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Patents are legal tools that help protect an invention from competitors. These protections can help provide the patent holder with legal recourse if a competitor comes out with a similar product. So once we have a patent in place, we have done everything we need to do to protect our product, right?

Unfortunately, depending on the details of the product or invention that needs protection, one may not be enough.

Take Progenity as an example. The biotechnology company recently announced that the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) granted the business yet another patent to help protect a product currently in development, a product it describes as part of its single-molecule detection assay platform. The tech firm states the platform will help with noninvasive prenatal testing and liquid biopsies.

Why multiple patents?

This patent covers methods and compositions used to target molecules and is just one of six patents covering different aspects of this system. The inventor is warranted in seeking multiple levels of protection because each patent covers a unique invention.

Multiple patents for a single product is not unusual. Best selling prescription medications averaged more than five patents per individual medication in 2005 — and this number has only increased.

How do I know if I need more than one patent?

If the invention uses multiple systems or processes the inventor can likely apply for multiple patents. A legal expert in intellectual property matters can review your invention and discuss the potential need for multiple patents or other forms of IP protection. This is important not only because you can determine if you need more than one patent, but also because a patent attorney can help draft the language used within the patent application to better ensure protection.