What is the “unity of invention” requirement in patents?
In most cases, a patent application is related to a single invention. However, there are instances where an applicant may create a group of inventions based on a single idea, such as a new product, a process for manufacturing the product, specialized equipment, and uses of the product. As long as the group of inventions shares the same technical features or ideas, they can be claimed in a single application. However, it is important to note that the multiple inventions claimed in one application must have genuine technical features in common. For example, it would not make sense to claim a kitchen knife and a car in the same application merely because they are both made of metal. The unity of invention requirement also applies to design patents, but a series of cups in different colours, for instance, can be claimed in one application as they share the same shape. The main purpose of the unity of invention requirement is to prevent applicants from putting unrelated claims into a single application, making it easier for examiners to review the application and helping the public use patent documents more efficiently. Additionally, this requirement helps prevent applicants from evading payment obligations since application fees are based on the number of applications.