Should I include a specific screenshot of my software in my provisional patent application?

It is good to have a mix of general and specific details in a patent application. The general details help provide breadth to the patent protection and the specific details help give us content to satisfy the novelty and nonobviousness requirements.

In a provisional patent application, specific details are somewhat more important because a provisional patent application’s primary role is to establish priority for the concepts described in it. To rely on that priority in the future for a given detail, e.g., in a nonprovisional patent application, we need to have the specific detail expressly described in the provisional patent application.

In the nonprovisional patent application, we will have a set of 20 patent claims that start broad and get more specific. The Patent Office will determine how broadly we can claim your system and still describe a system that is novel and more than an obvious variation of existing systems. The claims define what your patent covers – the specification and drawings will almost always be more specific than what we later claim in a nonprovisional patent application. There is solid case law stating that patents are not to be limited to the specific examples shown in the figures or described in the specification.

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