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oldtiffie
07-07-2007, 04:27 AM
Deleted/erased-out

A.K. Boomer
07-07-2007, 10:50 AM
I got about half way through it and as usual there are about 1,000 different opinions if 1,000 people are asked, still lots of good stuff but it just goes to show you how vague the entire process can be --- like anything the more you know about it the less overwhelming it is, thats why im so overwhelmed by it all though:p

If the time ever comes I dont know if I will take this one on or just try to buddy of with someone who will want to work on a commission basis, I think thats the way it should be, maybe the first thing patent lawyers should have to do is sign a disclaimer, Then like many other claim settlement lawyers they should deside if its worth it for them to "take the case" --- if its a go then you know that you would get the best possible effort with both your and thier interests being the same goal, perhaps it should be a financial partnership with everything right from the start, I know you would get raped in the process but at least youd get a little kiss now and then...

Anyways, thanks for the site Tiff.

A.K. Boomer
07-07-2007, 12:08 PM
Now that were on the subject, What good is a disclaimer? I mean --- If somebody had a really bombproof great Idea whats to stop anybody else involved from calling a friend on the other side of the country and spilling all the beans in detail? then they split the difference when all the smoke settles, Its such a sketchy thing to get into, It really is the one area that I dread even thinking about, For the most part I will continue to create just for the sake of creating, its in me, it has to come out, that will always overide any other desire, but it would be nice to have a more solid avenue to pursue after the fact --- if not just for more security and freedom to keep on doing what im doing...

I also have to admit that in some cases I dont want decades of R&D being just tossed out a window, I want credit for it, it doesnt even always have to equate to the dollar either, I put in a ton of trench time to be where im at and be doing what im doing, Im not about to just let somebody jump in without making sure I get my name stamped on it first, Most of the stuff iv come up with is really cool and ingenius and yes im proud of it, but its been a simple answer to a problem (mostly to do with mountain bikes) --- example, 20 years ago I came up with a seat post pump, because your seat post and seat is attached to your bike by means of a quick release anyways (on higher end bikes) why not use the dead end seat tube inside your seat post as a pump, it weighs next to nothing (very critical for us racers) and your aready carying it around anyways (very practical) it has its own perfect mounting bracket (the quick release) and will never fall off on to the trail, you get a flat, take your seat off within a second and place the seat end on the ground, thier is a hose that tucks into your seat and or seat bag, all that is needed is a littel flip handle and push rod in the end that stays in your bike frame (nuther bonus --- keeps the only lubricated parts of the pump out of the dirt and inside the frame when not in use) ----------- My inventions have to work good, they "usually" have to be practical, they have to have allot going for them in just about every catagory, I share this with you guys because I ran around the state of colo. 20 years ago with this device, after a couple years i seen it in a magazine, I have no idea if I thought about it first because to me its a "trinket", It took me about a minute of thinking to come up with it and find all the benifits and really no drawbacks, over the years I thought of many "trinkets" like this and built them and use them,,, yes I guess an idea like this could make somebody rich and if it came easy thats all good, but im not interested in attaching my name to a "trinket" as far as me being "proud" to call it mine --- I know how long it took to think about it and yeah its cool but its also inevitable,

My bike cranks are an entirely different story, I have decades of R&D, there maybe 6.5 billion plus on the planet but I can pretty much reassure you that nobody has gone where i have gone,
Most of my entire family is very mechanically inclined and some of my older bro's have been master mechanics for many decades yet it took them months of me explaining to them and showing them diagrams for them to be able to "grasp the concept"
My cranks are an absolute marval -- and although a little complex their really are no "practicality" limits if you are producing more power on a bicycle, When it comes bicycle racing anyways, there are people dropping an extra 3,000 dollars to have a frame thats just a couple ounces lighter so as far as the word "practical" It will imediatly take a back seat to the end result, in this arena performance will overule both practicality and simplicity, I guarantee you that if you had way of produceing just 5% more power output that racers would gladly drop over 5,000 on a set of cranks -- it really wouldnt take a "huge market", People can have all the "trinkets" I come up with, but I get very passionate about my cranks, way to much time invested, way to much thinking --- The day will come when I have to trust someone, Im dreading that part of the proceedure...

IOWOLF
07-07-2007, 02:58 PM
ROTFLMAO!

Taking a phrase from another thread.

lazlo
07-08-2007, 11:06 AM
I have a bunch of patents as part of my day job, but the process is really involved and convoluted. I would probably never pursue a patent if I didn't have a large corporate legal team to support me.

Once you do get a patent, it doesn't really mean a lot until it's "tested" in court. The boneheads at the PTO only do the most superficial search of prior art, so there are scads of meaningless patents that are issued.

Unless you're willing to pursue potential infringers in court, the time and money spent getting a patent may not be worth it.

A.K. Boomer
07-08-2007, 11:58 AM
I remember you commenting on this subject before Lazlo, There is a doctor in my little town who builds devises to be used on the end of scopes, I think its called a provisional patent? anyways -- its a fraction of the cost and he either upgrades it every year or lets it fall to the wayside if it doesnt show any promise, How do you feel about something like that? is it kinda just putting your idea out there for all to see without any protection?

Sometimes I think about hooking up with a girl thats a patent attorney, then it makes you think of how bad things could really go if the relationship went south, nope, think I'll keep all of my eggs out of one basket!

Evan
07-08-2007, 12:04 PM
The patent system in the US has become so perverted from the original intent that it is essentially useless. It's part of the problem in trade with other countries as the US allows patent protection to be granted for things that are unpatentable elsewhere such as "look and feel", biological organisms, business practices, computer programs and algorithms and other such nonsense.

Swarf&Sparks
07-08-2007, 12:07 PM
What can I say about a nation that issues patents for human genes?
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2005/10/1013_051013_gene_patent.html

lazlo
07-08-2007, 12:22 PM
The problem I see, for the little guy, is that for any kind of a patent, you have to be willing to bring the infringer to court to determine the validity of the patent, which is really expensive.

So here's two examples in one of how the system, in my opinion, is broken: there's a guy on Ebay selling a "powerfeed" attachment for the Bridgeport knee. It's an adapter for an electric drill. Now, we've all seen that attachment posted for eons here and on PM, so depending on his specific claims, there's a good chance that the drill adapter is prior art that's been in the public domain for a long time.

He indicates in the auction text that he has a patent pending, and it's very possible (likely, even) that the PTO will issue the patent.

So if you were to make and sell such a device, you could be infringing on his patent. But he would have to take you to court and prove to the judge or jury that your device infringes on his claims. Then, you could show that there were similar devices posted publicly, long before his patent submission, and his patent would be in jeopardy.

Now, I'm not a lawyer (although I happen to know that there are several members here who are ;) ), so my opinion isn't worth the paper it's printed on, but your bicycle crank sounds like it could be worth a lot of money. If you own a small business selling parts like this, I would think it would be worth a consultation with a good patent attorney, to see if it's worth pursuing.

If you have the potential of selling a high dollar value of these cranks, then it probably would be worth pursuing infringers in court.

There's another angle on good patents from small businesses: in a lot of cases you can sell, or license the patent to a bigger company. So you can make money off the patent without having to go to court. In other words, you file your patent, then approach Shimano, Race Face, etc and offer to license the patent.

A.K. Boomer
07-08-2007, 12:46 PM
The problem I see, for the little guy, is that for any kind of a patent, you have to be willing to bring the infringer to court to determine the validity of the patent, which is really expensive.

So here's two examples in one of how the system, in my opinion, is broken: there's a guy on Ebay selling a "powerfeed" attachment for the Bridgeport knee. It's an adapter for an electric drill. Now, we've all seen that attachment posted for eons here and on PM, so depending on his specific claims, there's a good chance that the drill adapter is prior art that's been in the public domain for a long time.

He indicates in the auction text that he has a patent pending, and it's very possible (likely, even) that the PTO will issue the patent.

So if you were to make and sell such a device, you could be infringing on his patent. But he would have to take you to court and prove to the judge or jury that your device infringes on his claims. Then, you could show that there were similar devices posted publicly, long before his patent submission, and his patent would be in jeopardy.

Now, I'm not a lawyer (although I happen to know that there are several members here who are ;) ), so my opinion isn't worth the paper it's printed on, but your bicycle crank sounds like it could be worth a lot of money. If you own a small business selling parts like this, I would think it would be worth a consultation with a good patent attorney, to see if it's worth pursuing.

If you have the potential of selling a high dollar value of these cranks, then it probably would be worth pursuing infringers in court.

There's another angle on good patents from small businesses: in a lot of cases you can sell, or license the patent to a bigger company. So you can make money off the patent without having to go to court. In other words, you file your patent, then approach Shimano, Race Face, etc and offer to license the patent.


You make allot of sense Lazlo, Your last statement in all of this is actually more like it would have to go for me, All my spare funds (which isnt much) go to just refining what iv already created, I would get imediatly swallowed by the cracks,,, In many ways even if the percentage is very small it would be worth it to just drop in somebodies lap, for perhaps some royalties and a little down, and credit for building it, in some way shape or form -- for some reason thats important to me, Iv been checking out shimano's and everybody elses stuff for decades on the US patent site and some of the stuff is things I did within my first year of tinkering with power output, The majority is stuff any of us would think about for less than a minute and know why it wouldnt work --- yet its out there and has a patent on it!

lazlo
07-08-2007, 12:55 PM
If you do go to another company with your idea AK, I would strongly advise bringing an attorney with you to document the visit.
It wouldn't be the first time that a bigger company tells the little guy "Sorry, we're not interested" and then shows up 6 months later with the same idea.

Most companies are probably not like that, but like every other part of life, there are some bad apples...

wmgeorge
07-08-2007, 02:28 PM
Been down this road. Go to the USPO Link>

http://www.uspto.gov/main/patents.htm

and look up Provisional Patent. While you are there learn how to do the Online patent search, and spend a few days looking to see if "Your Idea" has already been done. You will need to download a "special" viewer to see the Images. Bet you will find some that are very close to "Your Idea"

Then acquire two books the first one is more important than the other. Both together are required reading. I have had two Provisional Patents, and one idea went to test market stage. Both books can be purchased at Amazon.com.

#1. "Will it Sell? How to Determine If Your Invention Is Profitably Marketable" by James E. White

#2. Patent It Yourself" by Patent attorney David Pressman.

Then after (IF) you do get a US Patent, you need to do the same for the overseas market. Plan on maybe $100,000 for the whole works, and then the renewal fees.


I will amen Evans comments...









The patent system in the US has become so perverted from the original intent that it is essentially useless. It's part of the problem in trade with other countries as the US allows patent protection to be granted for things that are unpatentable elsewhere such as "look and feel", biological organisms, business practices, computer programs and algorithms and other such nonsense.

HTRN
07-08-2007, 09:24 PM
It wouldn't be the first time that a bigger company tells the little guy "Sorry, we're not interested" and then shows up 6 months later with the same idea..
It's disturbingly common - a former employer had that happen with Brownells for a tool design.


HTRN

A.K. Boomer
07-08-2007, 11:13 PM
You will need to download a "special" viewer to see the Images. Bet you will find some that are very close to "Your Idea"

...



Thanks George, Iv had "innoview" for the past decade, iv ran dozens of searches over the years, and looked at everything from 1976 on,,, I no longer go that far back as iv covered it very well, but I know the last patent #'s that i checked and pick up at that point to current and then repeat after another time lapse and so on and so forth, Im always bracing myself if i let a big time lapse go and then do a search, so far nobody is thinking along the lines that I am but im also convinced that everything is eventually discovered, its just a matter of time, From what iv seen 95% of all alternative bike crank designs are hell bent in one area, the TDC/BDC dead spots, this is where for the most part mine differ...

A question to both You and Lazlo, If your armed with a provisional is that enough to aproach a large company with? or do they just take your idea and change it mechanically by about 3% and then legally call it thier own:(


For the record, A picture is indeed worth a thousand words esp. in this catagory, but their is one guy, i believe he's from denmark, His cranks actually get more complicated with the pics, I never have deciphered exactly what he's trying to acomplish, (but that could be a good thing) I really think that this person maybe insane, You fella's would not believe the amount of crazy ass machining involved either --- they are out of this world, I just grabbed his pictures from the basement because iv copied the most foolish , most complicated and everything else inbetween, His name is Lawaetz Veilberg although I dont know if thats last name first or what, he's from herskind denmark, the pat. # is 6,145,408, the date of patent is Nov. 14 2000,,,, the amount of pitures of just his apparatus cover a good portion of a little wall downstairs, I you have the time and want to totally freek your brain out go check out his lyrical spherical diabolical machine, I believe that this man may have some issue's, happens to the best of us (I outta know)

Evan
07-09-2007, 02:25 AM
There's another angle on good patents from small businesses: in a lot of cases you can sell, or license the patent to a bigger company. So you can make money off the patent without having to go to court. In other words, you file your patent, then approach Shimano, Race Face, etc and offer to license the patent.
That generally isn't a viable approach. Many if not most companies with an R+D department don't want to talk to you or see anything you may have invented. The chances are they are working on something similar if what you have is relevant to their business and they don't want the scenario of appearing to have "stolen" your invention. When I worked for Xerox we were instructed to immediately terminate any conversation in which someone was offering to reveal an idea that pertained to Xerox products. Xerox made it clear that they did not accept outside submissions of ideas.

The way small business patents get picked up is for you to be already marketing the device and it catches the attention of somebody.

oldtiffie
07-09-2007, 07:07 AM
Deleted/erased-out

Evan
07-09-2007, 09:41 AM
Tiffie,

The subject of copyright is one in which I have a fair amount of training and interest. It is naturally a significant issue for the company that invented the modern photocopier and where I worked for 23 years.

House plans or any other design or work committed to paper or other media are covered by copyright. The design itself is not. Copyright covers only the physical depiction of an idea, application or design as produced in the single instance by the maker of the depiction, not the idea, application or design itself and provides no protection whatever for the idea, concept or implementation of same.

Copyright law is quite well standardised worldwide as most countries are signatories to the Berne Convention. Some differences exist locally but mainly deal with terms and Fair Use policies, which do not exist in most countries, including not in Australia.

In the specific case of house plans the copyright is vested in the person who produces the plans. That may not be the draftsman if he is commissioned to produce the plans under hire. Stock plans are not so commissioned and so copyright does not transfer to the purchaser. Custom drawings may or may not depending on the particular business arrangement between draftsman and client. In the case of an employee making drawings the copyright vests in the employer, not the employee.

A drawing of an invention is copyright but the invention is not. The appearance of an invention may be protected in the US and Canada by a Design patent. That protects the specific appearance only, not the idea, concept or unique implementation of principle in the invention.


In fact legally, if you want to alter or extend that house you should/have to get the approval of the original designer/draftsman, Engineer etc. It is called "something ("residual/enduring"??) right" - I forget the exact term - and this permission can be refused. It has hardly, if ever, been used or exercised, but that right remains.

Copyright does not extend beyond the specific depiction as produced by the originator of the depiction. In the case of plans the plans are copyright but not the house built from them. This is a basic concept of copyright law and is integral to the concept of copyright as expressed in the Berne Convention. Signatories to the convention are not free to change or modify these concepts.

Uniqueness is not a test of validity of copyright. My drawing of my house plans that I provide the draftsman to work from are under my copyright by virtue of the fact that I created them, not copied them.

You may in fact produce a literary work, music or other work that is subject to copyright that is virtually identical to another's work and if it can be shown that you did not copy the other work then both are covered by independent copyright. This is an approach used to design software that is likely to infringe on existing software. A team is selected that has no knowledge of the existing software and is given specifications to work to without reference to any existing competing product that it may infringe. This is known as the "Clean Room" approach.

There is much more to the subject but the seminal difference is that copyright protects the singular specific expression of an idea but not the idea, patent protects the idea but not the expression.

A.K. Boomer
07-09-2007, 11:14 AM
OK, There is one other senerio that can play out with what im doing so let me throw this into the mix, This winter im building a better dynamometer, one that will be much more accurate than the one im currently using, Say I do positivly prove it to myself that im making over 5% --- yes that would be huge (seeing as the average over 2,000 mile tour de france could be won with less than a 1% gain) but lets just say it happened, So you guys humor me for a second --- please, if you will, and forget the nay-saying, just say somebody pulled this one out of thier ass, To me this could present a very unique situation, I mean after all this is not just another way of opening up a beer bottle (not that thats not an important thing)
So what would be the aproach? How about absolutly nothing --- how about just me hitting the race circuit again and looking for some wild eyed kid who is running very close to the pro's times or perhaps a pro himself that needs an extra push, So I put everything into making this guy fast --- I used the tour de france as an example just in the fact that the longer the race the more a little edge in performance makes but its way to much of a "purist race" to ever allow a radical new crank design so thats a pipe dream from the start, however, there are many other races that alternatives are legal, as long as there is no other method of propulsion, cycling is about as competitive as things get, and the human body can only put out so much, even in a 2 hour local race years ago the times directly mimmick performance levels as I may have won for my age group but came in 3rd overall, the results were me who was in the sports class at 2:00:15 getting beat by an expert at 1:58 and some change who got beat by a pro at 1:56 and some change who was the overall winner, So what place would I have come in with just a measly 2% more HP? a slightly higher altitude on the podium...

So what if some kid starts dominating many of the races in the states with some kind of new crank design? Do I even need protection, is it not obvious that im the one who built it? if any imposters come out afterwards will that not open the past doors of proof of all the race documentation coupled with my log books of material reciepts and proceedures from when I took the first cut on the material to the last, Would you try to build something that someone else has already been using to win races with?

Its such a bunch of crap to begin with maybe I should take that aproach, just do it --- then wait for someone else to make the error of copying my design --- then hire the best lawyer I can find and sue the crap out of them, What a way to go, what a bunch of crap... everytime I start thinking about it it gets more and more frustrating esp. when you here Evan talk about it, which im glad he's honest about it and gives it to me straight, Id rather here that than someone candy coating this one, I bounce this stuff off of you guys because many of you have been down this road, this is one area that I hate to think about, this is where I really believe that no matter what I come up with it really doesnt matter in the long run --- it will be swallowed by the cracks, all I can say is im having fun and challenging myself in the process and Id be doing it anyways... shure would be nice to have "O little pot O gold at the end of the rainbow"

lazlo
07-09-2007, 12:09 PM
That generally isn't a viable approach. Many if not most companies with an R+D department don't want to talk to you or see anything you may have invented.

As you know, I work for one of the big three microprocessor companies. Several times a month the corporate legal team asks me to review an unsolicited patent that was presented to our legal department.

I also have to review, at least once a month, a bottom-feeder soliciting patent infringements. These are usually independent lawyers who buy the carcasses of startup companies that generated a patent portfolio, and then folded. The lawyer will then blanket all the big corporations with infringement letters, hoping that someone will bite, and pay him to go away.

lazlo
07-09-2007, 12:17 PM
Say I do positivly prove it to myself that im making over 5%

how about just me hitting the race circuit again and looking for some wild eyed kid who is running very close to the pro's times or perhaps a pro himself that needs an extra push,

One thing you should be aware of AK: in the US, there's a bar date for filing a patent application. You have to file within one year of first public disclosure of the invention, or the invention becomes prior art.

The US is unique in the one-year grace period. In most foreign countries, the bar date is the actual day on which first public disclosure occurs.
"Public Disclosure" has several legal definitions, but one of them is "Placed in public use in the United States"

So if you put your invention into use in the Tour De France, you've already lost your chance to file for a patent in France, and you have one year to file it in the US.

Note that's just the filing date: you can file a crappy patent application by the bar date and clean it up afterwards. In fact, PTO will typically not start reading it for at least 3 - 6 months after you file...

lazlo
07-09-2007, 01:07 PM
A question to both You and Lazlo, If your armed with a provisional is that enough to aproach a large company with? or do they just take your idea and change it mechanically by about 3% and then legally call it thier own:(

You just need a patent pending, or a provisional, to protect you. As long as your idea is on public record. If they tell you "no thanks" and show up with the same idea 6 months later, then you have an official government record, and you're covered. In fact, you're probably going to make out if they do steal the Intellectual Property, because you can hit them on royalties and fines for all the items already sold.

Where you hear the horror stories, like the various Microsoft patent debacles, is when you go to a big company with a great idea, but you haven't filed any (traceable) paperwork on it.

Mad Scientist
07-09-2007, 01:19 PM
Let me give my two cents worth on patents. It makes for a pretty document to hang on the wall that might impress a few people. As such they are worth at least two cents beyond that they are basically worthless.

To start with if you have developed a new super widget from the time you start with the patent searches to the time you actually have a patent to hang on the wall this can take 6 to 8 years. During this time you are sitting on your fantastic invention and it is not making you any money. However during this same time the patenting process can be costing you thousands of dollars.

Eventually with a little luck, assuming that you truly have a total new idea, you will be awarded a patent. At this point you will presume that it safe to try to sell or manufacture you new widget. But is it?

So finally after all this time and expense you start manufacturing and selling your widgets only to find a less then scrupulous competitor has copied your design and is also selling it, now what do you do? You call your lawyer and tell him the ABC manufacturing company has stolen your design. Where upon he will sit down at his computer go to his nasty letter files and send this company a letter telling them to stop manufacturing your widget and of course he then writes you a invoice for his time.

But what if they don’t stop? Well more calls to your lawyer, producing more and increasingly nasty letters, and of course more invoices for you to pay. But with the increasing threat of impending law suits the ABC manufacturing company finally closes is doors and goes out business. It cost you a bunch in lawyer’s fees but at least you’re happy with the knowledge that your patent has protected your design.

However meanwhile on the other side of town the XYZ manufacturing company has just opened its doors and just by chance they happen to have all of the ABC companies tooling and guess what they are making?

So in my opinion the way to handle a new super idea is to first do a patent search to see if is truly a new idea. If so then design it in the most cost efficient way for manufacturing and start building and selling it. Of course at this point anyone who wishes to copy it is free to do so. But while someone maybe thinking about coping it and how to get their manufacturing up and running, you are out actually selling and making money. Ideally during this time you want to strive for name recognition, so that when people think about your product it is like when someone asks for some “Scotch tape”.

Weston Bye
07-09-2007, 02:01 PM
... if you have developed a new super widget from the time you start with the patent searches to the time you actually have a patent to hang on the wall this can take 6 to 8 years. ...

...only to find a less then scrupulous competitor has copied your design and is also selling it, now what do you do? You call your lawyer and tell him the ABC manufacturing company has stolen your design. Where upon he will sit down at his computer go to his nasty letter files and send this company a letter telling them to stop manufacturing your widget and of course he then writes you a invoice for his time.
.

My patent took just over a year from concept to award. I thought it was a weak patent at the time, and even supplied the lawyer all the "prior art" I could find. In spite of the evidence, the patent was awarded.

Where I work, we found an Asian knockoff for the aftermarket of one of our products started showing up. We had neglected to put our patent numbers on our product, so the best we could get was a "cease and desist" order. Stopped them, though.

wmgeorge
07-09-2007, 02:13 PM
Mad Scientist in his post said it all... you can get a real patent, but it may cost you thousands to defend it, in additions to the thousands to get it. File a Provisional and start making and selling the darn things. Read that first book I recommended. BG






A question to both You and Lazlo, If your armed with a provisional is that enough to aproach a large company grabbed his pictures from the basement because iv copied the most foolish , most complicated and everything else inbetween, go check out his lyrical spherical diabolical machine, I believe that this man may have some issue's, happens to the best of us (I outta know)

lazlo
07-09-2007, 03:23 PM
My patent took just over a year from concept to award.

So you're saying that it took less than a year from the submission date to be awarded a patent??!

I've got a pretty sizable patent portfolio, and the quickest I've ever gotten a patent is 4 years from the date of application.
You're usually lucky to get patent pending (which just means they opened the application) in less than a year.

I've got 2 patents that have been in process for 8 and 8 1/2 years, respectively, which is not unusual.

Joel
07-09-2007, 03:49 PM
That is amazingly fast Wes. Mine took about 2 1/2 years - that was with one office action/amendment.

Evan
07-09-2007, 04:49 PM
The days of opportunity for the solitary inventor are pretty much gone. The sort of things that can be invented working alone have been mostly already invented. Modern inventions are almost entirely the work of teams of people working at the corporate or government R+D level with massive resources available. You can count the number of modern day independent inventors who have become rich on the fingers of one hand of a double amputee. Very few such inventions ever become popular marketable products unless the inventor forms his own company and markets the product himself. Even then it's long odds against success.

Weston Bye
07-09-2007, 04:59 PM
That is amazingly fast Wes. Mine took about 2 1/2 years - that was with one office action/amendment.

Application filed 5-5-2003, Patent awarded 3-16-2004

lazlo
07-09-2007, 05:06 PM
Application filed 5-5-2003, Patent awarded 3-16-2004

That's amazing Wes! Your corporate lawyers at Pontiac Coil must have had a friend at the PTO! :)

Weston Bye
07-09-2007, 06:09 PM
That's amazing Wes! Your corporate lawyers at Pontiac Coil must have had a friend at the PTO! :)

I don't know. more recently, I had one rejected.

john hobdeclipe
07-09-2007, 10:53 PM
A few years ago I dreamed up a simple device that would help things along in the woodworking/millwork shop. I spent maybe a hundred dollars or so on a couple prototypes, tried it out, and thought it would be worth pursuing. So I scheduled an appointment with an advisor from a small business development department connected with the local university, just to get some input on how to proceed.

An initial patent search indicated that I had a novel, unusual and patentable item. But after long, realistic discussion about the process, I decided not to continue with it. The main thing I had to remember was that, if everything went smoothly I could expect to pay $8,000 to $10,000 for all the expenses involved in obtaining the patent. Then I would have to sell how many to recoup that investment alone? In my case, I had to face the fact that there probably would never be enough demand for this specialized tool to make it pay off.

And so the thing to keep in mind is this: Will you really sell enough of your widgets to recoup all of the cost of the patent process and the almost inevitable litigation that follows? Or will you just have an impressive piece of paper hanging in your room in the poorhouse.


I used the tour de france as an example just in the fact that the longer the race the more a little edge in performance makes but its way to much of a "purist race" to ever allow a radical new crank design so thats a pipe dream from the start, however, there are many other races that alternatives are legal

Not exactly true. The Tour De France, like all other races on the professional calendar, is run under UCI rules, including those that define the dimensions and limitations of the bicycles permitted. Last time I looked at those rules (it's been several years) there was no prohibition against variable-length cranks.

Weston Bye
07-09-2007, 11:08 PM
As John Hobdeclipe relates, the cost for a patent can run in the $8K - $10K range. I have had patentable ideas that were not pursued because of the low potential for commercialization.

Evan
07-10-2007, 01:31 AM
An initial patent search indicated that I had a novel, unusual and patentable item.

That isn't hard to believe. Just about anything can be patented in the US regardless of novelty or uniqueness, never mind such trivial matters such as prior art or common knowledge.

I guess it's time to trot out this one again.


United States Patent 6,368,227 Olson April 9, 2002 Method of swinging on a swing

Abstract A method of swing on a swing is disclosed, in which a user positioned on a standard swing suspended by two chains from a substantially horizontal tree branch induces side to side motion by pulling alternately on one chain and then the other.
Inventors: Olson; Steven (St. Paul, MN) Appl. No.: 09/715,198 Filed: November 17, 2000

http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PALL&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsrchnum.htm&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=6368227.PN.&OS=PN/6368227&RS=PN/6368227

Mad Scientist
07-10-2007, 01:54 AM
And so the thing to keep in mind is this: Will you really sell enough of your widgets to recoup all of the cost of the patent process and the almost inevitable litigation that follows? Or will you just have an impressive piece of paper hanging in your room in the poorhouse.

I believe your comment is right on and this rather long story illustrates it.


This is an experience that my father had. He was a mechanical engineer, grew up during the early 1900’s, and eventually owned a small machine shop. During that time he designed a number of different machine tools, some of which he patented. He was also interested in cars and anything automotive and in the early 1950’s came up with an idea for a better carburetor. He then designed and built a prototype. Nooo, it did not get a 100-MPG, but it would give an “honest” 15–20% improvement. Without going into a long description, it worked similar to a modern computer controlled engine by providing a continually variable air/fuel mixture over the entire speed of the engine, but it was all done mechanically

So in accordance with his background and the “prevailing attitude” of the time he applied for a patent. I still have all his correspondence between him and his golfing buddy who was a patent attorney. From the every fist letter it is obvious that he was happier then a pig in a mud puddle, he had something that really worked and he knew that it worked and was excited about getting it into the market. Thus began the patenting process.

First because this was a carburetor, there were already a gazillion carburetor patents already out there. His attorney started the patent search rejecting the ones that were obviously not even close, this left him with a 1” tall stack to read over and evaluate. Days turned into weeks but they determined that were no similar devices. Then the patent applications was written up and drawings made. By the way you will notice that patent drawings have their own unique “style”. A standard engineering drawing will not work. Thus they need to be drawn by someone familiar with that style and knows want is required.

Eventually the application was mailed, at this point it was a matter of sit back and wait for government bureaucrats to get to it and review it. Eventually he gets a response back, some claims are rejected and there are some questions on others. He write answers to the questions, present arguments for rejected claims and resubmits and waits. Still more question asked, some claims still rejected. Write more answers, presents different arguments resubmit and wait. Months turn into years but finally a patent is issued! :D

In the meantime my father had been working on design changes and making improvements that of course would also want to be patented. Which means the whole process starts all over. :eek:

It is now in the late 50’s and even though the latest design is not patented, it is applied for, plus they at last have the patent for the first design so it was decided that enough time has been wasted and it is now time to try to sell the idea.

But who can you sell a automotive carburetor too? Is it not going to have to be an automotive company? At that time there was GM, Ford, Chrysler. Plus American motors and Studebaker, but both of them were on the last legs and were not interested in taking on anything new.
GM said they do not make carburetors they just buy them from someone else.
Rochester said if a new and better carburetor was needed “their” engineers would be the ones to do it plus they do not buy from outside sources.
Ford said the concept was interesting but fuel injection was “just around the corner” (I guess 20+ years is just around the corner) thus they were not interested.
Chrysler was not interested but I don’t recall their reason.
Stewart-Warner actually evaluated the prototype and confirmed that it preformed as claimed, but because they were phasing out of the automotive market they would not be interested.
That was his last serious attempt to sell it. About a year latter he received the patent for the new design.

So I may opinion not only was it a waste of time and money to get a patent but if Ford had been presented with the idea 10 years earlier they just might have bought it. Plus when you consider the market for this type of device is just a “hand full” of companies the costs of getting a patent just doe’s not make sense.

An alternative way to protect a new idea is to have a lawyer write up a confidentially agreement for a prospective buyer to sign. This agreement would state that you will completely describe in detail your idea and how it works and that they are free to evaluate it in any manner which they chose, then if they decide if it is something that that want, you will then settle on a price. HOWEVER if they are not interested then they are prohibited form using the idea or telling anyone else about it along with suitable monetary incentives to insure their compliance.

Finally neither this nor a patent is going to give you 100% surefire protection for your idea, if someone is determined to steal your idea they will. The only way to be sure that no one will steal your idea is wrap up your drawings and notes then stick them in a corner of the attic and forget that you have them. That way no one will profit from your idea, of course that also includes you. So the bottom line is just “how much” protection do you “really” need? Also do you “really” care if someone else is also making your product so long as you are making a profit form it?

lazlo
07-10-2007, 02:12 AM
That isn't hard to believe. Just about anything can be patented in the US regardless of novelty or uniqueness, never mind such trivial matters such as prior art or common knowledge.

I guess it's time to trot out this one again.

United States Patent 6,368,227 Olson April 9, 2002 Method of swinging on a swing

That patent was canceled a long time ago.

Reexamination Certificate Issued under 35 USC 307,
“As a result of reexamination, it has been determined that:
Claims 1, 2, 3, and 4 are cancelled.”

A.K. Boomer
07-10-2007, 10:23 AM
Not exactly true. The Tour De France, like all other races on the professional calendar, is run under UCI rules, including those that define the dimensions and limitations of the bicycles permitted. Last time I looked at those rules (it's been several years) there was no prohibition against variable-length cranks.



I have to admit that I never even checked into the rules and regs and just assumed, Although my cranks have nothing to do with being extensible I would of thought for sure that something of that nature would imediatly be disqualified, perhaps its how anal the french get with everything else about the race:p

john hobdeclipe
07-10-2007, 10:27 AM
Not exactly true. The Tour De France, like all other races on the professional calendar, is run under UCI rules, including those that define the dimensions and limitations of the bicycles permitted. Last time I looked at those rules (it's been several years) there was no prohibition against variable-length cranks.

I took a look at the up-to-date UCI rules this morning, and a lot has changed over the past few years!

UCI Rules (http://www.uci.ch/modello.asp?1stLevelID=H&level1=0&level2=0&idnews=2676)

Nowadays, technical innovations must be approved before use. (1.3.004.)

And the rider's legs must go in a circular movement. (1.3.010.)

Don't know how much any of this might affect the acceptance of your cranks.

Evan
07-10-2007, 10:39 AM
That patent was canceled a long time ago.
Only because of the extreme adverse publicity it generated. It should never have been granted. There are uncountable others with the same degree of lack of merit that are in force.

[added]

As an example I will point out the Amazon.com "one click shopping" patent. They obtained a patent on the idea of clicking on an icon (once) to buy something. As a result if you don't have a licence from them your shopping cart page must require at least two mouse clicks.

A.K. Boomer
07-10-2007, 11:41 AM
Mad S. that is one hell of a read, I know your Pops probably got his heart broke some but I hope it never crushed his spirit, he sounds like an ingenius man, It reminds me of a fuel injection system that I had to learn shortly after I first started working on cars, Bosch K jetronic was the mechanical equivelent to what your Dads carburator system was, basically - besides an electric fuel pump and an electric shut off solinoid the entire basis of the system was mechanically controlled, the injectors worked under variable pressure and were constant spray, they had "flutter" nossels that would frequency flutter from idle all the way to full throttle and atomize the fuel, it was controlled by an air flow bellows that mechanically moved a very precision slide piston in a hardend bore with slots that it uncovered for more fuel to be delivered to the injectors, it was a mechanics injector system, it really didnt even take a book to work on save for knowing the proper fuel pressure, all it took was a good mechanical understanding and some time --- Some of the best carburators (most efficient and smoothest running) that iv seen were on motorcycles, they are the vacuum operated slide carbs, they were a tough act to follow but it sounds like your Dad may have had a better answer, I know some early english cars had these long before the japaneese but please dont get me started on the old stromburgs, Webers most probably had everybody beat in the typical butterfly type carb department but thier circuitry was immence and they were extremely complex to tune making them very finicky and also susceptible to any kind of dirt...
I would love to see what your Dad did, if even a simple explaination, I have an appreaciation for stuff like that...

Evan, I remember you throwing that swinging one out before and it really is hard to believe, if not for just the fact of how are you going to police that one? Just the same -- Iv seen some crank designs that would make you guys laugh very very hard, I know I do, but then its usually followed by feeling sorry for the guy for being that out of touch and probably losing his life savings over it, I cannot believe what the USPO has let through the doors, it has to be because it is a profit machine, there can be no other excuse for such nonsence...

Many of you guys have been down this road before and your comments and insight are priceless, I do hate to hear of all the trouble many of you have had, not just for the potentual of what i might have to face someday but for all the crap that youv had to go through --- its a mixed bag,
but to be able to still dream with your feet planted firmly on the ground is as important as intelligence coupled to a good sence of humor --- I came across this one on a chineese fortune cookie; "Pure logic is the ruin of the spirit"

Iv been slapped by that one more than id like to admit... Its why you will see me make such an effort at being a fuqe-up some:ptimes

Mad Scientist
07-10-2007, 08:11 PM
Bommer:
Here is how the carburetor that my father designed worked.


Imagine a large single barrel carburetor. In the center of the bore is a pinwheel that will spin as the air flows enters the engine. The center hub of the pinwheel is hollow and there is a provision to allow gas to enter. Around the circumference of this hub were the jets that let the gas into the air stream. The spinning of this hub then produced a centrifugal force on the gas within it, which in turn forced it out the jets.

The faster the engine was run the faster the pinwheel would spin and the greater the centrifugal force the on gas and more of it was squirted out the jets.
He then had a means of bypassing air “around” the pinwheel thus controlling its speed which in turn allowed control of the air-fuel mixture. The air bypass control was operated by a cam connected to the throttle valve.

Unlike today if you did not like the air-fuel ratio at some speed you could reprogram it by “simply” making a new cam.

If anyone is interested and wants more information I dug through my archives and found the patent number that you can look up.
2,823,906

rgsparber
07-11-2007, 01:08 AM
I have a bunch of patents as part of my day job, but the process is really involved and convoluted. I would probably never pursue a patent if I didn't have a large corporate legal team to support me.

Once you do get a patent, it doesn't really mean a lot until it's "tested" in court. The boneheads at the PTO only do the most superficial search of prior art, so there are scads of meaningless patents that are issued.

Unless you're willing to pursue potential infringers in court, the time and money spent getting a patent may not be worth it.
I second this opinion. Now that I'm retired I go the route of Defensive Publishing. By placing my inventions out on the web, they are in the public domain and it is, at least in theory, harder for someone to get a patent on it. I also like "Copyleft". Forget the dream of making a lot of money on your idea. If it is a great idea, people will steal it and you will spend all of your money on a lawyer. If it is a bad idea, no one will steal it but it won't make you any money either....

Evan
07-11-2007, 02:33 AM
By placing my inventions out on the web, they are in the public domain and it is, at least in theory, harder for someone to get a patent on it.

That is how I feel about it. I'm not sure if I have ever come up with a truly unique solution to a problem except once when I was in high school. I realized that the difference between strike voltage and extinguishing voltage of a neon gas discharge could be used as a memory element. I even designed a unit using a rectilinear array in a tank with non-destructive readout based on voltage drop across each element. I didn't pursue it but about a year later a memory manufacturer announced an experimental unit using the exact same principle.

Anything I post on the web I consider to be in the public domain. Everything that relates to projects I do is my own work entirely including design and execution.

I do have an invention or two up my sleeve and now that I am retired I might do some development work on them. One could be of significant medical benefit in third world countries if it works as I expect. Even then I would give it away.

A.K. Boomer
07-11-2007, 09:10 AM
Mad that is very cool, i went and checked it out, although for carburation I think the bernoulli effect is tough to beat I think your Pops was possibly going for better fuel atomization, His design brings up a few questions --- if its strickly centrifugal as the prime mover of the fuel what happens when it loses its prime by either sitting too long or running out of gas, the bernoulli effect is self priming, another thing to consider is he's introduced a moving part into the equation, I wonder what type of bearing one would go with back in them days --- it would have to spin effortlessly and to be able to run in the fuel - keep a set tolerance so as not to "chatter" and last a long long time, His pop in cam designs would change the mix respectivly for different throttle positions but as we all know this is just one of the many measurements for fuel and air ratio as Load and RPM are equaly important, still maybe a handy way of setting up carbs for higher altitude, kinda like the needle adjustment in the slide type carbs, I love browsing the USPO, its so cool to see the attempts, be them "failures" or "successes", its important to rememeber that if someone is persistant they are all successes, its only a failure if you quit and didnt take note of the results, and you really learn nothing from a perfect success because if it turned out exactly like you planned then its obvious that you already knew... (still nice to have the verification once in awhile) Thanks for posting that, At the very least I think your Dad has in some way imortalized himself --- its an era that will never be again and his idea is out there for everybody to still see....

A.K. Boomer
07-11-2007, 09:24 AM
I second this opinion. Now that I'm retired I go the route of Defensive Publishing. By placing my inventions out on the web, they are in the public domain and it is, at least in theory, harder for someone to get a patent on it. I also like "Copyleft". Forget the dream of making a lot of money on your idea. If it is a great idea, people will steal it and you will spend all of your money on a lawyer. If it is a bad idea, no one will steal it but it won't make you any money either....



And what if they do get a patent on it --- and start building it and making lots of money, If youv got some hefty proof does that not open a door to stepping in and then making your claim, hate to be a shyster but if the system is that screwed maybe you can use it to your advantage --- put it out there --- let someone get established with it -- then step in, ------- set it up to where you allow them to survive but get a little moola and royalties in the process ------- Now you also have the ability to potentually hire one of the finest patent attorny's that you can find because one look at the proof and they will take your case on a commission basis - no out of pocket expence, no risk of disclosure cuz you already did, Yes your going to get bent over big time but who cares, its all coming from a percentage of the money that you never would have seen anyways...

IOWOLF
07-11-2007, 10:35 AM
I had found out a long time ago one thing you don't do is not sign any thing when you start work at a new job that has to do with inventions that you invent while your at the job or not it can be called theirs no matter what, wheather it has to do with the job or not. I worked with a guy that got screwed that way.

Evan
07-11-2007, 11:07 AM
let someone get established with it -- then step in, ------- set it up to where you allow them to survive but get a little moola and royalties in the process -------

You can't "steal" something that is in the public domain. Likewise, if you have placed something in the public domain and somebody else is foolish enough to patent a public domain idea that doesn't give you any leverage to take part of their profit. Nor can you obtain a cease and desist order since you put it in the public domain. It simply means that they own a useless patent.

A.K. Boomer
07-12-2007, 11:11 AM
What happend with that guy who invented the intermittent wiper (no his name was not Lucas, that was an old joke against the britts electrical systems)

Anyways, I thought he got a major settlement from chrysler after many many years went by, My memory aint what it used to be so go easy on me...

Swarf&Sparks
07-12-2007, 11:13 AM
The Lucas motto: "Get home before dark."

Lucas denies having invented darkness. But they do still have a claim to "sudden, unexpected darkness."

Lucas -- inventor of the first intermittent wiper.

Lucas -- inventor of the self-dimming headlamp.

The three-position Lucas switch -- DIM, FLICKER and OFF.

The other three switch settings -- SMOKE, SMOLDER and IGNITE.

The original anti-theft devices -- Lucas Electric products.

"I've had a Lucas pacemaker for years and have never experienced any prob...."

If Lucas made guns, wars would not start either.

Did you hear about the Lucas-powered torpedo? It sank.

It's not true that Lucas, in 1947, tried to get Parliament to repeal Ohm's Law. They withdrew their efforts when they met too much resistance.

Did you hear the one about the guy that peeked into a Land Rover and asked the owner, "How can you tell one switch from another at night, since they all look the same?" He replied, "It doesn't matter which one you use, nothing happens anyway!"

Back in the '70s Lucas decided to diversify its product line and began manufacturing vacuum cleaners. It was the only product they offered which didn't suck.

Quality Assurance phoned and advised the Engineering guy that they had trouble with his design shorting out. So he made the wires longer.

Why do the English drink warm beer? Lucas makes refrigerators, too.

Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone. Thomas Edison invented the light bulb. Joseph Lucas invented the short circuit.

Recommended procedure before taking on a repair of Lucas equipment: check the position of the stars, kill a chicken and walk three times sunwise around your car chanting: "Oh mighty Prince of Darkness protect your unworthy servant."

Lucas systems actually uses AC current; it just has a random frequency.

A.K. Boomer
07-12-2007, 11:38 AM
Holy crap, you dont get that many jokes made about you unless youv done many things really really bad, that was good stuff, I remember a bumper sticker on a VW bug when I was a kid, it had a picture of a tombstone that had the initials R.I.P. on it and the name "LUCAS" then underneath the stone it said "father of the intermittent wiper"

Swarf&Sparks
07-12-2007, 11:41 AM
no joke, have a look here :(
http://speedexa7.users.btopenworld.com/index_files/Page1173.htm

A.K. Boomer
07-12-2007, 11:43 AM
I had found out a long time ago one thing you don't do is not sign any thing when you start work at a new job that has to do with inventions that you invent while your at the job or not it can be called theirs no matter what, wheather it has to do with the job or not. I worked with a guy that got screwed that way.


I also wouldnt want to sign anything that states you cant do the same type of work within a certain mile radius for such and such time after you leave the employer --- I would have starved to death years ago on that one.

lazlo
07-12-2007, 11:52 AM
And what if they do get a patent on it --- and start building it and making lots of money.

AK, read the post where I warned you about the 1 year "Bar Date" you have (in the US) between public disclosure and filing for a patent:

http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net/showthread.php?t=24755&page=3

Basically, what's happening is when you publicly disclose intellectual property, including with the CopyLeft that Rick describes, you're making the invention "prior art" -- which is not patentable. So, in theory, no one should be able to patent something that is prior art, but it does happen, which falls back to my first piece of advice earlier in the thread: a patent isn't worth much until it's tested in court.

The legal definition of "Prior Art" is all information that has been made available to the public in any form (i.e., including posting on HSM or PM) before a given date, that is relevant to a patent's claims of originality. If an invention has been described in prior art, a patent filed on that invention is not valid.

An important "litmus test" of prior art is that the publicly disclosed information must be enough to inform the average worker in the field (the patent lawyers call it "a person skilled in the art") of the details falling in the scope of the claim.

So you could advertise that you have a cool new bicycle crank that is X% more efficient, and even show pictures of the crank, as long as you didn't publicly disclose the details of how it worked.

In practice, our patent lawyers don't want to argue about whether enough public information was disclosed to make it prior art, so they make us file a patent within 1 year of a chip's launch, whether or not there's any description of the potential invention.

Mad Scientist
07-12-2007, 04:48 PM
The Lucas motto: "Get home before dark."


A company’s reputation can be one of its most important assets. In Lucas’s case they have found the perfect way to protect their products without the need of a patent. :D

aostling
08-16-2007, 01:07 AM
The Lucas motto: "Get home before dark."



I heard it was German policy to avoid bombing the Lucas plant during WWII.