Understanding When Multiple Patents Are Needed on the Same Invention

When submitting an utility patent for a certain use of, for example, optical sensors, can this certain use of the sensor be protected for ALL types of sensors in the same patent? Or would separate applications have to be filed for different types of sensors?

An experienced patent attorney would be able to protect your use of optical sensors without regard to the type of sensor in the same patent application. However, there would be two additional questions that would need to be answered.

Is the use of the optical sensors still novel and non-obvious if you don’t consider the sensor type?  In other words, does the type of sensor have an impact on the novelty of the invention?  If your invention is novel without regard to sensor type, then you can check this question off the list.

Next, does the invention change for different types of sensors?  Or does it stay the same, regardless of the sensor type?  In other words, are there any adaptations that you would need to make your invention for different sensor types?  If so, would one of ordinary skill in the field of your invention be able to determine how to make those adaptation without any inventive input?  If the answer to this last question is yes, then you would likely be able to secure your invention for all sensor types in the same patent application.


If you are interested in more detail related to your situation it is best to speak with an attorney.

Yuri Eliezer heads the intellectual property practice group at Founders Legal. As an entrepreneur who saw the importance of early-stage patent protection, Yuri founded SmartUp®. Clients he has served include Microsoft, Cisco, Cox, AT&T, General Electric, the Georgia Institute of Technology, and Coca-Cola.

Source: Smartup Legal