Let's say I invent a new golf club with a unique grip and unique bend in the shaft. Both of these structures are claimed as inventions. Most users will try to use the invented golf club in a conventional manner, but doing so will not produce great results. For great results, users must employ a novel knee-squat method. It's a simple method. However, since users' first instinct is to use the golf club conventionally, I argue that the knee-squat method is not obvious.
1. In general, how successful are knee-squat method types of utility claims?
2. If you had $1,000 to spend on protecting all potentially patentable material (grip, shaft, and method) how much of that $1,000 would you spend on the method?
3. Would a copyright on the instructions of the knee-squat-method provide good protection, or would a competitor simply be able to rephrase the method and work around the copyright?
While I'm tempted to say your method probably isn't worth squat... uh...
Okay, here goes for real. Your method can only be directly infringed by your customers. Suing customers is always a bad thing. This reduces value for such method claims. And my distinct bias is that article claims are much better than method claims, just on general principle, so I tend to value method claims low even as a starting point.
I can't quite tell based on your description, but if the new grip and shaft are really only useful using your method (that is, if they actually produce crappy results with a normal stance/swing), then if you only ended up with the method claims, you can still use those facts to argue inducement/contribution of infringement of the method on the part of any manufacturer who makes your grip/shaft. I.e., the club sucks for normal use, so the maker knows he's selling to people using your patented method.
So let's say you decide to have written for you a patent app with all 3 aspects claimed (grip/shaft/method of swinging). If I was going to try to parse attorney hours spent by relative value to me of the aspects claimed, I might rest this decision on an assessment of the relative patentability of each aspect. For example, you do a quick search on golf clubs and find that in 1908, Bagger Vance had a very similar grip made up. And in 1933, similar shafts were made to save materials during the depression. Then some whack examiner imagines some benefit that PHOSITA would dream up to combine the two. But hey, the method of swinging is completely unrelated to these, and those claims sail through... ...and are all you're left with.
(And then in court, the defendant finds Tim Conway's "Dorf On Golf" VHS series and the court invalidates your knee squat method as anticipated by Dorf...)