In many cases the development and application of new optical technologies is a precondition for innovative solutions in other areas, such as mechanical engineering and apparatus equipment manufacturing, transport, electrical engineering, life science and medical engineering. The development of new optical components requires a high degree of technical know-how and major financial investment before the components are ready for production. Therefore, it is essential that intellectual property protection strategies take account of all the relevant aspects of the innovation so as to ensure its future successful exploitation.
The development and use of optical technology are concentrated on diode and solid-state lasers, femtonics, display technology, light-emitting diodes (LED/OLED), optical data storage, biophotonics, photovoltaics, EUV sources, sensors and analytics, optical switching elements for information and communication technology as well as holography.
A patent that has been granted only makes sense if competitors are deprived of the freedom to operate. The scope of protection provided by the granted patent claims is of crucial importance in patent infringement proceedings. To obtain optimum protection for an invention the inventive idea must be formulated in as general a manner as possible. However, such an abstract formulation may give the patent examiner greater scope to identify any relevant prior art and cite it against the application. An experienced attorney when formulating the specification and claims will be aware of this need to find the right balance between the scope of protection on the one hand, and the prospects of a patent being granted on the other. Introducing a number of generalisations that lie halfway between the overall idea and the practical embodiment of the invention (fall-back scenarios) will help to ensure that a patent is granted with the greatest possible scope of protection.