The EPC refers to different "categories" of claim ("products, process, apparatus or use"). For many inventions, claims in more than one category are needed for full protection. In fact, there are only two basic kinds of claim, viz. claims to a physical entity (product, apparatus) and claims to an activity (process, use). The first basic kind of claim ("product claim") includes a substance or compositions (e.g. chemical compound or a mixture of compounds) as well as any physical entity (e.g. object, article, apparatus, machine, or system of co-operating apparatus) which is produced by a person's technical skill. Examples are: "a steering mechanism incorporating an automatic feed-back circuit ..."; "a woven garment comprising ..."; "an insecticide consisting of X, Y, Z"; or "a communication system comprising a plurality of transmitting and receiving stations". The second basic kind of claim ("process claim") is applicable to all kinds of activities in which the use of some material product for effecting the process is implied; the activity may be exercised upon material products, upon energy, upon other processes (as in control processes) or upon living things (see, however, G‑II, 4.2 and G‑II, 5.4).

If the subject-matter of a European patent is a process, the protection conferred by the patent extends to the products directly obtained by such a process.

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