Patents Protect Implementations, not Ideas

You cannot obtain a patent to an idea, only to an implementation of that idea. In fact, one of the main drivers behind the difficulty in obtaining software/business patents in the USA, is the definition of such patents as mere/abstract ideas.

A first corollary is that a patentee must realize that his “idea” is not protected, only all those implementations that:

(a) are described in the patent application;
(b) work; and
(c) are patentable (e.g., novel and non-obvious).

Others can and will copy the idea, modify it, etc. A good patent attorney will do his (or her) best to protect every commercially valuable consequence of the idea. Recent US law prevents even that.

Identifying potentially valuable consequences of an invention is not a  prefect art, perhaps because the future is often surprising or because there are so many possible futures. In any case, the idea(s) underlying the invention or product must first be teased out.
A second corollary is that a patent application is akin to a recipe book, not a wish list. It must include all the detail needed for the “cook” to carry out the implementation to be protected by the claim. Otherwise, no protection even for the implementation. Desired results, half-baked ideas and research directions do not provide any protection and often harm future protection.
A third corollary is that patents must cover many many possible implementations. Hence the proliferation of “optionally” and “alternatively” and “in some embodiments”.
So, do you know all the implementations you want to cover?