Houston, TX asked in Patents (Intellectual Property) for Texas

Q: If I receive a patent for a device to perform a specific function, can I use that exact device for different function?

And still be protected under that patent?

1 Lawyer Answer
Kevin E. Flynn
Kevin E. Flynn
  • Patents Lawyer
  • Chapel Hill, NC

A: It all depends on what you have in the specific language of the claims. If the claims are closely tethered to a specific use case then they may not apply to another use case.

Not sure what you mean by function. A patent on a method of using a screwdriver to drive screws is unlikely to apply to using the screwdriver as a paperweight or using the screwdriver to pry weeds from between the cracks in the sidewalk. But a patent claim on the features (shape) in a claw hammer does not care what you do with the hammer. You can pull out nails or open a paint can.

If you mean that you have a tool that is useful in one field (maybe poultry farming) and you find a new use in cake decorating, then maybe you can rework the claims to focus on the micro-task achieved rather than the context of how that microtask fits within a broader field.

This is where patent attorneys earn their fees. Work with a good patent attorney to either obtain appropriate claims in your current application, file a continuation, or file a broadening reexamination of existing claims that came out less than two-years ago.

If you found this answer helpful, you may want to look at my answers to other questions about patent law are available at the bottom of my profile page at


Kevin E Flynn

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