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I have an Invention ... Now What?
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   Start production without a patent
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Alex
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Start production without a patent
« on: Jan 3rd, 2005, 1:16pm »
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Hi everybody,
 
I never post any topics here but I've regularly looked over this interesting forum for several years, that's very good professional site. Thanks.
 
Actually I'm a scientist having some experience in patenting, I mean, I have my own patents in production. And now I feel I need some help. For several years I've worked with some idea, let say this is science intensive stuff in area of plasma physics but very practical in nowadays automotive industry regarding to internal combustion engines. And it is able to get some very unique improvement on a combustion process, fuel consumption, emissions, etc. Well, I don't want to bother anyone with the numbers and theory.
 
Now I'm on a stage of preproduction. I stepped over research, design, prototyping. And I guess during a month the product will be in a market in some limited series. Actually everything is ready to apply for the patent in couple-three days. But my feeling is very contradictory about this. I don't see any profit in my situation filing the application, I don't believe in patent protection and patent system itself especially for complex high-technology things (did anybody see the patents for space or military technologies?).
 
So, patent filing pluses:
 
 - probably some protection in the far future for product replication in mass production;
 - and nothing; yes you can mark the product as a patented, or put on a wall nice looking piece of paper.
 
Minuses:
 - open the technology secrets prematurely;
 - spending money and time, big money and lots of time;
 - giving cause to anybody to replicate the patent changing "couple nuts" without understanding a kernel just for manner making money on others achievement.
 
So, I think to start my business braking some common rules, no patent for a while, using some, let say, hardware-software protection for the product. I know one thing, any reverse engineering in this case takes more time than I've got, and for sure I'll be for several steps ahead.
 
So, my questions are:
 
 - have I any time reserve to go with common patent rules if the product in production;
 - is anybody able to make a patent for that product and raises a claim against;
 - is small production a real public disclosure if I save some trade-technology secrets;
 - could I file the application during one year of production.
 
I would really appreciate your opinion and advice what way I have to go, or any thoughts about.
 
Sincerely,
Alex
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JSonnabend
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Re: Start production without a patent
« Reply #1 on: Jan 4th, 2005, 7:54am »
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Alex -
 
From your post, I think you have some basics about the patent system wrong (e.g., that someone avoids infringement by "changing a couple of nuts", or that the patent does nothing other than providing the patentee with "a nice piece of paper to hang on the wall").  Rather than presenting a patent law primer, I'll simply suggest you contact a qualified patent attorney to discuss the matters.  
 
In short, though, you should assume that you will not be able to obtain patent protection  once your product has been in public use more than a year.  Also, you may consider that trade secret protection, while often valuable, does nothing to stop people from reverse engineering your product.  That's something to consider, I think, if your invention relates to internal combustion engine technology or the like.
 
- Jeff
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SonnabendLaw
Intellectual Property and Technology Law
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JSonnabend@SonnabendLaw.com
Alex
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Re: Start production without a patent
« Reply #2 on: Jan 4th, 2005, 10:33am »
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Jeff, thanks for the comments.
 
I'd like to just a little clarify the situation.
 
First of all, automotive <-> oil industry is very specific area, let say forbidden for some innovations. It is not just my words, it is my experience. And I'm not in a position to launch a war, and I don't want to do it because I'll be dead. So, my aim now is to get an initial market and public-practical approval. I really don't worry about reverse engineering, the most of IP is in a well closed chip, to open it you have to spend at least half a million. But on the other hand, if somebody want to get it, it means the technology is worth it. But anyway the key (theory) is in my hand, and I'd like to play this game as long as it's necessarily.
 
I've got many and very different suggestions, and from professionals too. I'm not waiting for "what exactly to do".  I'm very interested in overall opinion of this community, and believe it will be useful for other people in a discussion.
 
Thanks in advance,
Alex
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JSonnabend
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Re: Start production without a patent
« Reply #3 on: Jan 4th, 2005, 1:24pm »
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I'm glad to hear you've been in consultation with professionals on this.  To the extent that your invention includes copy protected technology contained in a computer chip, the DMCA may provide you with some protection -- at least in theory -- against reverse engineering.
 
I'm not sure what you mean by "you'll be dead".  Contrary to popular belief, the little guy can take on the big guys and win.  It just takes a good patent, a good attorney, and perseverance.
 
- Jeff
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SonnabendLaw
Intellectual Property and Technology Law
Brooklyn, USA
718-832-8810
JSonnabend@SonnabendLaw.com
Alex
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Re: Start production without a patent
« Reply #4 on: Jan 4th, 2005, 4:04pm »
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Jeff, "I'll be dead" is only expression, nothing frightened. I mean it just regarding to idea.
 
Unfortunately not everything in this world goes by low and conventional rules. Don't want to tell my personal story, just by the way, this is a second attemption to get in life this technology. At those time I dropped everything from small production stage, and changed my field of action for many years. I had a reason to do that.
 
And now I don't want to make same mistakes, and am going to do it quietly up to right time and place.
 
So, get back to the topic. Let say, I have proven technology which can be protected electronically for some period of time. I want to start  the production without patent application, and to watch for the situation when I'll really need it. The product will go with no advertising through limited community of the consumers with special terms of using it.
 
What is my risk on that?
 
Thanks,
Alex
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