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Author Topic: Can I patent an existing product for another use?  (Read 1921 times)

xssx

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I have an idea that could be used worldwide. I have checked and the concept does exist by other companies but they have not yet prefected it.

The hardware is produced by company A and the software it uses is patented by company B and I assume the two companies have some agreement for use.

I would like to approach company A since they are the main player in the hardware and pitch my idea for use of their product and help it in its marketing.

I have some cash put away but not dealing with unlimited means.

I'm scared if I approach this major company with my idea they may steal my idea for its use. I do not have the means, talent or know how to invent this product myself when their product works flawlessly and could even be improved with some software tweeks I have some ideas for but since I'm not a software writer this does me no good.

How can I protect my concept and ideas from being stolen so I can approach the company and discuss?
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JimIvey

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Re: Can I patent an existing product for another use?
« Reply #1 on: 11-18-11 at 10:37 am »

Just to answer the question of the title, yes, a new and non-obvious use of a known (not new) thing is patentable.

I have checked and the concept does exist by other companies but they have not yet prefected it.

You won't be able to get a patent for what others already do.  If your idea is how to perfect the concept, you might be able to get a patent for it.

I'm scared if I approach this major company with my idea they may steal my idea for its use. I do not have the means, talent or know how to invent this product myself when their product works flawlessly and could even be improved with some software tweeks I have some ideas for but since I'm not a software writer this does me no good.

Here it sounds like your idea is basic and not "perfected", different from above.  To get a patent, your idea has to be something they don't already know.  I can't tell if you think the concept as it currently exists can be made better but you don't know how or if you have an idea that is different from what's currently being done but worry that you can't make it a polished commercial product.  Patents can only help you in the latter situation.

A good software patent attorney can help you properly cover your idea, even if you don't know how to make it yourself.

Regards.
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James D. Ivey
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NJ Patent1

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Re: Can I patent an existing product for another use?
« Reply #2 on: 11-18-11 at 10:40 pm »

xssx:  I’m a bit less sanguine than JimIvey and I respond only because I see some words in ur post that I see in a lot of similar posts, and hear all the time from “inventors” (or people who believe themselves to be “inventors”), either on the phone or at cocktail parties.  It frustrates me personally that these misconceptions are so pervasive.  IMO every college course in business law should include two lectures on basics of IP law. 

For example, I was approached by a housewife (I do not denegrate the role) who, upon learning I was a patent attorney, blurted:  “I have an idea for a wall mounted trash bag dispenser …”.  I cut-off the conversation as fast as I could.  But not before it was clear that, based on her experience, she thought it was a really cool IDEA to have such a dispenser that did so-and-so next to the trash barrel (and indeed it could be).  But before I excused myself to “wash my hands”, it was clear she was clueless on what such dispenser would look like, how to make one, how it would work, or if similar dispensers already existed.  To put it in patenteese, she could not describe the dispenser in sufficient detail to allow someone to make one and use one.  A naked idea, not an invention. 

The US does not issue patents on “ideas” or “concepts”.  Most of the world is the same.  Ideas and concepts are “free” in US law.  You typed that you have a way to “perfect” ideas and concepts of others, and later typed that you are concerned that your “idea” might get stolen, and that you haven’t talent or means to “invent” the product yourself.  This is confusing as heck and ur contradictory language probably due to ur lack of familiarity with patents. 

Per Jim’s post, consultation w/ a patent atty may help determine whether you have a naked idea / concept or a legally cognizable "invention".  Many attys offer a no-fee half-hour (maybe ¾ hr in a pinch) initial consultation for just this purpose.  In my jurisdictions (NY and NJ), such are confidential and privileged.  An atty who specializes in software may indeed be able to help you “flesh out” your idea into a patent application. 

You asked: “How can I protect my concept and ideas from being stolen so I can approach the company and discuss?”  IMO the short answer is 1, file a patent application, maybe a provisional (sorry Jim), or 2 have a good confidentiality agreement.  A competent atty can help you with either. 
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