I just came up with the idea for an ingenious solution to a problem brought about by a new appliance. Should I, or should I not, try to patten it?
One school of thought says the Japanese (whoever) sit around the Patten Office waiting for new inventions to copy, or re-engineer, slightly alter and then mass produce. How much protection would a patten really get me?
Then again if I don't patten it once it's on the market they can do it anyway, right? I guess a patten would at least give me cause in court, neh?
Second; I guess I need to make a prototype, patten it or not, find a machine shop or something to make a gross for me and then get the proper type store Home Depot or Walmart etc to stock it. Anything else I'm forgetting besides the basic dob liscence etc.?
In general, a patent is most useful when you expect people to figure out what you are doing - and if you expect the solution to be valuable for a long time.
A patent can be of great value - or a liability. Many inventors find it best to document their invention without filing for patent - which leaves them with the right to claim patent based on notes, notarized statements, etc - but without the actual disclosure (yet).
If you can establish your ownership of the IP, establish viability in the marketplace, and sell to a company with the clout to fight copycats in court - you might have a winner.
Posts: 7707 | Registered: Oct 2004
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I really don't care what it is unless it's a self-cleaning diaper.
Posts: 1392 | Registered: Jun 2003
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Damn pickle how'd you guess?
It's not a guessing game.
Thanks for the help Drake. It's a simple idea, kinda a better 'mouse-trap'. It's not gonna be hard to figure out or duplicate. But I think it will replace the old 'mouse-trap' (which everybody has and will need even more of) and thus be valuable for a long time.
I'd patent (do so in the US, much longer disclosure time - likely 4 to 5 years for recent applications) and get patent insurance. Though likely you don't need to do so until you have a prototype ready (as The Drake notes, you should document your discovery with a dated notebook - should be of the type used by scientists (bound so that you can't add or remove pages - get it notarized as well is valuable))
A prototype is useful in that a patent lawyer can create a patent much more easily (and cheaply) with a prototype. Also they are useful for marketing to prospective partners.
LOJ, why would they sit on it? They've listed 22 variations of this tool but none of them with this very unique variation. And it wouldn't cost much more, if any more at all, to produce.
I wish I could tell y'all what it is so I could get your input and tell you all the ways it is better than the old version. But I guess that "wouldn't be prudent at this juncture". (To quote Dana Carvey doing GB the first.)
If I get rich, huge OA party and I'll fly you all to wherever it is, and put you up for a week. Super rich, Hawaii! Sorry Daruma.
The more I like you the better room you get. CP and Funean get the penthouse.
I've been a salesman for fifteen years, but I've always sold to end users. How does it work selling your product to a store? Do they get a percentage of every item sold? I guess I'll have to approach competing companies and negotiate the best price I can get? Or do they purchase them outright and sell them at a price they set?
I was just kidding. Theoretically, if it wasn't profitable they wouldn't want people using it (like the car that lasts 100 years). They'd rather keep their frequently needs replacement model.
Posts: 3639 | Registered: Nov 2000
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Here is a real example - coating a razor blade with diamond would make them never dull. Making razor blades a 'sell once' commodity. If your ;giving away the razor and selling the blade' that is in rather direct contradiction to your business model.
KE, there are clocks that start ticking when you disclose or release it for "public" use - and "public" use can be a lot of things you might not consider to be public.
So, if you're serious, you need to obtain some advice from a patent attorney or patent agent before you do much of anything. The casebooks are full of people who blew their patent rights taking seemingly innocuous actions.
Yeah, LR, I can see how the oil companies might not want to release the water run car, but this isn't like that.
Thanks Dag. That is what I'm afraid of. It's such a simple idea I'm afraid the first person I try to sell it to will go, "I can make that. What do I need this guy for?"
It's one of those ideas that once you hear it you go: "Damn, that's so obvious I can't believe nobody thought of it before."
So, far I haven't been able to find anything about it or anything like it in the US Patent Office search page Letter Rip linked me to. Thanks LR. Thanks to you all.
Yeah, CP, I love thinking of the things I'd do if I won the lottery. Not that I ever play it, so I guess I can't win. I keep a running tab on the people in my family and life. Depending on where they are when I strike it rich they might get a Lear Jet or a Saturn.
FDR, do you think I could work a deal with them so I could get a percentage of each sold or some such thing? Or would it be more of a lump sum kinda of deal. I really think the percentage deal would be better longterm. What do y'all think?
First of all, something like 2% of patents make money, so don't get your hopes up.
Having said that, I hope you are one of the 2%.
I have had patentable ideas (I have 4 or 5 patents through companies I worked for), but never a good enough business plan for it.
The toughest part is getting a market. Think of all the wonderful items on infomercials. Most of them look like really cool, timesaving ideas, but the inventor had to pay to get an infomercial to convince people to buy it. It doesn't sell itself, and it is hard to get someone else to sell it for you.
Manufacturing is also tough. If you plan to sell it for less than $50, it will probably be made in the Far East, and you need contacts and expertise there. And before you can do that, you will have to commit to thousands of items.
Also, just getting a patent, never mind a patent lawyer, is close to a thousand dollars, by the time it gets issued. More info at www.uspto.gov
If I were really confident of an invention, I would get a solid patent, and then approach someone who has done it before and get a cut. But I am no expert. Find an expert, and you will have a much better chance of success. At a minimum, get a lawyer to write up a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) that you can get people to sign before you talk to them. Although as with almost any contract, get a good enough lawyer and you can break it, or make it too expensive to prevent someone from breaking it.
Hope this helps, and is not too discouraging.
Posts: 2096 | Registered: Sep 2003
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From everything I've heard, you do NOT want to go to a larger company with the idea, even if you have the patent... because they have the money and lawyers to legally steal your idea (it's a 78 degree angle instead of a 79 degree angle, so it's an entirely different concept!)
I know someone on another forum who is in patent law, if you'd like me to put you in touch.
Posts: 845 | Registered: Apr 2005
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I'd gamble a thousand dollars, on a patent, that this thing is going to make money. Some of those things I see on infomercial ARE cool, but with a lot of them I seem to think "Yeah, but will it really work like that?", or "Yeah, but do I really need one?". With mine there will be know doubt in the consumers mind that it works because it works on the exact same operating principal with a superior configuration that gives the user multiple advantages and eliminates problems with the old-fashioned version of this product. (
Manufacture in the Far East, huh? I couldn't get it done in Mexico? I speak Spanish, know people who live in Mexico, and live in Texas. Would Mexico or a Spanish speaking country be out of the question?
FD, I appreciate the offer and if you happen to talk to him please mention it, but I know a lawyer and I think I'm going to run it by her, too.
I really think I'm going to do this. I talked to my aunt today (she's the smartest person I've ever met. I know titles don't impress us but she has more degrees then anyone I've ever met) and she thinks it's a great idea (she's also the kind of person that will tell you if you're being stupid). She said just what I said people will say; "I can't believe someone hasn't thought of that already."
I'm gonna do this. It might not pan out. And I probably won't get rich. But I might get to be my own boss and make a decent living.
And Velcro, I would think that most patents were minor variations on a theme and not something that replaced a common household object that everyone has in there house and replaces every year or so, no?
I'm going to make a prototype, see how it works, check and make sure there are no drawbacks that I'm overlooking, talk to my lawyer friend and go from there.
I'll probably end up like Steve Martin in "The Jerk" and getting sued back into poverty.
ANY more help and or advice will be very much appreciated. Thanks.
Good luck with this, and let us know how it goes, the process and outcome. Even if you don't get me anything, I hope you get good $,$$$,$$$,$$$ out of it at least. I've thought a few times about inventing something, but haven't really had much time or opportunity to check out the whole patent process. And here's hoping Funean gets her costumed minions
Posts: 523 | Registered: Jul 2003
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quote: Here is a real example - coating a razor blade with diamond would make them never dull. Making razor blades a 'sell once' commodity. If your ;giving away the razor and selling the blade' that is in rather direct contradiction to your business model.
Because I so rarely actually know anything (but this did hit near enough an area of expertise), sapphire proved cheaper than diamond razor blades, so it was used instead. It's about 1/3 the cost, with about the same cutting ability (for brain slices anyway). Of course I imagine it gets knoched easier, but I doubt if used properly it has any disadvantages to diamond blades. And steel is so much cheaper than either of the two it's still used for any kind of regular razor blade. Who is going to pay $1000 for a razor blade, even if they'd never have to buy another one in their lifetime?
Now, with synthetic diamonds getting cheaper and cheaper, that might all change, but we'll have to wait and see.
quote: Because I so rarely actually know anything (but this did hit near enough an area of expertise), sapphire proved cheaper than diamond razor blades, so it was used instead. It's about 1/3 the cost, with about the same cutting ability (for brain slices anyway).
I didn't mean only available for specialized applications - I meant generalized availability - ie shaving razors.
quote:Who is going to pay $1000 for a razor blade, even if they'd never have to buy another one in their lifetime?
The production volumes for surgical tools is miniscule (even if it were the same cost as surgical tools I don't see where you are coming up with a price of 1000$? Semiconductor fabs purchase it for 40-50$ for a piece of 2 inch substrate - surgical grade sapphire knifes I've seen for 150$ with 1.5 inch blades) The grinding/polishing to surgical quality is vastly more expensive than grinding to the quality needed for shaving.
Perhaps you are right that it isn't economical to produce them etc. but I'm skeptical that that is the case.
I don't know that this was under the advice of any lawyer or not, but in my previous job, when we came up with a new idea for a software package, my boss did a complete technical writeup with mockup screen shots of the product. He then mailed the documents to himself via certified letter(and didnt open it when it arrived). That way if it was ever needed, he could produce a dated document about when exactly we had the idea for the product.
It seems that a notarized document would serve the same purpose as well. Just an idea.
Hopefully I will not have to make a prototype for every variation? Hopefully I can make the original design and specify the other ways it can be assembled? Surely they wouldn't make me make every possible variation just to keep someone from varying the angle 1% like Lisa(?) suggested? (Sorry I called y'all Shirley. (Told ya I'm in a good mood this morning.
quote:The production volumes for surgical tools is miniscule (even if it were the same cost as surgical tools I don't see where you are coming up with a price of 1000$? Semiconductor fabs purchase it for 40-50$ for a piece of 2 inch substrate - surgical grade sapphire knifes I've seen for 150$ with 1.5 inch blades) The grinding/polishing to surgical quality is vastly more expensive than grinding to the quality needed for shaving.
I googled them and found them for around $1500 a pop. I'm sure they were really special, nifty diamond knives, but still, that's pretty expensive. And yeah, I figured you meant regular razors, but I think in that case you hit the cost thing even worse -- as it's almost negligibly expensive to make a steel razor blade. Even if a diamond blade costs $75, that's probably 200 times more than a regular steel blade.
The surgical steel blades we used were crazy cheap next to the sapphire blades (and some idiot always ended up breaking the sapphire blades anyway).
Posts: 1117 | Registered: Sep 2003
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quote:I don't know that this was under the advice of any lawyer or not, but in my previous job, when we came up with a new idea for a software package, my boss did a complete technical writeup with mockup screen shots of the product. He then mailed the documents to himself via certified letter(and didnt open it when it arrived). That way if it was ever needed, he could produce a dated document about when exactly we had the idea for the product.
It is called 'the poor mans copyright/patent' and is viewed as having little or no actual legal weight.
A Notarized document however is very strong.
quote:Hopefully I will not have to make a prototype for every variation? Hopefully I can make the original design and specify the other ways it can be assembled? Surely they wouldn't make me make every possible variation just to keep someone from varying the angle 1% like Lisa(?) suggested?
Your patent claims will have broad enough claims that many trivial variations will usually be covered. That is why you need a lawyer because you probably don't have the skill to write suitably broad claims (among other aspects). However it depends on how tight the original patent is. To create an exceptionally strong patent I suggested (and it was done) that we have a second legal team try and poke holes through our (the company I worked for) rather strong patent that had been written by one of the top patent law firms. They found quite a few holes which resulted in the patent being amended to cover the claims. Even then I was able to poke some minor holes in the patent claims (although it turned out the holes I found could possibly be covered by the technical drawings).
Anyway short answer - no. Your prototype should only cover your best embodiment, your patent should cover as many variations as you can think of however.
It's a on-demand online factory for small productions from 1 to 1000 pieces... they give you for free a cad software with wich you can draw the piece and automatically know how much it will cost to having it produced and have already an NDA policy.
Posts: 153 | Registered: Apr 2004
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Fizz, I guess after I get the patent I will give that a try. Thanks again.