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Is it Patentable?
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   improved upon design and function - infant garment
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   Author  Topic: improved upon design and function - infant garment  (Read 752 times)
NW
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improved upon design and function - infant garment
« on: Sep 30th, 2006, 3:01pm »
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I have been working on a new design that extends the timeline of use of a piece of infant clothing. It is completely different and there's nothing out there like it. It's a modification of an existing universally used item and I'm not sure if it should be patented or copyrighted? I have read different things during my research stating a clothing "design" typically is not patentable and should be copyrighted, BUT, the design is both a new design with functionality that current designs do not have.
 
Any help or guidance on where to start would be greatly appreciated.
« Last Edit: Sep 30th, 2006, 3:02pm by NW » IP Logged
JimIvey
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Re: improved upon design and function - infant gar
« Reply #1 on: Oct 1st, 2006, 9:59am »
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Novel and non-obvious functional clothing designs can be, and often are, patented.  In fact, it's probably more appropriate that copyright, since copyright coul allow others to copy the functionality, only changing aesthetic qualities of the clothing.  Of course, patents and copyrights are not mutually exclusive.  Copyright protection is so cheap to obtain that it's probably a no-brainer to get that.  The question then becomes whether it's worth the expense and effort to also get patent protection.
 
Regards.
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James D. Ivey
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NW
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Re: improved upon design and function - infant gar
« Reply #2 on: Oct 1st, 2006, 6:57pm »
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Thank you for your help... two more quick questions if you have time...
 
We have a possible manufacturer interested in seeing some of the designs we have created.  This design in particular could quite possibly change the way a portion of infant clothing is designed and sold.  It can apply to more than one type of infant wear, such as sleepers, pants, shirts, etc.  
 
1. We want to protect ourselves from having the idea stolen, so should we get the application for patent submitted on all items to which the design can apply, or will a simple NDA suffice while we perfect the design for application?
 
2. Do we need a separate patent for each type of clothing, or can we just patent the design itself and list the items to which it can apply?
 
Thank you again.
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JimIvey
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Re: improved upon design and function - infant gar
« Reply #3 on: Oct 1st, 2006, 8:29pm »
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on Oct 1st, 2006, 6:57pm, NW wrote:
1. We want to protect ourselves from having the idea stolen, so should we get the application for patent submitted on all items to which the design can apply, or will a simple NDA suffice while we perfect the design for application?

The NDA should be sufficient if (i) they agree to sign it and (ii) they honor it.  If they refuse to sign, you're stuck (unless there are others you can work with).  If they sign but violate it, you can sue them.  But, if your idea is really worth a lot of money, it's highly unlikely that you'll be fully compensated by suing on breach of an NDA.
 
Generally speaking, a patent would be better protection, but it takes years to get your patent.  Unless you can wait (and have money to go through the process), you're going to have to get started before you're fully protected with an issued patent.  
 
on Oct 1st, 2006, 6:57pm, NW wrote:
2. Do we need a separate patent for each type of clothing, or can we just patent the design itself and list the items to which it can apply?

It depends.  If you can describe your innovation in a relatively simple manner that captures all variations of it and that doesn't describe anything currently known or some obvious variation of what's already known, there's a good chance you'll only need one application -- at least initially.  If you really need 2 or 3 distinct descriptions to cover all variations, you'll probably need 2 or 3 distinct patent applications.
 
However, in your patent application, you're going to want to describe as many of your variations that you can think of.  Luckily, it's not as bad as it sounds.  If there's a core essence to your innovation and to all variations, you can describe that once and leverage from that description for all the various embodiments of your innovation.
 
Regards.
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James D. Ivey
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