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The Right Way to Think About Patents

If you are an inventor wondering whether you should file for a patent, I suggest that what follows is the right way for you to think about patents:

  • A patent is a bargain between you and the government. In exchange for you teaching the public something new, useful, and non-obvious, the government will grant you certain monopoly rights for a finite duration of time.

  • The teaching that you do to satisfy your obligation under this bargain is found in your written description and drawings submitted in your patent application.

  • The monopoly rights granted to you, if the application is allowed to issue as a patent, are found exclusively in the claims section of the same application. The monopoly rights granted to you in an issued patent allow you to prevent others from making, using, or selling any product containing your invention.

  • The scope of those rights extend exactly as far as your claims permit. Narrow claims will result in narrow rights, whereas broad claims will result in broad rights. The bottom line is this - you want to obtain allowance of the broadest claims to which you are entitled.

  • Achieving this ideal outcome requires skill and foresight in writing the claims and vigorous prosecution between you and the patent examiner assigned to examine your application.


Ted Heske is the CEO of Heske Consulting in Atlanta, GA.  He is a licensed Professional Engineer and a licensed US Patent Agent.

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