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Author Topic: sound design with a functional application  (Read 619 times)

schaferhund

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sound design with a functional application
« on: 05-24-17 at 09:18 pm »

Hello,

I'm having trouble understanding which prior art to study to better understand my situation. So I wanted to hear others' opinions. (Owing to the uncommon subject matter, I would prefer having a draft in hand when I solicit professional help.)

I developed ear training software to teach myself certain musical abilities. Normally, ear training software would not be a confusing proposition from the perspective of patents. My problem is this: the system itself is not necessarily new or non-obvious; you might press buttons to compare and contrast sounds, be periodically quizzed on those sounds, etc. The new and non-obvious part of this endeavor are the sounds themselves. They took me years to design---not for aesthetic reasons, but for functional reasons. The sound design influences the user's cognition of the sounds, to therapeutically promote a certain mode of attention to the sounds while confounding other modes of attention which may otherwise distract from the desired mode. The individual sounds are synthesized and abide by describable parameters---of frequency content, relative amplitudes, behavior in time on the scale of milliseconds, etc---in order to affect the training goals.

Of course a sound by itself is not patentable. But in my understanding, using such specific sounds for such a specific educational task is getting closer to patentable. I can imagine, in my layman's imagination, ways to describe it as a method or a system, and I'm not sure how to proceed. The sounds themselves do not need to be newly synthesized by the system on the fly---they could be pre-rendered to storage with software currently on the market to then be employed by the learning platform. And again, the learning platform is not necessarily novel---at it's most basic it would equate to: "Here are 5 sounds and some arbitrary names to remember them by; learn the sounds well enough to be able to distinguish/identify them blind." So, on what kind of foundation would I build such a patent for these sounds?

(I realize that some of this may sound overly simply, but the sounds have, for me at least, solved a challenge in music education with which musicians have been struggling for centuries---absolute pitch. To better explain: the closest analog I can imagine are certain teaching approaches recently developed in psycholinguistics to help native Asian-language speakers to better discern the difference between R and L sounds in English---a phonetic difference which many such subjects do not normally perceive at all and is very difficult to teach. Certain methods employing sound synthesis have eased some of this difficulty.)
« Last Edit: 05-24-17 at 09:20 pm by schaferhund »
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still_learnin

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Re: sound design with a functional application
« Reply #1 on: 05-25-17 at 02:26 pm »

Not sure what you're asking. You first ask "which prior art to study." You then ask for "ways to describe" your invention (ear training software using specific sounds) since a particular sound isn't itself patentable.

So you're not really asking which areas of prior art do you need to distinguish, you're really asking about how to frame your description to overcome the problem "sound by itself isn't patentable" ?

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The above is not legal advice, and my participation in discussions on this forum does not create an attorney-client relationship.

schaferhund

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Re: sound design with a functional application
« Reply #2 on: 05-25-17 at 10:07 pm »

Thanks for responding--

I see it's a bit muddled. The two questions you have refined sorta run together in my head. 1) Regarding prior art, there's a lot of ear training to consider, but my sampling hasn't shown much that relies on the fussy sound design that I do. This leads me 2) to question my assumption that my starting point of "An ear training system comprising..." is the right framing to begin with.

And from there, my train of thought frays and I don't know where to keep learning. Questions pop into my head like "Is this an education thing or an audio processing thing? Is it a thing or a method? Well it's an educational product so it's a thing that is a method..." Etc. (Given that much online advice is phrased differently for things and methods, I don't know how to answer some of those questions.)

Am I missing the obvious boat here? Is this idea just a thing---an ear training thing---and from there I just describe "ear training thing that uses such and such sounds" and just go to town describing the sounds.... along the way searching for any prior 'ear training things' that also have something detailed to say about the sound design?
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still_learnin

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Re: sound design with a functional application
« Reply #3 on: 06-07-17 at 12:28 pm »

This leads me 2) to question my assumption that my starting point of "An ear training system comprising..." is the right framing to begin with.

And from there, my train of thought frays and I don't know where to keep learning. Questions pop into my head like "Is this an education thing or an audio processing thing? Is it a thing or a method? Well it's an educational product so it's a thing that is a method..." Etc. (Given that much online advice is phrased differently for things and methods, I don't know how to answer some of those questions.)

Am I missing the obvious boat here? Is this idea just a thing---an ear training thing---and from there I just describe "ear training thing that uses such and such sounds" and just go to town describing the sounds.... along the way searching for any prior 'ear training things' that also have something detailed to say about the sound design?

Not clear whether you're asking how to draft a patent application yourself, or how to write an invention description which you would provide to a patent attorney.

If you're just talking about a description to be provided to a patent attorney (or agent), then I say just describe the invention, what it is and how it works, focusing on what you invented rather than on existing / known technology. The attorney, as a professional who drafts patent applications for a living -- will know the best way to frame the invention in order to comply with the various statutory requirements (e.g. enablement, written description, statutory subject matter).

The patent attorney will also be in the best position to decide -- with your input, of course -- which elements to include in your claims, to balance the inherent tension between broader claims that capture more infringers and narrower claims that avoid prior art.
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The above is not legal advice, and my participation in discussions on this forum does not create an attorney-client relationship.
 



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