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   Expired patent due to maintenance fee
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msarrazi
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Expired patent due to maintenance fee
« on: Sep 15th, 2007, 9:13am »
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I have a product that I wish to promote that is very similar in function to a previously patented product.  The product in question though has expired due to lack of maintenance fee payment.  I assume this means the original product has been abandoned.  Does this give me the right to successfully apply for a patent and market said patent without obligation to the original inventor?  I have made many design improvements to the product but the fact is that a "widget" is always a "widget" Right? Any help would be deeply appreciated.
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Re: Expired patent due to maintenance fee
« Reply #1 on: Sep 15th, 2007, 11:58am »
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You cannot get a patent to something that is already out there.  If the patent is truly expired, the subject matter of that patent is now in the public domain and able to be used, made, etc., by anybody.  It may be possible to get a patent for your improvements to that widget.  See a patent attorney with the details of your situation.
 
Importantly, it *may* be possible for the owner of a patent expired for failure to pay a maintenance fee to have the patent revived.  This is a very fact-dependent determination and you should have a patent attorney look at the facts of your case.
 
Even if you get a patent for your improvement, an unexpired patent on the base widget will prevent you from making, using, selling, offering for sale, or importing a widget plus your improvement.
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JimIvey
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Re: Expired patent due to maintenance fee
« Reply #2 on: Sep 16th, 2007, 10:41am »
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on Sep 15th, 2007, 9:13am, msarrazi wrote:
I have a product that I wish to promote that is very similar in function to a previously patented product.  The product in question though has expired due to lack of maintenance fee payment.  I assume this means the original product has been abandoned.  Does this give me the right to successfully apply for a patent and market said patent without obligation to the original inventor?  

Patents expire -- all of them.  You cannot assume anything about a product/service based on the status of a corresponding patent.  Expiration has no effect whatsoever on the chances of successfully getting a patent on a similar technology.
 
on Sep 15th, 2007, 9:13am, msarrazi wrote:
I have made many design improvements to the product but the fact is that a "widget" is always a "widget" Right? Any help would be deeply appreciated.

Wrong.  A new and improved (non-obviously so) widget can get a new patent despite many other widgets pre-existing.
 
Regards.
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James D. Ivey
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msarrazi
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Re: Expired patent due to maintenance fee
« Reply #3 on: Sep 17th, 2007, 8:27am »
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Thanks guys, I will be seeking further info under other topics regarding patentability of my product.  My initial question was answered as hoped.
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