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Is it Patentable?
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   A case for a pro se' application?
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   Author  Topic: A case for a pro se' application?  (Read 1524 times)
warrendekker
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A case for a pro se' application?
« on: Dec 14th, 2005, 7:56am »
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Allow me to send up a trial balloon (I can hear the attorneys in the audience whispering...lock and load).
 
I would like to make a case for a pro se' patent application.  But, respecting the ground rules of the forum, I will use no specifics, and will discuss this with an analogy.
 
I have invented something, let's say, a new way of constructing zithers.  The zither is an incredibly small market, niche item.  Knowing the size of this market intimately, and how much time I have to build them (after doing my day job), I would say that the the range of profit available to me is probably somewhere between $1000 and $10,000 per year.    
 
 
So, my choices are:
 
1.  Just build the dang things, and forego patent protection.  Perhaps publish my designs on the web, to keep others from patenting it.  An argument for not getting a patent is...with $1000 to $10,000 per year in profits to protect, would I be able to justify the expense of defending the patent in court anyway?
 
2.  Hire an attorney and try to get a patent.  My problem here, is that the $6000-10,000 costs are more than I am willing to spend (and certainly more than my wife would let me spend), being more than the investment I have in the entire zither-making enterprise.
 
3.  Do my best, and make a pro se' application.  Costs there are in the sub $2000 range...something I can more easily afford.  
 
I will be honest and say that the major reason for wanting a patent is pride, more than greed.  I do believe that I have invented a better zither, and it would add prestige to my product to say that it is patented.
 
So, did I make a case for attempting a pro se' application?
 
 
Warren
 
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Isaac
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Re: A case for a pro se' application?
« Reply #1 on: Dec 14th, 2005, 8:25am »
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Of course you've made a case.   If getting a patent itself is a personal goal, I'd be the last person to discourage you from trying it yourself.  It might even be fun and profitable.  
 
Let me play with the facts a bit though.   I know that I'm cheating a bit.
 
In your scenario, you can realize a fairly limited profit by doing everything yourself.  One question might be whether or not you could realize a larger profit by taking a different approach and whether the profit available in the an alternative approach might not justify having a professional draft your patent in hopes of getting a stronger patent.
 
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Isaac
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Re: A case for a pro se' application?
« Reply #2 on: Dec 14th, 2005, 10:16am »
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on Dec 14th, 2005, 7:56am, warrendekker wrote:
I will be honest and say that the major reason for wanting a patent is pride, more than greed.  ... So, did I make a case for attempting a pro se' application?

I'll echo Isaac's comment and add:
 
Yes, I think you made the case.
 
I see patents as a business tool and as worthwhile only if you think the right to exclude others with outweigh the costs and effort of getting the patent.  In some cases, the benefits far outweigh the costs -- see, e.g., Eolas ($.5b from MSFT).  In many, they don't.
 
In hearing "how hard can it be?" from pro se applicants, I'm alway reminded of the farmer 10-15 years ago that gave himself a rootcanal using a cordless drill, hand mirror, and epoxy.  But I think the homebuilt aircraft is a better analogy here.  Many build them to outperform factory built aircraft for less money -- but it's not a venture to undertake lightly.  Some build for fun and end up never flying their aircraft.  There's nothing wrong with that, as long as you fully understand and appreciate the limitations of the aircraft you end up with.  It may be beautiful and look like it can fly, but it will be a museum piece.
 
In the case of a homebuilt patent, you may actually get one through the patent office, but it may lack the real strength to withstand a challenge in court.  If you want strong, enforceable rights in court, work with a professional -- a good one.  If you want a cool paper from the government with a red ribbon and golden foil sticker, go for it.  How hard can it be?  Wink
 
I hope that helps.
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Bill Guess
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Re: A case for a pro se' application?
« Reply #3 on: Dec 14th, 2005, 7:21pm »
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Hey Warren,
 
Here is a simple IQ test for self filing inventors.  
 
 If you believe that you are too dumb to do it, you are.    The facinating thing is that as your belief increases so does your IQ!  It's amazing.
 
Let's invent a new kind of  hammered zither.  We'll patent it and claim the available intellectual property which will include vibraphones as well.
 
 MIDI Controllable Hammered Zither.  
 
Hammered zithers (also called hammered dulcimers) consist of a sound box and two rows of overlapping banks of strings.  For each bank of strings there will be a pin block and an opposing bridge.  The strings are tuned chromatically from low to high away from the user.   The left bank will have a note then the right bank will have the next , chromatically higher note,  and so on.  Again overlapping kinda like shoe laces.  Some guys can really burn on these things.
 
Here's what we'll do:  electrically isolate each bridge piece and tuning pin (easy to do with a wooden rig) and connect each metal bridge to a microprocessor with respectivly arranged multiple pins.  This processor is capable of converting a +5 voltage into a midi note "on" message.  These notes will correspond to the note (and octave) of the zither string.  The + 5 voltage will come from metal hammers or "beaters" as they are called.   Power to the hammers could be hard wired (and tied to the players elbows)  or be battery powered from double A's loaded into base of each hammer.
 
To patent the above device, we draw the thing, number the parts.  Draw a block diagram of the circuit, nothing to it, a rectangle with a bunch of lines comming off that will go to:  power, MIDI out, D string, D# string, E string, F string, F# string, etc.  We can add a sustain pedal switch, an octave switch, and other stuff like that.  In the block diagram we'll show the hammers hanging around somehow.  You get the picture.
 
For the fun of it we could include a flow chart:
 
Is the device powered up?
 
Yes
 
Has +5 volts been received by the G# 2 pin?
 
Yes
 
Send MIDI note G# 2       etc..........
 
Then we'll crank out a vibraphone embodiment,.... might as well.
 
Same thing draw it, number the parts and describe it in the description.  
 
A MIDI Zither 10 comprising a sound box 12 a plurality of strings D1 through C#3 with respective tuning pins and bridge pieces, etc.  The hammers 14a and 14b deliver +5 volts to the strings which send the +5 volts to a processor 30 whereby a midi note is produced which corresponds to the string being struck, etc, etc, etc,
 
 
Then we'll  write at least one claim.
 
I claim:
 
1.   A melodic percussion instrument capable of priducing midi note "on" and note "off" messages, the instrument comprising a plurality of strikeable metalic tone members and at least one metalic hammer for striking the tone members and a means for sending a midi note "on" message when a user contacts the tone member with the hammer and a means for sending a midi note "off" message when the contact is broken.
 
And by the way, a nice string patch doubling the zither notes would sound killer.
 
Bill
« Last Edit: Dec 14th, 2005, 7:26pm by Bill Guess » IP Logged
warrendekker
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Re: A case for a pro se' application?
« Reply #4 on: Dec 15th, 2005, 3:18pm »
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Egad, Bill...a zither on steroids!!
 
Warren
 
(actually there WERE a lot of zither patents in the early 1900s, and banjo patents outnumbered guitar patents by a large number, at least this was the impression I got when doing research at a local university's patent library)
 
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