Claiming Title to an Idea
If you came to us thousands of years ago with the concept of a bicycle, and a wheelbarrow was the closest concept to your invention, you could receive a patent for "Wheeled Human Transportation." This covers more than just a bicycle and could for example be written to cover unicycles, tricycles, automobiles, skateboards, and other devices that transport people around on wheels. It is possible and usually desirable to also add more specific, narrower claims, for example to such features as handlebars, a seat, pedals, chains and sprockets, and two or more wheels.
Like the bicycle example, a pioneering patent can be very broad and cover much more than the drawings show. Alexander Graham Bell's telephone patent was a pioneering patent, covering a "means for transmitting sound over the wire". Other patents can be very specific improvements to an existing product, but may prove to be equally as valuable in the marketplace as a pioneering patent. One well-known example was Thomas Edison's light bulb.