Patent Ambiguity Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Patent Ambiguity, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Patent Ambiguity?

The inconsistency or errors in the language of written document.

History and Meaning of Patent Ambiguity

Patent ambiguity is a legal term used to describe an inconsistency or error in the language of a legal document. It is an uncertainty in the meaning of a word, phrase, sentence, or provision in the text of the document. This uncertainty can arise due to mistakes in writing or drafting, conflicting definitions, or unclear language. Patent ambiguity is different from latent ambiguity, which refers to a hidden or undisclosed meaning that may become apparent due to external evidence.

In legal proceedings, patent ambiguity in a legal document may lead to disputes or litigation to resolve the ambiguity. In such cases, courts may interpret the document using canons of construction or rules of interpretation to determine the intent of the parties involved.

Examples of Patent Ambiguity

  1. In a contract for the sale of a vehicle, the description of the car includes the words "blue sedan". However, the car delivered to the buyer is a "blue SUV", leading to a patent ambiguity in the contract.

  2. A lease agreement for a commercial property includes a clause that allows the tenant to make "reasonable alterations". However, the landlord and tenant have different interpretations of what constitutes "reasonable alterations", leading to a patent ambiguity.

  3. A will leaves the testator's estate to his "daughter, Susan". However, the testator has two daughters named Susan, creating a patent ambiguity in the will.

Legal Terms Similar to Patent Ambiguity

  1. Latent Ambiguity: A term used to describe an ambiguity that is not apparent from the language of a legal document but may become apparent when considered in light of external evidence.

  2. Scrivener's Error: An error made by a person who writes or drafts a legal document, such as a typographical error or a mistaken word or phrase.

  3. Rule Against Perpetuities: A rule of law that restricts the ownership of property to a certain period of time, in order to prevent the dead hand from controlling the property indefinitely.