Strategies for Patenting Solutions to Scaling Challenges

            Whether your business has large- or small-scale production challenges, it is important to consider your intellectual property portfolio when developing solutions. There are a couple of strategies that may be helpful to improve the chances of success for applications geared towards production challenges.
            One strategy for a patent application that is directed towards a solution for a large or small production scale related problem is to describe how the solution in the application may address issues associated with that particular production scale.
            Another strategy may be to describe how a particular production scale enables the solution to work so that the production scale is intertwined with the solution in the application. An example of an application that intertwines the scale of the production with the solution may be found at U.S. Patent No. 4,906,578, which relates to temperature control of large tanks for the cultivation of microorganisms.

            U.S. Patent No. 4,906,578 recognizes that the large size of industrial-scale cultivation tanks may be leveraged to circulate liquid media throughout the tank. In particular, U.S. Patent No. 4,906,578 describes strategically cooling certain regions of large volume cultivation tanks to cause circulation within the tank.
            By jacketing the tank with a coolant jacket and including a cooling tube in a center of the tank, liquid media in contact with the cooling tube in the center of the tank and in contact with the walls of the large tank may be cooled to a lower temperature than a remainder of the liquid media in the large tank.
            As the liquid media in contact with the cooling tube and in contact with the tube in the center of the tank is cooled, this liquid media increases in density and sinks to a bottom of the tank, forcing circulation of the liquid media within the large tank. Such circulation may result in temperature consistency, as well as efficiently aerate the tank.
            Thus, the solution in U.S. Patent No. 4,906,578 is intertwined with the large size of the tank, as it is due to the large volume of liquid media in the large tank that a density disparity occurs for a long enough period of time to cause circulation within the tank. If the tank were instead a small tank, for example, including a central cooling core and coolant jacket with such a small tank would not result in a density disparity being maintained for a long enough period of time for substantial circulation to occur.
            So if you have developed a solution to a problem that is related to large scale or small scale production, describing how the solution is tied to the scale of the production (such as the large tank in U.S. Patent No., 4,906,578), may be useful to incorporate into the application for patent prosecution down the road.

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