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I have an Invention ... Now What?
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   Clarification on Patenting an Idea
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pippy
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Clarification on Patenting an Idea
« on: Aug 18th, 2005, 1:02pm »
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I'm glad I found this site!  I have been trying to search the archives and get answers to my questions, however I'm still confused.
 
I have an Idea and I too don't know where to begin. From what I have read, I would need to draw out my idea and state a use for it etc.....If I discuss it with anyone I should have them sign a NDA.  Now my question is, I have tried to search the US Patent web to see if my idea has been patented, and I don't have hours and hours to do this, but from the little time I have spent, I have not found anything.  After I do my drawing and discription of my product, do I then file a patent application?  My understanding is that the examiner at the Patent office will check the records to see if my idea is unique. Is that true? If so that would save me time researching.
 
Does it really take about 2 to 3 years before I hear anything from the examiner?  If so-will the filing of my application protect my idea?  Is that what patent pending means?  
 
Also the idea I have is a type of seat, I would just make use for it differently.  Do I need to get permission from the manufacturer of the seat or inventor of the seat in order to make a prototype for my idea?
 
As you can tell, I am real green when it comes to this, but I really like my idea.
 
Thanks
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GlobalPatentSolutions
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Re: Clarification on Patenting an Idea
« Reply #1 on: Aug 18th, 2005, 1:43pm »
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Hi Pippy,
All the questions you ask are very common to inventors who aren't very familiar with the whole patent process.  There is ALOT to the process of getting a patent.  It will probably take a few years and a few thousand dollars, at minimum, but if your idea is that good, the fees to get the patent will be compensated for later.
 
Just so you know, I am a previous Patent Examiner (I was an examiner for over 3.5 years and left the Office about 6-months ago) and so I can tell you that the examiner will do a search to see if your invention already exists but only after a few years and alot of money spent in filing fees for your application.
 
The best thing for you to do is to do a Patent Search.  It is a cheap way to see if your idea has already been patented.  The Patent Office search tool is very slow and inefficient and as you said will take a LONG time to search.
 
I will suggest that you have your invention searched by a Professional Search Firm.  A professional search firm usually uses advanced software and patent searching experts to perform the searches at a reasonable price.  
 
Please don't take this the wrong way becuase I am not trying to solicit you, but I just so happen to be in the process of starting a Professional Search Firm for inventors, just like yourself.  If you are interested please email separately at deo113@hotmail.com and I will be able to provide you with all the information you need.  Even a phone conference if you desire.  
 
The next step I would look into after the search and assuming you DO want to file for the patent, would be to hire a patent agent or lawyer.  I would suggest an  Agent since they are usually much cheaper and  should be able to handle all of your patent application needs.  Note however that it is possible to file your own patent and prosecute it, but the proceedures for doing so can be VERY complicated and taunting.  The examination process is based on a 3000 page manual called the MPEP.  You can type 'MPEP' into google and see some of it on the web just to give you an idea of the complexity.  An Agent or Lawyer will be thoroughly trained in using the MPEP and understanding the process.
 
I hope this helps out.  
 
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Jonathan
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Re: Clarification on Patenting an Idea
« Reply #2 on: Aug 19th, 2005, 10:08am »
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I would also add that the likelihood of finding a 102 / novelty-type document probably isn't that high. More likely, any results of a professional search you may employ will turn up references that could potentially be combined and deemed obvious by a patent examiner to reject your invention. Of course, combining references is subjective.  
 
Just something to consider before paying for a search. That is, you will be required to make the patent office aware of the search results if they are material to the patentability of your invention as you will be required to make the patent office aware of the results of your paid search if the search results are material to your invention.
 
I am not saying don't pay for a search, but be aware that you will be paying for a second search when you apply for a patent application.
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GlobalPatentSolutions
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Re: Clarification on Patenting an Idea
« Reply #3 on: Aug 19th, 2005, 11:25am »
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Jonathan makes a good point.  Your search may not turn up exactly what your invention is but an examiner may be able to combine different references and say why it would be obvious to combine them to come up with your particular invention.  If your application is rejected in this manner by an examiner, it is called a '103' rejection.  A good search firm will divide your invention into individual features and search them both separartely and as a whole.  This separation will help you find the most relavant art and help prevent the examiner from giving you a 103 rejection.  
 
I would suggest a search (i.e. a patentability search) before applying because it would probably cost only a few hundred dollars depending on the complexity.  If the search turns up references that disclose exactly what your invention is then you would probably not file a patent application and that would save you from spending THOUSANDS of dollars to file and prosecute your patent application.  
 
Doing a search before you file your application can also help your lawyer or agent in writing the claims for your case.  If the search firm gathers all the relavant art for you the lawyer or agent can make sure the claims are written such that the prior art doesn't 'read' on the claims which will GREATLY increase your chances of getting the patent.  Bottom line....you should DEFINITLEY get a search done before hand.  It will really help you out in the long run.  Good Luck.
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pippy
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Re: Clarification on Patenting an Idea
« Reply #4 on: Aug 19th, 2005, 1:31pm »
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Thanks for all your help!  Makes sense.  
 
I have been doing alot of research and I would really hate to spend that kind of money on filing for a patent just to find out that my idea is not marketable.  
 
I would like to market my idea, but I wouldn't want the company to steal the idea.  
 
Have any of you heard of Arthur D. Little Enterprises?
My understanding is that you can send your ideas to them and they will tell you if it will make money or  not, free of charge.
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