QUESTION: Does a patented limited invention prevent a broader invention from being patented? If I have an IP that is much broader than an IP already patented by someone else, can I patent mine? I'll give you a rough, but clear example. If Newton patented his energy formula E=mv^2 /2, and Einstein came up with his own broader formula E=mc^2 from which the Newton's formula can be derived as a special and limited case, can Einstein patent his formula? Does Newton's patent prevent Einstein from patenting his formula?
ANSWER: Not necessarily, but probably yes. Patentability depends on whether the invention to be patented is obvious over prior patents. Therefore, it is not always true that a narrow patent makes a broad patent obvious. However, it is likely that a narrow patent will make a broad patent obvious.