Saturday, March 03, 2007

Narrow vs Broad Patent?

Should you go for a narrow or a broad patent?

Presuming the question is directed to the scope of protection, namely broad or narrow protection, the answer is both. Always both.

Patent protection is determined by the claims that are issued. The claims identify (list) the elements of the invention protected thereby. The fewer and more general the elements, the broader the claim, and the broader the patent protection.

Patents typically issue with a number of claims ranging from the broadest available down to the narrowest worth bothering with. (This is not generally true of poorly drafted and handled patents.)

The broadest patent claims provide the widest scope of protection, but also present the biggest target for a validity challenge. The range of narrower claims hedge against broader ones being later held invalid, and their narrower scope of protection might suffice.

So again the answer is both, always both, and if reasonably broad claims are not available, consider whether the value is worth the cost of securing patent protection at all.

More information regarding patents is available on the USPTO website at and my website at


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