Segmentation of patent claims for improving their readability

Gabriela Ferraro, Hanna Suominen, Jaume NUALART VILAPLANA

Research output: A Conference proceeding or a Chapter in BookConference contributionpeer-review

5 Citations (SciVal)


Good readability of text is important to ensure efficiency in communication and eliminate risks of misunderstanding. Patent claims are an example of text whose readability is often poor. In this paper, we aim to improve claim readability by a clearer presentation of its content. Our approach consist in segmenting the original claim content at two levels. First, an entire claim is segmented to the components of preamble, transitional phrase and body, using a rule-based approach. Second, a conditional random field is trained to segment the components into clauses. An alternative approach would have been to modify the claim content which is, however, prone to also changing the meaning of this legal text. For both segmentation levels, we report results from statistical evaluation of segmentation performance. In addition, a qualitative error analysis was performed to understand the problems underlying the clause segmentation task. Our accuracy in detecting the beginning and end of preamble text is 1.00 and 0.97, respectively. For the transitional phase, these numbers are 0.94 and 1.00 and for the body text, 1.00 and 1.00. Our precision and recall in the clause segmentation are 0.77 and 0.76, respectively. The results give evidence for the feasibility of automated claim and clause segmentation, which may help not only inventors, researchers, and other laypeople to understand patents but also patent experts to avoid future legal cost due to litigations.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 3rd Workshop on Predicting and Improving Text Readability for Target Reader Populations (PITR)
Subtitle of host publication14th Conference of the European Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics
EditorsSandra Williams, Advaith Siddharthan, Ani Nenkova
Place of PublicationNew York, USA
PublisherCurran Associates
Number of pages8
ISBN (Print)9781937284916, 9781632664075
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Event3rd Workshop on Predicting and Improving Text Readability for Target Reader Populations (PITR 2014) - Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden
Duration: 26 Apr 201430 Apr 2014


Workshop3rd Workshop on Predicting and Improving Text Readability for Target Reader Populations (PITR 2014)
Abbreviated titlePITR


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