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   How simple can a patent be?
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   Author  Topic: How simple can a patent be?  (Read 1360 times)
Peter Beechey
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How simple can a patent be?
« on: Sep 15th, 2006, 4:10am »
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Hi, I believe I have invented a number of things... but have no experience in developing them further. One idea in particular I believe has huge potential - but it is very simple and easily copied. I would appreciate any comments from people more experienced than I as to how simple can a patent be to be deemed worthy of protection. eg was a paperclip ever patentable? because it is only a twisted piece of metal - and if so - does it therefore mean a particular kind of knot is patentable. I havent invented a knot - merely using this as an analogy to state that although I see commercial value in my new idea - and it is certainly novel - it certainly couldnt be considered rocket science.
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Wiscagent
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Re: How simple can a patent be?
« Reply #1 on: Sep 15th, 2006, 7:57am »
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I just did a search on the USPTO web site for patents with an abstract containing the word  "paperclip" or the phrase "paper clip" or "clip paper".  286 patents were listed.
 
The element americium, element 95, was patented by the great Glen T. Seaborg.  The first claim of the patent, US 3,156,523 is:  "Element 95."
 
So neither the subject matter of the patent nor the actual claims need to be complex.  Nevertheless, more simple inventions are more likely to be anticipated or rendered obvious by prior art.
 
I suggest that you conduct some quick prior art searches using the USPTO or other patent data bases.  If you find prior art that clearly anticipates your invention, you need not persue the matter further.  If you don't find such prior art, it may be worth pushing your idea a bit further.
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Richard Tanzer
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Peter Beechey
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Re: How simple can a patent be?
« Reply #2 on: Sep 15th, 2006, 2:56pm »
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I will search out the patent you mention this afternoon when I return. With your searching - are you able to advise is Patent 6368227 actually real?  
This patent seems both simple, nothing actually was invented but the process of using something already invented. How do these Patents get through - is it because no one has the time and energy to dispute them?
My own idea is 'revolutionary' - and has never been done - but is so blindlingly obvious and cheap to build that patent protection is the only protection possible.
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JimIvey
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Re: How simple can a patent be?
« Reply #3 on: Sep 15th, 2006, 3:11pm »
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Well, there are two factors to consider in why an apparently obvious invention gets successfully patented.
 
First, the patent system is implemented with human beings -- a notoriously fallible creation.  As a result, imperfect results are sometimes produced.  But Michael Jackson once addressed this very issue: "One bad apple don't spoil the whole bunch, girl."  In other words, anecdotal evidence of a bad patent here or there does absolutely nothing to prove that issuance of bad patents is some sort of epidemic.
 
Second, many people decry a particular patent as "bad" or as obviously obvious without fully appreciating (i) patents and how to tell what they actually cover and/or (ii) U.S. patent law.  So, a patent that looks obvious to an untrained eye often isn't.
 
I suspect one of those two factors, sometimes both, are at play when someone finds a patent that appears non-novel and/or obvious.
 
Regards.
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Bill Richards
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Re: How simple can a patent be?
« Reply #4 on: Sep 15th, 2006, 4:15pm »
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The other issue is that in hindsight, many inventions seem "obvious".  In fact, some of the most elegant solutions to problems are generally quite simple [in hindsight].  I like to refer to the phrase "Why didn't I think of that?"  To me, that may reflect an elegant solution.
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William B. Richards, P.E.
The Richards Law Firm
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