When a patent talks about a ‘preferred embodiment’ but goes onto to describe other particular details of a product am I right in thinking that none of those additional details are protected?
The patent is EP1301412B1
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What is protected is what is described in the claims. Nothing more, nothing less. While the rest of the patent describes the background, the invention and how it works, only what is in the claims matters with respect to what is protected. It is very important to make sure you are assessing the claims of an actual patent and not an application. Claims in applications are almost always broader than what ends up in the granted patent.
Looking at the linked patent, the invention is a tamper evident closure for a box. While the box and lid are described and part of the device, it is the tamper evident closure itself that is the actual invention. The addition of the box and lid are necessary to describe how the invention works. Again, what is patented is limited to the claims.
With respect to your question, in no way should you assume only the preferred embodiment is protected. In my experience patent attorneys only describe embodiments they plan on protecting. They may not get all those protections based on how the claims work out, but they surely want to protect them.