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Posted: 1/27/2006 5:21:51 PM EDT
Just curious as how time consuming/difficult/expensive it is?
Link Posted: 1/27/2006 7:09:38 PM EDT
Cost about $5k with patent search. You can save money by doing a lot of it yourself but that is risky if you have a big idea.
Link Posted: 1/27/2006 7:39:20 PM EDT
My father and I hold a patent for a telco tool. If we had it to do over I don't know if we would bother. If your market is small just blow and go. You can sink enough money into a patent you will never get it back. IF a big company tries to screw you, you still have to put up to defend yourself.
Link Posted: 1/27/2006 7:45:11 PM EDT
I have three.
No idea what it cost, or what the financial benefit is/was.
The company I work for owns all my Intellectual Property.
Even if I think it up sitting on the throne at home.
They give me $ every once in a while for them. And I
pretend to be gratefull.
DanM
Link Posted: 1/27/2006 7:50:03 PM EDT
I have about 6 or 7 patents, but like DanM my IP belongs to the University I went to and the company I currently work for and they paid for the background searches, patent attorneys and filing fees. At my current company, we get money when we file a disclosure that gets accepted internally to go through the patent process.
Link Posted: 1/27/2006 7:54:26 PM EDT
Thanks for the info guys. I have an idea that would not serve a terribly large market and would probably be copied pretty quick. I'm thinking it's probably not worth the hassle to get a patent as on a cop's paycheck I certainly wouldn't be able to pay to defend it. I appreciate the info.
Link Posted: 1/27/2006 7:58:26 PM EDT
I had several in the mid '80's'. At that time, $3000.00m to $5000.00 was the norm for a fairly simple Patent. Now I'm told $10 K plus for same work. As I tell people, a Patent is only as strong as the Bank account behind it. Defending a Patent is horrendously expensive.
Link Posted: 1/27/2006 9:35:37 PM EDT
Just submit the preliminary aplication.

I think the fee is like $25 and it allows you to Put "patent pending" on your product.

This will scare off the small fish and if the big fish get involved, as stated before, there's not much you can do without the money to back you up.
Link Posted: 1/27/2006 10:45:33 PM EDT
I've been working in the patent field for about a year and a half. Cost to file is $500 for an individual, unless they've raised it again since last February. As for expense and time, it depends on (a) whether you really have something new or are going to get swamped by denials, and (b) how fast you are at typing. Oh, and (c) whether you actually know enough about your invention to write it up completely and accurately. It won't do you any good to submit an application which has gaping holes in what is called "enablement". Handwaving arguments like the famous "and then a miracle occurs" just won't do.

A patent search isn't required, but doing one will help you (a) avoid filing on things that have already been done, (b) write a patent that will withstand challenges based on close-but-not-quite prior art, and (c) get the USPTO to review your application sooner if you so desire ("petition to make special", for an additional fee of course).

I would suggest going to the USPTO.gov website and looking at similar RECENT patents (the formats have changed over the years) to see how they are written up. Then write yours similarly. The claims are the most important part and need to be written carefully. You have to be able to show that your claims are not covered by any existing "prior art", and the claims have to be supported in the specification.

The numbers scattered throughout the text are (generally speaking) "reference numbers" to the parts numbers on any drawings ("figures") that you have provided. Usually, if two different drawings show the identical part, people use the same reference number on both drawings, but it's not required.

For everyone who says patents aren't important, well, 'splain to me why so many gun companies base their protection strategies on patents? Glock (the Glock "17" was Gaston Glock's seventeenth patent), Calico, ARES (both the folding SMG and the Shrike), and even the OA-93 from Olympic Arms (very weak patent, IMHO, easily worked around).

Disclaimer: I am not a registered patent attorney nor a registered patent agent -- yet.
Link Posted: 1/27/2006 11:03:49 PM EDT

Nearly any involvement whatsoever with the patent system – in any way, shape, or form – is virtually guaranteed to cause you a monumental long term loss of time, money, and sanity. - Don Lancaster, The Case Against Patents
Link Posted: 1/27/2006 11:07:51 PM EDT
BTW, when you get through the claims, you really should have at least those reviewed by someone familiar with patents. Certain phrases and words have very specific meanings in claims, such as "includes" vs. "comprises" -- "includes" connotes "has exactly and only the following", while "comprises" connotes "has at least the following". "having" falls in between these two, and interpretation often depends on the specification section. "coupled to" vs. "connected to" is another, with "A coupled toB " indicating there could be other elements between A and B, while "connected" means there are no intervening items. There are also certain types of construction in the claims, such as "means plus function" language, which are dependent on the examples you give in the specification. Small things like this may or many not affect how well your patent will hold up in real life, if someone challenges it.
Link Posted: 1/27/2006 11:14:12 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Skibane:

Nearly any involvement whatsoever with the patent system – in any way, shape, or form – is virtually guaranteed to cause you a monumental long term loss of time, money, and sanity. - Don Lancaster, The Case Against Patents


Yep, clearly he knows more than Glock, Stoner, Gatling, Cetus Pharmaceuticals, and all the other patent-holders who have made and protected fortunes through patents. (I've read the site before, thanks to previous discussions here on ar15.com -- the guy who wrote it might or might not be an idiot, but his arguments are at about the same level as Richard Stallman's "we should all be good communists and contribute freely to society" crap).
Link Posted: 1/28/2006 5:08:46 AM EDT
That's pretty much the standard response I'd expect from someone who had "been working in the patent field" - Most used car salesmen defend their choice of career, too...
Link Posted: 1/28/2006 5:16:38 AM EDT
I've got 6 all paid for by companies I've worked for. they're not worth the money, just be first to market if you've got a good idea. they look good on a resume though.
Link Posted: 1/28/2006 5:18:10 AM EDT
So what is a good alternative to a patent? I've heard a copyright can be used in some cases. Patent pending only gives you a year to pull your crap together. How can you protect a design concept and keep someone else from patenting it?
Link Posted: 1/28/2006 5:48:05 AM EDT
I invented an addictive,all-encompassing,mind-numbing,time-wasting,eye-straining,keep-me-from-having-a-life,intellectually-challenged media format,went to do a patent search,only to discover that there already was.............ARFCOM!

Actually,my dehydrated water was NOT a very big seller.
Link Posted: 1/28/2006 6:17:01 AM EDT
If the upside to your invention is huge it pays to do everything right and document as you go in case someone else is thinking and/or doing the same thing simultaneously. I used a patent agent to get as much protection from thieves as possible. Do it right and if they encroach you can take every penny they make off your invention. Just ask Sears.
Link Posted: 1/28/2006 6:28:03 AM EDT
whatever you do - do not sell, publicize, etc untill you either file a patent or a patent provisional....otherwise it will be considered prior art and too bad for you....

I have 2 patents under my belt already.

Sometimes a patent is not worth it - even for the best ideas in the world!
Link Posted: 1/28/2006 6:30:26 AM EDT

Originally Posted By DanM:
I have three.
No idea what it cost, or what the financial benefit is/was.
The company I work for owns all my Intellectual Property.
Even if I think it up sitting on the throne at home.
They give me $ every once in a while for them. And I
pretend to be gratefull.
DanM




If it is not similar to what you normally do for work and you are not using their time and resources, then why the hell do YOU think they have the rights to your intellectual property?
Link Posted: 1/28/2006 6:32:20 AM EDT
I had an idea once - I filed a patent provisional and shopped it around. I ended up transferring the rights to a company and then they paid the tab for everything else, giving me a commission on units. My patent atty said it was a pretty damn good deal for me....
Link Posted: 1/28/2006 6:33:15 AM EDT
www.freepatentsonline.com - search engine
Link Posted: 1/28/2006 6:35:39 AM EDT
I entertained the idea of taking the patent bar exam instead of doing law school first....I checked into law school and interviewed with SMU, but found most lawyers don't make shit so I stopped that!
Link Posted: 1/28/2006 7:19:42 AM EDT
I'm also aware of cases where a big company infringed on a patent. They offered to buy a smaller company's patent, negotiations fell thru, so the big company said screw it, we are going to build the product, improve upon it and do a better job of marketing it. The patent holder sued until they were bankrupted by their attorneys and the big company buried them. If you can't defend it, then what good is it?
Link Posted: 1/28/2006 7:33:46 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/28/2006 7:35:10 AM EDT by dancin8]
I have several patents that I own jointly with a university and a few other researchers. There are two ways to go about things. Patent and licence or keep it a trade secret and confidentiality agreements. The university prefered patents and they have the lawyers to handle it. In our personal company, we tend to go with trade secrets.

The thing to do with patents is to get it as broad and vague as possible, making it more difficult to get around. However, it often makes it more difficult to patent. You need to think of the time of protection as a time where you do atleast two things, 1. Get out there and make as much from the patent as you can and 2. work toward patenting all the ways around your first patent. Also, reagrdless, if you have a good patent you are going to have to sue people. I have a good friend who has a multimillion dollar producing patent which is about to expire. During the course of the patent, he sued over 10 companies for using the patent without licence. He also was sued 2-3 times accusing him of patent infiringement.

If you go the trade secret/disclosure route you can have a bit more control, but if the cat gets out of the bag, you are screwed and it will likely bve going to court.

The advice about not disclosing it is very good. Once you apply for the patent, you are in a better position, but you need to have your ducks in a row before you talk to anyone other than co-inventors or lawyers.

Edit to add: Even though we had university lawyers, it was a bit of a pain to get everything they wanted. It took us about 18mos (I think) from filing to final approval.
Link Posted: 1/28/2006 7:43:12 AM EDT
My grandfather, Larry Birney, has United States Patent 4793442:



A method and apparatus for providing pre-travel energy to an electrical elevator drive includes a load cell assembly for sensing the actual suspended weight of an elevator car and its passengers and a microprocessor which utilizes logic subroutines to manipulate this load data and data from a distance tachometer and car mounted sensors. The subroutines include an initializing subroutine which determines the empty car weight and balancing torques at the limits of travel, a normalizing subroutine which normalizes this data and determines the actual weight of the car and passengers and a rope compensation subroutine which calculates the torque required to balance the weight of the cables suspended from the elevator car. From the foregoing data, the microprocessor provides a pre-travel electrical signal to the elevator drive which corresponds to the torque level required to maintain the elevator car stationary during the interval between release of the brake and application of drive pattern power.



He was an engineer at Schindler Elevator. If you've ever been in a Schindler elevator (likely), your safety was provided in part by my grandfather.

I really miss him. He died before his time, while on a business trip 10 years ago.
Link Posted: 1/28/2006 8:30:19 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Skibane:
That's pretty much the standard response I'd expect from someone who had "been working in the patent field" - Most used car salesmen defend their choice of career, too...


That's pretty much the standard response I'd expect from a semiliterate syphilitic monkey.

More seriously, if you have an alternative for protecting inventors' rights, please feel free to present it. I asked last week if there were other applicable ways to protect firearms inventions, and I did not receive any responses that seemed to be workable.

"Trade secret" is not applicable to something which can be taken apart and looked at -- it works fine for some fields such as semiconductor fabrication, where the "recipes" and techniques are not obvious, but is useless for basic mechanical inventions such as firearms designs.

"Copyright" applies to photographs, documents, and other literary/artistic works. Again, pretty much useless for devices such as guns.

Or is your argument the usual socialist "to each according to his needs, from each according to his abilities" drivel in which Mikhail Kalashnikov is only entitled to his state pension of fifty rubles per month after a lifetime of service to the gun nuts of the world?
Link Posted: 1/28/2006 8:41:01 AM EDT

Originally Posted By CS223:
So what is a good alternative to a patent? I've heard a copyright can be used in some cases. Patent pending only gives you a year to pull your crap together. How can you protect a design concept and keep someone else from patenting it?


Almost -- a "provisional application" gives you one year to file a full patent application, which then takes however long it gets argued before you get the patent (or give up). "Patent pending" can be marked on your product for all of both periods -- typically around two and a half years.


Originally Posted By mikejohnson:

Originally Posted By DanM:
I have three.
No idea what it cost, or what the financial benefit is/was.
The company I work for owns all my Intellectual Property.
Even if I think it up sitting on the throne at home.
They give me $ every once in a while for them. And I
pretend to be gratefull.
DanM



If it is not similar to what you normally do for work and you are not using their time and resources, then why the hell do YOU think they have the rights to your intellectual property?


The "invention rights" clauses in most employment contracts are written to be ridiculously overbroad and claim rights to anything ever thought up by the person during (or even prior to) employment. You can usually get companies to back down enough to modify the contract to say "only inventions which are pertinent to my job belong to the company". Even if you don't modify the contract, you can usually fight it in court -- the problem is, you might have to fight it in court if your employers are greedy bastards. . . .
Link Posted: 1/28/2006 8:49:36 AM EDT
For one of my personal inventions, my employer emphasized that they "had the rights to it" but since it was not related to the company's products, I did it on my own time and used my own resources, they backed down but also insisted that I get a release note from them just in case (it can protect them from problems down the road too, if they had laid claim to it and someone decided to sue). So I got them to sign it over so there would be no legal problems down the road....the buyer of the rights was happy to have that extra document in hand....
Link Posted: 1/28/2006 8:51:39 AM EDT
My father is a patent examiner, and let me tell you, patents these days are pretty much worthless.

It used to be that you could deny a patent if it was extraordinarily similar to another patent but changed something minor (like, using a certain type of linkage or hinge vs. another type). You technically still can, but the filer's lawyer will make angry noises, and your supervisor will grant the patent anyway.

There are entire corporations dedicated to reverse engineering. Your product, if it stands to make a lot of money, will get reverse-engineered, changed in some very minor fashion, and the copy will also be protected by patent. If they're feeling ballsy enough, they might sue you as well.
Link Posted: 1/28/2006 8:54:31 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/28/2006 8:54:58 AM EDT by mikejohnson]

Originally Posted By MagKnightX:
My father is a patent examiner, and let me tell you, patents these days are pretty much worthless.



+1

www.freepatentsonline.com/crazy.html

pay attention to the cat exerciser....
Link Posted: 1/28/2006 9:18:55 AM EDT

Originally Posted By mikejohnson:

Originally Posted By MagKnightX:
My father is a patent examiner, and let me tell you, patents these days are pretty much worthless.



+1

www.freepatentsonline.com/crazy.html

pay attention to the cat exerciser....


Yeah, I claim that one, I was doing it in 1991, years before they filed.

The point of a patent is not to be useful, it is to protect an inventor's rights. If you pick up some of those gunshow books on "silencer designs", one I bought turned out to be filled with unworkable ideas from people who had clearly been wearing too little tinfoil. The author took great glee in pointing out obviously insane -- yet patented -- "silencers" which would clearly not work.

I remember one in particular, a "shotgun silencer" designed as a sort of trap on the muzzle, which was somehow supposed to swing open just as the shot reached it, and then clamp shut the instant the wad went past. The author pointed out that this would trap all the gases inside the barrel, resulting in "very positive ejection" of the empty shell casing. This patent was from a long time ago, maybe the 1920s or thenabouts, I think.

But the rights of the guy who went through the patent process would be protected if it turned out to be useful somehow -- which is really the whole point, protecting innovators from having their work stolen at whim.

And it makes money for the U.S. government. The USPTO pays its own way and then some -- it is a profit center, because everyone wants to patent their stuff in the U.S., the world's largest consumer market.
Link Posted: 1/28/2006 9:54:53 AM EDT

Originally Posted By mikejohnson:

Originally Posted By DanM:
I have three.
No idea what it cost, or what the financial benefit is/was.
The company I work for owns all my Intellectual Property.
Even if I think it up sitting on the throne at home.
They give me $ every once in a while for them. And I
pretend to be gratefull.
DanM




If it is not similar to what you normally do for work and you are not using their time and resources, then why the hell do YOU think they have the rights to your intellectual property?



That would be because I sign a document yearly agreeing to just that.
It is a condition of employment.
DanM
Link Posted: 1/28/2006 10:51:16 PM EDT

Originally Posted By 71-Hour_Achmed:
if you have an alternative for protecting inventors' rights, please feel free to present it.



My pleasure:

1. Accept the fact that unless you have an idea that will net you millions of dollars after all the other expenses are paid, you probably can't afford the legal costs of defending it against just one determined patent infringer - let alone half a dozen.

2. Concentrate instead on developing new, improved versions of your original idea, on a regular basis. This puts your imitators at a constant disadvantage: Just as they are introducing copies of the product you have been selling for several years, you are introducing a new, improved version that works better and costs less.

BOTTOM LINE: It isn't the invention of new technology that generates revenue over the long haul, but rather the constant refinement of that technology, at a rate that outpaces your competitors.
Link Posted: 1/28/2006 11:09:29 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Skibane:

Originally Posted By 71-Hour_Achmed:
if you have an alternative for protecting inventors' rights, please feel free to present it.



My pleasure:

1. Accept the fact that unless you have an idea that will net you millions of dollars after all the other expenses are paid, you probably can't afford the legal costs of defending it against just one determined patent infringer - let alone half a dozen.

2. Concentrate instead on developing new, improved versions of your original idea, on a regular basis. This puts your imitators at a constant disadvantage: Just as they are introducing copies of the product you have been selling for several years, you are introducing a new, improved version that works better and costs less.

BOTTOM LINE: It isn't the invention of new technology that generates revenue over the long haul, but rather the constant refinement of that technology, at a rate that outpaces your competitors.



This has been my experience. For small market products just do it. If there is little money in it you will saturate the market before anyone can copy you.
Link Posted: 1/28/2006 11:40:54 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Skibane:

Originally Posted By 71-Hour_Achmed:
if you have an alternative for protecting inventors' rights, please feel free to present it.



My pleasure:

1. Accept the fact that unless you have an idea that will net you millions of dollars after all the other expenses are paid, you probably can't afford the legal costs of defending it against just one determined patent infringer - let alone half a dozen.

2. Concentrate instead on developing new, improved versions of your original idea, on a regular basis. This puts your imitators at a constant disadvantage: Just as they are introducing copies of the product you have been selling for several years, you are introducing a new, improved version that works better and costs less.

BOTTOM LINE: It isn't the invention of new technology that generates revenue over the long haul, but rather the constant refinement of that technology, at a rate that outpaces your competitors.


That doesn't protect anyone's rights to what they've already created, it just turns into a race to the bottom. "Oh, Skibane has come out with a new, improved widget? Eh, Planerench is copying last year's for half the price, and it'll do just as well for our purposes. Let's buy the cheap one instead.."

I see that every single day, day in and day out, in Taiwan. Just down the road from me, some guy saw a market need and opened a sausage stand (the "pork products" kind, not the other sort) and within a few weeks, there were three more right next to him. It's the national pastime -- duplicate what the guy next to you is doing, then cut your price and quality, and drive both of you out of business.
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