, and say goodbye to the rest of your afternoon).

In a particularly beautiful piece of linguistic manipulation, xkcd recently explained the workings of the Saturn V rocket using only the thousand most commonly-used words in the English language, in its comic entitled ‘up-goer five’. Proof, if ever it were needed, that in the hands of a creative mind, the most complex ideas can be expressed using the simplest terms.

It strikes this IPCopy writer that this entertaining concept is at the heart of the patent drafting process. Restricting yourself to a vocabulary of one thousand words may not win you awards for claim drafting any time soon, but the process could be a very useful (as well as entertaining) training exercise.

And, fortunately, this training exercise just got easier! Inspired by the up-goer five comic, a genius by the name of Theo Sanderson has created the “up-goer five text editor”, which you can find here. Insert your text, and the text editor will let you know when you fall foul of the thousand-word rule.

So, how does your latest patent claim measure up?

For some entertainment, we’ve tried it out on one of Apple’s slide-to-unlock claims (you know, that one that was revoked by the High Court last year), with the following results (words in bold are on the ‘no’ list):

A method of unlocking a hand-held electronic device, the device including a touch-sensitive display, the method comprising:
detecting a contact with the touch-sensitive display at a first predefined location corresponding to an unlock image;
moving the unlock image on the touch-sensitive display in accordance with movement of the contact while continuous contact with the touch screen is maintained; and
unlocking the hand-held electronic device if the moving the unlock image on the touch-sensitive display results in movement of the unlock image from the first predefined location to a predefined unlock region on the touch-sensitive display.

Here’s the attempt at an ‘up-goer-fived’ version:

A way of opening a hand-held powered thing, the thing having a touch-sensing picture-making area, and the way of opening being:
sensing when something is touching the touch-sensing picture-making area at a first already-noted place which gives an open-me picture;
moving the open-me picture on the touch-sensing picture-making area to mirror the way the touch is moved while touch with the touch-sensing picture-making area is always kept; and
opening the hand-held powered thing if moving the open-me picture on the touch-sensing picture-making area leads to the open-me picture moving from the first already-noted place to an already-noted open place on the touch-sensing picture-making area.

A few limitations too far perhaps, and an interesting need for compound adjectives…

Any advances!?

Emily Weal   28 January 2013


  1. […] an earlier post we recast an Apple patent claim into “up-goer-five” style by rewording the claim using […]

  2. Lachlan says:

    I find the translation below a little more natural, although I’m still not sure about “powered thing”.

    A way of opening a hand-held powered thing that has a touch-sensing picture area, such that the way of opening is:
    sensing when something starts touching the touch-sensing area at one agreed place, which shows an open-me picture; making the open-me picture follow the touch as long as the something stays touching; and opening the hand-held powered thing if moving the open-me picture makes it move from the first place to another agreed place on picture area, called the opening place.

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