In an ideal world, the claims you file on a provisional patent or actual patent application would be broad. This isn’t always the case. One strategy to help create a strong patent is to ask, “How would my competition design around this?” Put yourself in their place. If you have a great idea, they’re going to want to copy it. What are the ways they might do so? Brainstorm a list of ways they might produce your product idea differently. Afterwards, you should be able to identify defensive claims that will protect you from copycats.
When you file, you want to file for a broad range of claims on your technology. It’s unlikely that you’ll be granted all of these claims, but the more you do ask for, the more you’re likely to receive. You will also be able to file for further continuations. A great patent needs to be a broad patent, so take your time in identifying all of the ways your idea might be imitated.
And remember, this is not a task you should leave up to your attorney! This is exactly the type of information they need to be provided with – by you. You’re going to do the best and most complete job. So start looking at your competitors.
Stephen Key is a successful award-winning inventor who has licensed
over 20 products in the past 25 years. Along with business partner
Andrew Krauss, Stephen runs inventRight, a company dedicated to educating inventors about selling their ideas and the skills needed to succeed. You can ask questions and get advice on the inventRight forum, check out the resource center, and listen to the weekly radio show on inventing. Get In The News, list your invention to have media outlets find you for news stories.