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  • Not patenting an invention

    Is there a way to make an invention public domain so that others cannot patent it. In other words, can a inventor simply make it free for everyone? If so, how is this best done? Publishing it on the web?

  • #2
    I think publishing on the web would do it. The patent examiners will be looking primarily at prior patent art when considering an application so they might not necessarily know about the web distribution and might issue a patent to an applicant. However, it would be up to the holder of that patent to enforce it against anyone else making and selling the device and when it got into court the patent could be invalidated by showing the idea was not original.

    Cumbersome, but that's the patent business.
    .
    "People will occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of the time they will pick themselves up and carry on" : Winston Churchill

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    • #3
      Originally posted by TGTool
      I think publishing on the web would do it.
      That's correct, although in many cases an infringing patent would be accepted by the PTO (because the PTO does a superficial search), and would require a court challenge to point out the prior art.
      "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did."

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      • #4
        Let me guess. You've come up with a way to destroy the Capitalist form of business? Giving your product away is going to make obtaining raw materials a real b1tch !!
        - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
        Thank you to our families of soldiers, many of whom have given so much more then the rest of us for the Freedom we enjoy.

        It is true, there is nothing free about freedom, don't be so quick to give it away.

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        • #5
          You could patent it yourself, then just not pursue any 'infringements' ?

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          • #6
            Originally posted by KillerMike
            You could patent it yourself, then just not pursue any 'infringements' ?
            Good idea, but it costs between $6 and $10 for a patent filing, depending on how broad/fundamental the patent is, and whether you foreign file.
            "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did."

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            • #7
              $6-$10 what a complete rip off. I was expecting no more then $2.78..
              Precision takes time.

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              • #8
                Patent laws differ from country to country so it is difficult. I've seen things patented in the US for example that we've done for some time here in Oz and occasionally you hear stories of the same thing being patented 2 or 3 times because the patent examiners did not look for prior art closely enough.

                A key point is that you have to defend your patent - that is, if someone copies your idea you have to have the resources to take them to court if you want them to stop or pay you damages.

                To defend against a claim of infringement, you must show that either the principle of what you have built is different (and it seems the differences can be subtle, but we are talking 'principle' rather than the way it physically is) or that the invention existed before the patent existed ('prior art')

                To establish prior art, I don't think it is enough that it just be published (either in printed or electronic form) - it must be in the public domain. To put that another way, it must be accessible to a reasonably competent person looking for that information. For example, showing members of a Yahoo metal working group (a members only group) a new way of making antibiotics would not be good enough. Although it is on the Web, it is not easily available (private forum) and not where an average person would expect to find it (medical information in a metal work site).

                Two common methods exist of establishing prior art. One as suggested is to file an initial patent but don't continue with it. This establishes with the reviewer (the patent office) that the idea does exist. The other is to publish in a widely viewed, relevant journal (one that is recognised as a standard source for information in the field). This can be tricky as they may have a review process so it could take time.

                Remember that making your invention known does not stop someone adding something to it to make it slightly different (that is, improving it) and then patenting it. I once made a device with a key feature being a circular structural element. One of the first thing that at patent attorney asked was did it have to be round? (That is, could someone use an elliptical section, claim it was better and invalidate the company's patent).

                I'm not an expert in this stuff. I've just spent a bit of time with companies and people who do muck around with patents. Talk to a patent attorney for proper advise. Some do a first session is free deal.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Ringer
                  $6-$10 what a complete rip off. I was expecting no more then $2.78..
                  Sorry, $6 - $10K

                  I realize Rotate is in Canada, but I was assuming he was talking about filing in the US, since that's where a lot of IP is collected and royalties disputed.
                  "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did."

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                  • #10
                    In the United States, either file for a provisionary patent which doesn't require a complete patent application and protects you for a year and let it expire or file a Statutory Invention Disclosure. Neither of these can be ignored by the patent office as part of their prior art search like a simple web publication can.

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                    • #11
                      There are publications specifically intended to meet the purpose Rotate suggests. IBM, for example, used to maintain the IBM Technical Disclosure Bulletin.

                      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IBM_Tec...osure_Bulletin

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                      • #12
                        Basically, what you're wanting to do would fall under Creative Commons and Open Source Standards. Both of them are commonly applied to things like software or music, but they can be used for hardware designs as well. Microsoft has been successfully sued for trying to patent things covered under Creative Commons and Open Source.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by ckelloug
                          In the United States, either file for a provisionary patent which doesn't require a complete patent application and protects you for a year and let it expire
                          That's a great idea Cameron. In fact, you could file the application for your idea, reference a public disclosure, and then let the application expire. The prior art would then be permanently recorded.

                          But in any of these cases, someone can still get a patent issued with the prior art, because the PTO is so wildly overloaded. It wouldn't survive even a superficial legal challenge, but you'd still have to challenge it to invalidate the patent.

                          I've run across dozens of patents that were blatantly based on prior art. In fact, we've discussed several such machinery patents here on HSM forum. In fact, one is on display in the Shop-made Tools thread
                          "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did."

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                          • #14
                            The sad fact is that patents or lack of them don't do much good for the little guy no matter what.

                            Case 1) you get your patent and tell the world you won't enforce it so it can be freely used by anyone. Big Biz Inc. decides to get their own patent on it for themselves anyway three years after yours. Who's the one out there patrolling patents to keep Big Biz Inc. in check? Noone. Yea they might get sued, but only if YOU decide to sue them and spend your own money to do it.

                            Case 2) You get your patent and move on to produce your widget to make a living. Well Big Biz Inc. decides to sue you for infringing on their patent even though your widget isn't really even similar. Who's there to exclaim "shenanigans" and call them off? Noone. You have a legal patent and their own patent doesn't even resemble your widget, but again you are now neck-deep in litigation between you and Big Biz Inc.. They have a full time legal department and a dozen lawyers on salary - you have $50K in savings, but only briefly. Soon your lawyers have that and you are out of business unless you just ignore the C&Ds. Their intention is to make your life expensive and eliminate you from their horizon.

                            Patents are pretty much useless to the little guy but big business can use a drawer full of them to squeeze their competition out of business. It's simply a tool they can use to gain and keep their monopolistic goals. If you have the money to litigate extensively, then patents are for you. The benefits lean heavily toward those with deep enough pockets to afford a bunch of litigation. Again, the lawyers win either way. Big Biz Inc. wins indirectly by keeping their competition stifled. "Nip it in the bud"

                            There are exceptions when a patent does an individual some good, but they are rare and anecdotal.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by tyrone shewlaces
                              Patents are pretty much useless to the little guy but big business can use a drawer full of them to squeeze their competition out of business. It's simply a tool they can use to gain and keep their monopolistic goals. If you have the money to litigate extensively, then patents are for you. The benefits lean heavily toward those with deep enough pockets to afford a bunch of litigation.

                              There are exceptions when a patent does an individual some good, but they are rare and anecdotal.
                              I have over 2 dozen patents (all paid for by my corporate employers) and that is a very accurate synopsis of US patent law.
                              "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did."

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