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Many possible power supplies exist:

As a real example, a non-novel part of a disclosure (e.g. powering the microprocessor or general-purpose computer) may derive power from a battery (all kinds, one or more), and/or a solar panel(s), and/or an Ethernet (PoE) cable, and/or a USB cable, and/or an HDMI cable, and/or an AC adapter, and/or... a small nuclear battery (why not? Satellite application, perhaps), among others.

Questions:

  1. I'd just like to state to the effect of the above (leave all possible power modes to those skilled in electronics), and not draw figures for each power mode because I probably cannot think of them all. Advice here?

  2. I'd love to avoid in the description or claims any ancillary power components that anticipate various power modes (e.g. solar power voltage booster, battery charger circuit, PoE voltage reducer, battery overcharge protection, a radiation dosimeter(!), etc.). Can they be avoided in the regular patent application?

  3. If I'm not careful here, can an improvement to my art be granted by combining my (future prior art) invention with, say, an overlooked wireless power supply thus blocking me?

My Research:

From NOLO's How to Make Patent Drawings, the author states,

Multiple embodiments (versions) of an invention may be included in a patent application. The different embodiments must be presented as separate figures. (Emphasis is mine.)

From another NOLO book - Patent it Yourself - the author states,

Thus the scope of the embodiments should be determined by the appended claims and their legal equivalents, rather than by the examples given. (Emphasis is mine.)

Later in the same book, the author states,

In practice the courts have held that Part 2 means that any specific embodiments claimed must be disclosed in the description. (Emphasis is mine.)

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  • Is the power source a needed element in a claim? The most general way to cover an unimportant part is to not mention it in the claim. If a claimed element is a power source that might be a battery, lets say, a novel flashlight sold without a battery would not be a direct infringement.
    – George White
    Sep 28, 2022 at 4:36
  • Ah, so for a disclosure that has a block diagram of a microcontroller, control buttons, and some display, it's okay to leave off the power source block altogether as it's assumed it requires some power? It's the "full, clear, concise, and exact terms" that worries(-ed) me.
    – Drakes
    Sep 28, 2022 at 5:19
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    @Drakes Or just include a bow labeled “Power”.
    – Eric S
    Sep 28, 2022 at 15:51
  • RPA ? What are you referring to?
    – George White
    Sep 28, 2022 at 16:43
  • Sorry, Regular Patent Application, as opposed to a less strict Provisional Patent Application - just to be clear
    – Drakes
    Sep 28, 2022 at 16:49

1 Answer 1

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There is a difference between what you show in an embodiment and provide as enablment information and what you actually claim.

If you invent a new axle you can show a car and tires to give it some context but the claim will be "An axle, comprising a . . . ". You claim what you invented not the parts that are typically used with it. You could claim “A car with at least one axle wherein the axle . . .” But a company that made the axle would not directly infringe.

Use google patents to look at issued car radio patents. At most you might see "power circuitry” or “connection point for power”. Typically a power source is assumed unless the powering is part of the invention.

Look at a few patents in your field.

An image from a random patent - adding a voltage source would be very confusing.

enter image description here

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  • Thank you for the detailed reply and advice. Yes, I did look at many patents in my area (not computers but containing a processor, such as alarms), and most didn’t mention power. The ones that did showed perspective views showing a battery and power jack.
    – Drakes
    Sep 28, 2022 at 17:00
  • If I don’t claim the power supply, but mention there are power supply variations, then hopefully that anticipates those power supply variations so someone down the road can’t claim an obvious improvement by simply adding a solar panel? Is my understanding close?
    – Drakes
    Sep 28, 2022 at 17:04
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    If you claim a battery as an element in a claim and someone makes and sells the same invention but with a solar panel and large capacitor and no battery, they would not be infringing the claim. If the claim does not include the power source at all then a product that was the same as a battery operated one that you might make could not get out from your claim by changing something that wasn't even claimed.
    – George White
    Sep 28, 2022 at 21:06
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    A very common confusion is a change that gets around a patent and a change that makes something patentable on its own. Leaving off an element in a claim or doing the function of an element in a way that is very different than claimed, gets around infringing. That is not at all indicative that the modified version is patent-worthy itself. An obvious change should not be patentable.
    – George White
    Sep 28, 2022 at 21:12
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    A related misconception is that if you get a patent you can make the invention. Someone could add a novel powers source to your invention, get a patent, and still need to license you patent before they could make "their" invention because it is a superset on your invention.
    – George White
    Sep 28, 2022 at 21:12

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