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Anybody patented anything?

Discussion in 'Other Off Topic Forum' started by dantm, Mar 10, 2004.

  1. dantm

    dantm Formula 3

    Nov 1, 2003
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    Dan B.
    I would like to know any details about filing for patents and especially from those who've had experience with such things.

    I need to know if it's possible to patent things for *cheap* (relativelly, I know patents can run up to $20K+). Also if it's possible to get some form of 'patent pending', ie. where somebody submits a proposal and then the patent is not completed until fully paid, but the pending can be done for cheap.


    THANKS!!!
     
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  3. PeterS

    PeterS Three Time F1 World Champ
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    Jan 24, 2003
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    Once your idea is drafted and submitted to the patent office, you will then have a 'pending' status until the patent is issued (8-18 months). As far as doing it 'cheap', you will have to shop around for patent lawyers. You may receive a good price, but keep in mind if the examining attorney at the patent office has a lot of questions for your lawyer, you will be paying the hourly rate to your lawyer to get the issues taken care of. If your patent is rejected, you still owe the money to your lawyer for doing the work.

    Most people that file for a patent, never recoup their legal fees on their 'great idea'. In parallel, having a patent does NOT protect you from getting ripped off. It only provides you an offense if you take another company to court for marketing your idea. If you don't have the money to protect your patent, you probably should not apply for one (in the case of a really good product that people will want to copy).

    I am a believer that if your product is so good, pass on the patent and do the following:

    1) Manufacture the product with a cost model that would be hard for any company to get close to.

    2) Build your product in volume and get it in the supply chain as soon as you can with a good brand name. If your pricing gives the retailers and distributors enough 'attractive profit margin', they will have no interest in buying it from another source. Make your money and hang in there or do well from the start and sell the company.

    For starters, this will save you about $500.00! Go to www.uspto.gov and search for your product idea. Too many times, inventors come out with a product, spend thousands on tooling and packaging, only to find that there is patent protecting your idea.

    For further chat on this, drop me an email at sportcrystals@aol.com and I will try to reply as soon as possible.

    Pete
     
  4. Husker

    Husker F1 Veteran
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    Dec 31, 2003
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    western hemisphere
    I've seen these commercials run occasionally...the fellow even says "if you 'think' you may have invented something call now". I usually see these commercials from 11pm-2am, so I'm wondering if their target audience is the drunks and insomniacs. However, I bet they'd be glad to take your money.
     
  5. caddyman

    caddyman Rookie

    Nov 20, 2003
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    Brett
    You can patent it yourself pretty easily. I am working on a patent right now using Patent Pro software. It walks you through everything, then have a patent attorney look it over for you before you submit it. Total cost should be under $2,000 with all of the gov. fees that you have to pay. Good luck with it, Brett
     
  6. PeterS

    PeterS Three Time F1 World Champ
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    Jan 24, 2003
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    Stay clear of the Invention Assistance companies that say they will get your product patented. They are a pure rippoff. You can submit to them a pile of dog crap and they will tell you how good the idea is and how great their service is. They will farm out your legal items to an attorney and add profit on it. You can do everything on your own from securing the tooling needed, packaging and artwork all the way through to finding rep groups that will get your product sold.

    Please visit http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PALL&p=1&u=/netahtml/srchnum.htm&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=6347759.WKU.&OS=PN/6347759&RS=PN/6347759 to see the idea I developed and patented a couple of years ago. I went for the patent because it was a very 'stealable' idea that used only one type of material. I secured the patent because I wanted to get the product and sales off the ground and sell the company, which I did. Having the patent added stregth to the sell. I sold the company (Kitchenex Products Inc.) to the #2 garbage disposer company.
     
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  8. future328driver

    future328driver Formula 3
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    Dec 10, 2001
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    Ken Thomas
    As a patent atty, I will inject my 2 cents here....

    Plan to wait about 2-3 years from the time you file a patent until you can get it granted (if it gets granted). Absolutely no way that you can go from filing to issuance in 8-18 months. The patent office is very back-up right now and depending upon the technology, you will wait a long time just to get your original application reviewed by a PTO examiner. I have recently worked on applications filed 4-5 years ago that are still at the PTO.

    While many people can file their own patent paperwork properly, there are still other issues that you need to have an expert address prior to submitting an application. For example, I would HIGHLY recommend that you have a professional search firm conduct a prior art search for your invention. This will usually run about $500-$700. However, it will save you money in the long run if you end up filing an application in a very crowded technology where there is a lot of prior art that may hinder your application. There is nothing worse that filing an application only to have the first office action come back where the examiner has found a piece of prior art the kills your claims.

    Drafting the application yourself is very dangerous unless you are a federally registered patent agent or attorney or you are a lay person that enjoys reading all the current caselaw on claim drafting. The mechanics of drafting an application are relatively straightforward. However, a lay person is not up to the task of keeping track of all of the caselaw that exists which dictates how the specification and claims must be drafted. If you are not up on the caselaw you are llikely to make errors in the way you draft the claims that can seriously damage the value of your patent later on if you ever try to negotiate a license or get involved in an infringement suit. For example, I doubt that most "do-it-yourselfers" can explain what Prosecution History Estoppel is and how it can really screw up an application if you dont understand the current caselaw.

    If you have to do it for little money, Caddyman has a reasonable suggestion. Draft the application yourself and then have a patent agent or patent attorney review your specification and claims to be sure that you have not made any errors that will get you in trouble later on should the patent issue. But remember, everytime you communicate with the PTO, you run the risk of creating an estoppel situation in your case, so it would be to your advantage to have a patent agent or attorney review your office action responses as well.

    The basic filing fee for a small entity is $385. This gets you 20 total claims and 2 independent claims (therefore, 18 dependent claims). Extra claims cost more money. If you have to file an Information Disclosure Statement after the first office action is issued due to new found prior art, that will cost you $180 per IDS. Then, once you get into the office action process, you may have more expenses, such as the fee for a Request for Continued Examination or the fee to file an Appeal Brief. If the patent gets allowed and issued, you will be required to maintenace fees at 3.5 years, 7.5 years, and 11.5 years to prevent the application from being abandoned.

    With that said, I would consider it to be very optimistic to get an application filed for under $2,500 if you want to ensure that you have a solid application with claims that are just narrow enough to avoid the prior art yet broad enough to provide good claim coverage against infringers.

    You should be able to find reasonably priced patent agents that can draft an application properly for you. Patent attorneys will be more expensive. But, patent work is a very complicated area that does not lend itself well to layperson work. This is just too complex of an area of law for you to go pro se.

    If you plan on licensing the technology or selling the patent rights, you absolutely need an attorney or agent to draft your application. There are just too many ways to screw up that can hinder the value of your patent or cause you to waste money filing an application that has little or no chance of getting allowed.
     
  9. Erich

    Erich Formula 3

    Sep 9, 2003
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    Erich Coiner
    I am the named inventor on several patents. I am co inventor on several more.
    I have never done the patent work myself. My employer took care of all the lawyer work. I provided assistance on the technical side during the initial writing and reworking of the patent.

    The one thing I learned in all of this is: The patent office NEVER approves the patent the first time around. They find another patent and tell you that your idea has been done before, so sorry thanks for playing.

    At this point a good patent attorney starts to earn his salary. They work with you to finesse the claims so that you can still get a patent without infringing on the existing work. Sometime the USPO rejected the application 2 or three times until we got the wording juuuuuuuuuuuuust right. This work was done in the fairly crowded field of Thermal Inkjet Printing. YMMv.

    Erich
     
  10. future328driver

    future328driver Formula 3
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    Dec 10, 2001
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    Ken Thomas
    Sorry, forgot to address the patent pending issue. Once you get an application number from the PTO, you have "patent pending" status. However, this is of little value. It will not buy you much of anything in a licensing negotiation because you dont have a patent yet. There is no guarantee that it will ever issue, so you have little negotiating power.

    Patent Pending is really more of an infringement damages issue. It serves as notice to potential infringers that you have a application in work an starts the clock ticking on potential damages should an infringment occur. If the patent is issued, you can claim damages all the way back to your priority date (the date you filed) if you can prove that you were infringed prior to issuance.
     
  11. future328driver

    future328driver Formula 3
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    That is a good point Erich. In fact, if a patent did issue on the first time around, it would be a very weak patent. If it passes muster on the first pass, this does not mean that you have a killer invention. It means that the patent office did not look hard enough to find better prior art, which will most definitely exist.
     
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