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I have an Invention ... Now What?
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   to patent or not
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petalz
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to patent or not
« on: Jan 11th, 2004, 9:16pm »
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i have an good idea. i make colorful accessories for cars.
the assessory is designed according to the customer's  
request.  can i patent this idea, or do i license it? i want to start a business vut don't where to start. i heard you can't patent an idea using an existing product already patented.  please  i really need help in a hurry
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eric stasik
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Re: to patent or not
« Reply #1 on: Jan 12th, 2004, 3:52am »
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petalz,
 
whether or not your "good idea" can, or should be patented are two different questions. as to the first, you cannot patent something which is already patented, or which you did not invent yourself.  
 
full stop. if this is the case, forget about a patent.  
 
a good place to look to see if anyone has already patented the invention is to do some research of the patent literature. the USPTO's patent database is a good (and free) place to start.  
 
http://www.uspto.gov
 
if you find nothing, then you may be able to obtain a patent.  
 
but as Mr. Auslander (who often posts on this board) reminds us, just getting a patent doesn't mean you'll ever be able to make money from it.  
 
in general, patents help you to protect your business, they do not themselves create a business. if you believe there is a substantial market for your invention, then you might want to consider obtaining a patent.  
 
but just getting a patent with the hope to make money licensing it to someone else is almost certainly a waste of money. (there are lots of exceptions to this, but it is a good rule of thumb.)
 
a patent can cost from 5000-10,000 dollars to obtain. if you are serioulsy considering it, spend a few hundred dollars with a registered, qualified patent attorney to find out all the facts for your specific situation.  
 
both Mr. Auslander and Mr. Ivey (who also posts frequently on this board) appear to be decent chaps. i do not know either of them personally, and cannot vouch for them, but from the intelligent comments they post, both seem to be good people to contact privately to answer any questions you may have.  
 
hope this helps.
 
regards,
 
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eric stasik
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Penny Ballou
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Re: to patent or not
« Reply #2 on: Jan 12th, 2004, 5:58pm »
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U wrote: i have an good idea. i make colorful accessories for cars. the assessory is designed according to the customer's  request. can i patent this idea, or do i license it?  
 
*** Depends. Are you saying (a) each one is created according to customer specifics or are you saying (b) a customer only gets to choose a colour, style, etc? If it contains patentable subject matter and if spending thousands in currency up front makes business sense and if you have funds to keep the patent alive and if the market size, projected sales; marketing trends and so on and so forth are positive, it may make sense to file a patent - - but it may not too. Patenting is a business decision. Licensing is a business decision. Grassroots market research and a "prior art" patent search accompanied by a written patentability legal opinion could act as guides to help you make a decision.
*** You do not need a patent to license out; your choice. You may need a patent to license-in to a company and maybe not. Some investors are willing to consider "patent pending" inventions while others are not. It is not clear whether you're taking the Venture or Licensing route to commercialization; therefore, discussing patent and licensing options are done in-the-blind It is also possible other forms of IP may apply and some may be more appropriate and cheaper too.
 
U: i want to start a business vut don't where to start.  
 
*** Not knowing what country you are in I'd recommend you visit a local business-based nonprofit agency for free entrepreneurial advice. If you are in the U.S. go to your Federal building to locate a SCORE (Senior Corps of Retired Execs) unit usually housed in with the SBA (Small Business Administration).  They have very, very cheap and free seminars and lots of free booklets in business planning and volunteer counselors to advise you. You can also find them online. *** I'd recommend you learn what a Business/Marketing Plan is then get crackin' on writing one. Getting into business without a doable plan and one may never arrive. I call it the "buckshot" business and marketing approach - if anything lands anywhere it would be a miracle!  
*** I'd also recommend you visit a local Reference Librarian especially one inside (if you are in the U.S.) a Patent Depository and Trademark Library (PDTL). Such IP units within PDTL's offer free seminars and courses in how to perform "formal" patent searches (not keyword searches) and they recommend publications and books on the invention/entrepreneurial process from start to product launch and market entry.  
 
i heard you can't patent an idea using an existing product already patented.  
 
*** Umm... I could interpret your Q in several ways. Are you asking if you can (a) patent and existing patented product or, (b) cannibalize an existing patented product in order to reduce your idea to practice by using its components? One can't patent an existing patented gizmo - even if a patent has expired. One must make "significant" improvements meeting statutory patentability requirements to possibly acquire a patent. I'd recommend you order a "prior art" patent search to see what turns up as well as seek legal advice and while you are at it, start studying industry magazines and catalogues in your invention field to see what is out there.  
 
please  i really need help in a hurry  
 
*** In a hurry eh? Filing a patent application and having one issue if you are in the U.S. could be a major issue in not taking that route (takes a couple of years or more for patents to issue depending on whether certain Petitions are filed to speed the process up - "if" any patent ever issues that is).  
*** If I knew why you are in a hurry it would help. One "hurry solution" is a Provisional Application for Patent (while you are at the PDTL check into publications about "Provisional Applications for Patent"). It reads like it must be a patent but it is not and really offers no protection other than securing a filing date for patentable subject matter. [Sorry Jim, I know you hate them and to be fair I've provided a link to your and another site so the poster can read more about them]:
  www.iveylaw.com/index.php?option=faq&task=viewfaq&artid=4&It emid=5 www.spectrum.ieee.org/WEBONLY/resource/jun03/inve.html
 
The U.S. Patent Office has free publications to help novice inventors decide which tool to use to accomplish legal goals: www.uspto.gov
 
Penny Ballou  
 
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M. Arthur Auslander
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Re: to patent or not
« Reply #3 on: Jan 13th, 2004, 6:22am »
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Dear Petalz,
 
The real question is, "can you get a patent that will give you the protection that you need?'
 
Even without an in depth analysis, it is likely that you cannot, on the basis of what you have written.
 
There may be alternatives which include trademarks. Trade secrets may be a solution but from what you say they may be hard to keep secret.
 
You need a combination of business and legal advice and the end answer is likely that you may not be able to be protected but you still may be able to go into business.  
 
« Last Edit: Jan 21st, 2004, 7:46am by M. Arthur Auslander » IP Logged

M. Arthur Auslander
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Re: to patent or not
« Reply #4 on: Jan 31st, 2004, 6:58pm »
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thank you...the information is indeed helpful and insightful.  I really appreciate your's and any other assistance.  Again, thanks!!
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