[ExI] comprisition, was: extropy-chat Digest, Vol 216, Issue 27

Stuart LaForge avant at sollegro.com
Sun Sep 19 16:06:14 UTC 2021

Quoting Anton Sherwood:

>>>> ??comprise? and ?compose? are roughly reciprocals, not synonyms.
> On 2021-9-16 15:03, William Flynn Wallace via extropy-chat wrote:
>> Wrong - They are synonyms
>> I am not sure what a reciprocal of compose or comprise would be.? ?bill w
> The archipelago comprises these islands.
> These islands compose the archipelago.
> There is an inherent asymmetry between the compound and the components,
> the container and the contained, the product and the factors.  Each can
> be described in relation to the other, but these are reciprocal
> relations, not the same relation.

Not being a fan of Nazis, grammar or otherwise, I won't speak to  
whether "composed" an "comprised" are grammatically synonyms or not. I  
will, however, state from personal experience that as terms of art in  
patent law, the two words convey different distinct meanings and the  
distinction can be costly to would be inventors. That distinction is  
that in a patent application, "composed" carries the connotation of  
completeness while "comprised" is open-ended.

So, for example, if you write in a patent application, "my invention,  
the electric light, is composed of a light bulb, a battery, and wires  
in a circuit", then that is the entirety of your invention. So if  
somebody else adds something to the circuit, like a switch or a  
resistor, then the new circuit is no longer your invention and no  
infringement has occurred.

On the other hand, if you write in your patent application, "my  
invention, the electric light, comprises a light bulb, a battery, and  
wires in a circuit", then somebody who adds a switch or diode to the  
circuit is still using your invention and it is infringing your patent  

So in patent law "comprised" infers that the components listed are not  
all there is to the invention, simply that any additional components  
are ancillary to the invention. While composed suggests the components  
listed are in total, the complete invention.

Applying patent law to the OP's use of comprised: A burger comprised  
of wooly mammoth meat might also contain beef, soy, or other fillers  
in addition to mammoth meat, but a burger composed of mammoth meat  
would have to be 100% mammoth meat and nothing else.

I hope that helps without being overly pedantic.

Stuart LaForge

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