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DIY Patent
Old 08-20-2015, 07:52 AM   #1
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DIY Patent

I had an idea the other day for a product that I think would be useful and attractive to customers. It's a variation of an existing product that greatly eases installation of the product and enhances the safety and stability of the product. It's really a very simple idea and wouldn't add much manufacturing cost to the current version of the product. I did a bit of Internet searching and couldn't find anything remotely close to this idea.

I've never been involved in filing for a patent and I'm wondering if this is the type of thing that someone can do on their own, or would I need to hire a professional to help. I think I could produce a pretty decent technical write up of the idea, but not sure what else would be involved in the application process. Anyone here ever done this before?


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Old 08-20-2015, 08:25 AM   #2
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I have had two different ideas/inventions patented. Both times I chose to go with a good patent attorney to do the entire process.

The first idea has had five additional patents added to the original patent over the years to protect itself from other companies. These other companies may change their product, how they use it or the verbiage to get around your patent. My patent attorney has had to go back over and over and over to the patent office to get them to approve each different aspect/technical detail, argue about wording in relation to other patents, etc.

It has so far taken twelve years and is a high risk/reward situation. However we may be able to go after infringing companies in the future or sell the patent. Frankly, I never expected it to last this long or be invested this much monetarily. Thankfully I let my lawyer worry about arguing the technical details and how to proceed. As it is out of my realm of expertise. It has turned into a situation where once you start inserting the money, you have to determine how much your idea is worth to continue funding the lawyer, etc. If he or she is needed.

The second idea was much cheaper and did not require additional patents. It only went through the patent office one time for review. Still a considerable amount of money.

Without working in the patent field regularly, I would be hesitant to patent something without expert advise from whom I trust. Otherwise you could the idea patented yourself, proceed down the development stage, then get screwed on the back end when you did not protect yourself with the proper legal documents.
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Old 08-22-2015, 09:16 AM   #3
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I'm just curious. What are the chances that the time/effort/cost of a patent will pay off? I know there are so many ways to get around patents, and enforcing an actual violation costs money as well.

Get the patent and sell it right away? Then the new owner has the enforcement problem. But can you find a buyer?

-ERD50
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Old 08-22-2015, 10:40 AM   #4
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IMO, ideas a dime a dozen. Execution is what matters.
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Old 08-22-2015, 01:53 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by ERD50 View Post
I'm just curious. What are the chances that the time/effort/cost of a patent will pay off? I know there are so many ways to get around patents, and enforcing an actual violation costs money as well.



Get the patent and sell it right away? Then the new owner has the enforcement problem. But can you find a buyer?



-ERD50

These are all questions I've been asking myself. I still think it's a very innovative idea with a lot of potential. But, I don't think I'd be willing to spend tens of thousands to hire a patent attorney to achieve a patent. If I could do the patent work myself, for a few hundred or a few thousand, I might be willing to spend that. I'm also not interested in forming a business to market this product. If I did get a patent I'd like to sell it to a company already in the manufacturing business for this type of product. I guess my question still stands as weather it's feasible for me to do my own patent application work.


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Old 08-22-2015, 02:03 PM   #6
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These are all questions I've been asking myself. I still think it's a very innovative idea with a lot of potential. But, I don't think I'd be willing to spend tens of thousands to hire a patent attorney to achieve a patent. If I could do the patent work myself, for a few hundred or a few thousand, I might be willing to spend that. I'm also not interested in forming a business to market this product. If I did get a patent I'd like to sell it to a company already in the manufacturing business for this type of product. I guess my question still stands as weather it's feasible for me to do my own patent application work.


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Do not know how good they are, but I remember seeing TV ads talking about a company that will help you get a patent... I am sure they would want a percent of the profits....


IIRC, it is a cave man chiseling a wheel.... but I could be wrong...
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Old 08-22-2015, 02:20 PM   #7
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While it may be feasible to DIY, I'd advise against it. Key to a strong patent is the claims section and IMHO, that's best left to an experienced patent attorney. I haven't filed for a patent in a long time and costs have surely gone up. First thing you need to do is get your invention properly described and written down. Avoid disclosing the idea to anyone else. You could then probably do an initial meeting with a patent attorney where they could lay out the costs and timetable. As I recall, some 15 years ago, it cost more than $5000 for a patent I was finally issued. That included some back and forth with the US Patent Office before it was finally accepted. Then there are maintenance fees that have become quite expensive but if your patent is a success, then you'll be happy to pay them.

At some point there would have to be a prior art search but you should already have done some searching to see if something similar has been done in the past. Since your idea is a variation of an existing product, you should do some searching to see if there are any existing patents that might be problematic for your idea. Good luck!
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Old 08-22-2015, 02:56 PM   #8
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I wonder if there is a modern day solution to this?

What if you were to have a couple prototypes built, and sell at least one to a friend? Then put up a youtube video of the invention and the buyer.

I'm pretty sure someone cannot patent 'prior art', and this would establish it as such. So if someone wanted to produce this, would they then need to get a release from you, or help you patent it (and pay for that process)?

Or if it's not practical to build prototypes, maybe just outline the idea, as close to a full patent disclosure as possible?

Just a thought - I could be all wet on this.

-ERD50
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Old 08-22-2015, 03:27 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by ERD50 View Post
I wonder if there is a modern day solution to this?

What if you were to have a couple prototypes built, and sell at least one to a friend? Then put up a youtube video of the invention and the buyer.

I'm pretty sure someone cannot patent 'prior art', and this would establish it as such. So if someone wanted to produce this, would they then need to get a release from you, or help you patent it (and pay for that process)?

Or if it's not practical to build prototypes, maybe just outline the idea, as close to a full patent disclosure as possible?

Just a thought - I could be all wet on this.

-ERD50
It's very risky to publicly disclose an invention prior to filing an application. Doing so could jeopardize a patent ever being issued. There is a 1 year grace period but that might not be accepted for filing in foreign patent offices - something you may want to do as well. A few years ago, the US switched from a "first to invent" system to a "first to file" system like the rest of the world. That makes it more important to get going on an application as quickly as possible. You can also file a provisional application but that comes with limitations and consequences as well.

I would strongly urge an individual inventor to at least invest in an hour or so of a patent attorney's time before doing anything beyond getting a clear and concise description of the invention written down especially how it's an improvement over what exists. Sketches are nice too but full blown technical drawings aren't necessary. A good concise description will reduce the time and cost for the attorney to get up to speed on what you've invented. Also, write down a series of questions to ask the attorney. Do a search for local patent attorneys and check out their websites. Some attorneys will offer a free consultation - the firm I've used certainly does.
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Old 08-22-2015, 07:47 PM   #10
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Txtig,

You mentioned that you have been involved with patent applications in the past. Do you have an employment agreement on file that gives your employer ownership rights of any patents?

I believe that was the case with my Megacorp.

-gauss
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Old 08-22-2015, 09:17 PM   #11
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Txtig,

You mentioned that you have been involved with patent applications in the past. Do you have an employment agreement on file that gives your employer ownership rights of any patents?

I believe that was the case with my Megacorp.

-gauss

Actually, I've never been involved in a patent application before. I've been tangentially involved in some contractual issues involving patents, where I had dealings with contractors who had to assume liability under a contract for some patent infringement issues. But, you're correct that my Megacorp does have rights to any patents that I might be involved in as part of my job. But, this idea has nothing to do with my work. It is far removed from what I do for a living. But, just a a precaution, I should probably review the actual wording of what I signed with Megacorp. I can't imagine them being interested in this patent, but I guess stranger things have happened.


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Old 08-22-2015, 09:33 PM   #12
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I would strongly urge an individual inventor to at least invest in an hour or so of a patent attorney's time before doing anything beyond getting a clear and concise description of the invention written down especially how it's an improvement over what exists. Sketches are nice too but full blown technical drawings aren't necessary. A good concise description will reduce the time and cost for the attorney to get up to speed on what you've invented. Also, write down a series of questions to ask the attorney. Do a search for local patent attorneys and check out their websites. Some attorneys will offer a free consultation - the firm I've used certainly does.

I'm thinking that this may be where I go with this. Talk with a professional before committing any serious money to this endeavor. Again, I still have a lot of confidence in the idea, but it is a seasonal product. And, not an extremely expensive product. But, in doing my research (I just discovered Google Patent), there are a bunch of patents out there for products that do essentially what my product is intended to do. They just don't do it, in my opinion, nearly as well as my idea.

I'm working on a prototype. I put one together yesterday, but had some problems. The actual product will require a very specific molded rubber component that I have no ability to fabricate. But, For the purposes of a prototype, I think I can put together a substitute made from common items found at any hardware store. Just need to find the right combination of parts.

Thanks to all for the feedback.


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Old 08-22-2015, 09:41 PM   #13
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You might find this in your public library.

Patent It Yourself - Nolo Press

As Ian pointed out, US patent laws have changed a great deal over the last few years, so you'd be best off borrowing (or purchasing outright) the most recent edition.
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Old 08-22-2015, 10:13 PM   #14
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These are all questions I've been asking myself. I still think it's a very innovative idea with a lot of potential. But, I don't think I'd be willing to spend tens of thousands to hire a patent attorney to achieve a patent. If I could do the patent work myself, for a few hundred or a few thousand, I might be willing to spend that. I'm also not interested in forming a business to market this product. If I did get a patent I'd like to sell it to a company already in the manufacturing business for this type of product. I guess my question still stands as weather it's feasible for me to do my own patent application work.
It depends how much work you want to do. You would need to do a patent search... not internet search for prior art. May have to do this internationally. I believe it has to not be obvious to those informed in the field.
I would ask what you plans are to market the patent? If they are not doing it, how are you going to get them to want to?
Having a patent does not lock in your riches. The person who invented the safety pin got nothing People did not understand its worth until after the patent ran out. If you're going to get the patent...plan how you want to use it.
good luck... btw, my companies made money on some of mine... and others likely not. But as noted above, you may have to defend it even after you got it. Do a good patent search.
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Old 08-22-2015, 11:18 PM   #15
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I have several patents from work and obtaining them was part of my job. The US has joined the rest of the world as going to a "first to file" rather than "first to invent". Patents are less expensive for individuals than companies but still are rather expensive. We were told the company expected to spend $100K+ to obtain and hold a patent. There are also issues of whether you expect to patent just for the US or spend even more to cover other countries.

Lastly, in the end, all the patent is is a license to sue. It is up to you to defend the patent and that is not cheap by any means. Many patents can be bypassed by making sure they don't meet all of the requirements of any individual claim. Often, this may mean that the product is not optimal, but still good enough to sell and it doesn't violate the patent.

Not trying to discourage you but go into it with your eyes open and realize that getting the patent is only the entry fee into this game.
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Old 08-23-2015, 12:03 AM   #16
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Lastly, in the end, all the patent is is a license to sue. It is up to you to defend the patent and that is not cheap by any means. Many patents can be bypassed by making sure [the competitor's product does not] meet all of the requirements of any individual claim. Often, this may mean that the product is not optimal, but still good enough to sell and it doesn't violate the patent.
^^ This.
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Old 08-23-2015, 02:59 PM   #17
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I'm thinking that this may be where I go with this. Talk with a professional before committing any serious money to this endeavor. Again, I still have a lot of confidence in the idea, but it is a seasonal product. And, not an extremely expensive product. But, in doing my research (I just discovered Google Patent), there are a bunch of patents out there for products that do essentially what my product is intended to do. They just don't do it, in my opinion, nearly as well as my idea.

I'm working on a prototype. I put one together yesterday, but had some problems. The actual product will require a very specific molded rubber component that I have no ability to fabricate. But, For the purposes of a prototype, I think I can put together a substitute made from common items found at any hardware store. Just need to find the right combination of parts.

Thanks to all for the feedback.


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Because there are some similar products out there, it may be a bit tricky getting the claims section of the patent written so that it's narrow enough so as not to overlap existing art but not so narrow that it could be easily circumvented. Odds are that the examiner will be carefully looking for ways to reject your claims and it's common for the USPO to initially reject some or all of them. That will result in a back and forth with the examiner, a procedure that a good patent attorney will be familiar with but a DIYer may not.

If you can make a prototype fairly readily, that's good - especially if it works the way you envision - but IMHO, it's more important to get a good description nailed down then discuss it with a professional. As I indicated, many patent attorneys will offer a free consultation. The last few patents I got in conjunction with my co-inventor used a step by step procedure to minimize the out-of-pocket expenses to which we committed before confirming we really had something unique and patentable. Good luck!
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