PATENTS: Improvements based on the selection of sub-ranges can be patentable

What if your new technology arises from a known technology, and only differs from the selection of a specific sub-range of values (for example a specific percentage of compounds or a specific temperature)? What are the advantages of patenting such a development?

Patents may be granted for any inventions, provided that they are new, involve an inventive step and are susceptible of industrial application. This also applies to inventions based on the selection of a specific sub-range of values, such as temperature, pressure, volume or weight percentages of compounds, etc. These ranges may be relevant in a variety of technical fields, and in particular, in chemical sciences.

While assessing the industrial applicability of your technology may be straightforward, extra care should be taken when considering the novelty and the inventive step of such types of inventions.

Indeed, specific requirements in terms of patenting selection inventions based on sub-ranges need to be fulfilled, and patent laws have recently evolved on that matter. It is generally not sufficient to select an unknown sub-range of values, unless an unexpected technical effect or other non-obvious technical consequence may be argued in support of the inventive step requirement.

Imagine your competitor has already patented a similar development and discloses a broad range. What if you then find a narrower range offers an additional, improved and/or unexpected effect? This is a perfect example of an opportunity for you to promote your competencies on the market through patenting. Even if you might encounter issues with broader ranges protected by patents of competitors, it may be a good strategy to consider patenting your improvements.

To summarize, your invention may not only be patentable, which is undoubtedly an asset for your company but this can also be used as powerful leverage to license your technology to third parties and competitors.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to any of our experts at GEVERS to assist you further with adding value to your innovations. 


Ingrid Luyten – European Patent Attorney
Antoine Herbaut – Patent Engineer