Section 112, paragraph 6 of the United States Patent Act (35 U.S.C. §112) provides
“An element in a claim for a combination may be expressed as a means or step for performing a specified function without the recital of structure, material, or acts in support thereof, and such claim shall be construed to cover the corresponding structure, material, or acts described in the specification and equivalents thereof.” (emphasis added)
Thus the term denotes equivalents in means-plus-function claims. Section 112 equivalence is a legal doctrine and is different from the equitable doctrine of equivalence.