Relative or similar terms such as "thin", "wide" or "strong" constitute a potentially unclear element due to the fact that their meaning may change depending on the context. For these terms to be allowed, their meaning must be clear in the context of the whole disclosure of the application or patent.
It is preferable not to use However, if a relative or similar term such as "thin", "wide" or "strong" in a claim is used by the applicant as the only feature to distinguish the subject-matter of a claim from the prior art, the use of this term is objected to under Art. 84 unless the term has a well-recognised meaning in the particular art, e.g. "high-frequency" in relation to an amplifier, and this is the meaning intended.
Where the relative term has no well-recognised meaning the division invites the applicant to replace it should, if possible, be replaced, if possible, by a more precise wording found elsewhere in the original disclosure. Where there is no basis in the disclosure for a clear definition and the term is no longer the only distinguishing featurenot essential having regard to the invention, it may should normally be retained in the claim, because excising to excise it would generally lead to an extension of the subject-matter beyond the content of the application as filed - in contravention of Art. 123(2). However, an unclear term cannot be allowed in a claim if the term is essential having regard to the invention. Equally, an unclear term cannot be used by the applicant to distinguish his invention from the prior art.