A 188 Claim, is a claim (application) for the patent rights for your invention. It is the filing of the necessary documentation of your invention to apply for a patent.
When I was studying for the USPTO Patent Registration Exam, I was fascinated by the fact that our Constitution was the source of the law that gives us the right to claim a patent. The ‘188 Claim’, is my shorthand version of a reference to a single sentence that is at Article I, Section 8, Clause 8 of the United States Constitution. That sentence reads, “To promote the Progress of Science and useful arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.”
While this special sentence also speaks to copyrights, because I was focused on getting my registration as a patent agent, I always treated my shorthand ‘188 Claim’ as a patent thing. It does not seem inaccurate to use the 188 Claim idea for copyrights, but to me it has always been about claiming your right to a patent.
Your right, that comes from a patent (if allowed) is your right to control the making, using, and selling of your invention. To me, this is a powerful thing, and thus it deserved a simple easy to remember shorthand. Since the more formal version of shorthand for the reference to that special sentence in the Constitution is I.8.8., and 188 is so much faster and easier to write, my shorthand note for filing a patent application became the ‘188 Claim’.
Thus, the 188 Claim was born.