Can various configurations of the same invention be protected with the same patent?
First of all we must start with the presumption that one patent application can only cover one and one only technical solution; a whole series of solutions cannot be included in the same application. If for example we invent a tool to peel potatoes, we cannot, with one patent, cover all kinds of potato peelers we may have in mind, but only one, the one we think best; eventually we can file several patent applications for each of them. This is what the law provides for in the principle of “invention unit”.
Having said this does not mean that, in order to get around a patent it is sufficient to add or remove something. In fact, when an invention is described, we need to emphasize very well, especially in the claims, the fundamental technical characteristic it has and which nobody will be able to copy. Once highlighted this characteristic, anyone, we refer back to our example, who would want to make a potato peeler, could do it as long as their system does not have the same quality that we claimed in ours.
In other words they would not be able to add or remove something in order to freely produce it, but they will have to find a totally different solution. Therefore, if the technical feature is unique, we could describe different working methods that will still be part of the patent. If, on the other hand, the solutions we talk about are very different one from the other, then we have to file as many patent applications as the created inventions.