Crafting Broad Patent Claims to Maximize Protection
Casting a Wide Net: Crafting Broad Patent Claims to Maximize Protection
In a previous article, we referenced one of the biggest developments in the history of communications — the emergence and rise of the smartphone through the introduction of the iPhone. However, one might argue that no singular invention did more to accelerate communications than the invention of the printing press. When Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press in the 15th century, he revolutionized the distribution of information by introducing the concepts of movable typesetting and using ink with metal type. Patents did not really exist at the time of his invention, but had Gutenberg been able to pursue patent protection, could he have claimed broad ownership over all printing methods? Or would he have been forced to limit claims to the specifics of his invention? Like Gutenberg, all patent applicants must strategize – what broadest claim scope can be supported for this invention?
Broad patent claims act as a wide net, capturing more infringing products and maximizing enforceability. But according to a 2022 study, less than 25% of patents are granted with the applicant’s original desired claim scope. Why? Examiners often require narrowing amendments to establish patentability over prior art. The key is finding the line between overly broad claims that will be rejected and overly narrow claims that fail to protect your full invention.
Key Considerations for Crafting Broad Patent Claims to Maximize Protection
The patent experts at Global Patent Solutions LLC (GPS) advise considering these strategies for crafting broad claims:
- Focus claims on big picture technical capabilities rather than implementation details. For example, claiming a printing method versus a specific printing press design.
- Draft claims using broad terminology like “comprising” instead of limiting terms like “consisting of”. This leaves room for additional elements.
- Vary claim types to cover high-level process, machine, system, and product inventions. Each claim type casts a different net.
- File abundant continuation applications to keep pursuing broad claims even if initially rejected. Don’t take early claim rejections as the final word.
- Be wary of overly broad claims that could be invalidated down the road or trigger litigation. Work with your patent practitioner to find the “Goldilocks” claim scope.
Remember, a patent’s value hinges on claim breadth. By crafting claims that maximize coverage without overextending, and working closely with experts like GPS, you can cast the widest net possible to protect your invention from copycats. Because in the end, how much you claim today determines what you can defend tomorrow.
This article is part of a series entitled “A Guide to Protecting Your Innovations”. To start the series at the beginning, click here.
Next up in our series: What are the key elements we need to include in the claims?