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  • Invented something .Now??

    I had a need and built something. It worked better than I had hoped.

    Now I am starting to think I have a money opportunity here.I tried to do a patent search but got side tracked quickly.

    I dont really want to get into building and distributing a product but doent know how to sell the idea to a company without giving the idea away..It doesnt take alot to build so it would be easy to design and copy it.

    What would you guys suggest? Money is really no problem to develop this but time is.Never home but if it could become big I have a teen that could work at this maybe.. Thanks guys Jim

  • #2
    Rules have changed. Last time I checked fee has gone way up and you have to pay a maintenance fee every 3 years to keep the patent. In the past every Tom Dick and Harry could get a patent and they do nothing with it. It is too much paper work so the goverment made it harder for the small guy to get a patent.

    Next problem if you get a patent and someone wants to steal your idea all they have to do is make a few changed then get their own patent on their new idea. Nothing you can do about it.

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    • #3
      I am actively looking into ideas that I can build and sell. As for patents, I have completely given up on them. Do read the comments of Don Lancaster.

      My approach is to look for ideas that are not worth stealing by the big corporations. Just make a high quality or improved product and sell it at the best price possible. If I get ripped off, I'll just move on to the next idea. Besides, what better reconendation for your ideas than having it ripped off.
      Paul A.
      SE Texas

      Make it fit.
      You can't win and there is a penalty for trying!

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      • #4
        Personally I would forget about trying to get a patent. First it would cost a lot of money and take a lot of time. Then if you succeed in getting a patent it will not prevent someone from stealing your idea. The only thing it does is allow you to spend more of your time and money suing them in the hope of getting them to stop using your idea.

        If it is something that is easy to make I would consider making it yourself. Build assembly fixtures and tooling to make building it as quick and as easy as possible. Is it something you could sell yourself by handing out fliers or placing adds in newspapers, magazines etc.

        If it is something you want to sell to a company you can tell them what it does and if they are interested then you ask them to sign a confidentiality agreement then you will describe how it is made. This basically says that if they decide to use your idea then they will pay you for it and if they don’t they will not tell anyone else about it. This will not give you 100% protection, but then nothing will, and it is better then nothing and it is quick an easy thing to do.

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        • #5
          There is a program on PBS called Everyday Edisons that deals with this situation, here's the link

          http://www.everydayedisons.com/



          .

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Paul Alciatore
            My approach is to look for ideas that are not worth stealing by the big corporations. Just make a high quality or improved product and sell it at the best price possible. If I get ripped off, I'll just move on to the next idea.
            Exactly, and that's just what I've done with my little products, the most successful of which, Jack the Gripper , I've sold close to 20 grand worth at wholesale over that last coupla years to an outfit that retails them.

            Keeps me in practice cranking handles, and buys me some hardware. . .
            Cheers,

            Frank Ford
            HomeShopTech

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            • #7
              The main purpose for a patent these days is to provide grounds for legal action, not to protect an idea. Ripping off patents is a business model for many companies. In fact, even just obtaining a patent on your device could expose you to a lawsuit that would prevent you from doing anything with the idea.
              Free software for calculating bolt circles and similar: Click Here

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Evan
                The main purpose for a patent these days is to provide grounds for legal action, not to protect an idea. Ripping off patents is a business model for many companies. In fact, even just obtaining a patent on your device could expose you to a lawsuit that would prevent you from doing anything with the idea.
                Not only what Evan says, but the reality of patent law is that it's not the amount of fight in the dog, it's how much money the dogs owner has to keep paying the lawyers until you can no longer afford to buy Ole Roy for your dog to keep fighting.

                Meaning, make your money while you can, if someone thinks your idea is good enough to rip off, they are going to, regardless of whether you own the patent or not...and if they don't, then it'll just have one little portion of the claim reworded so that your patent is worthless.

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                • #9
                  since the internet came along ..all patents are now shared on-line ..drawings diagrams the idea behind it

                  you could patent something at great cost ..and someone else (the Chinese) will see your idea ..and be making it before you...selling it and shipping it half way around the world before you .


                  i belong to a welsh innovators club ..some in that club are getting on in life ..do not have the internet..and have paid out thousands to patent something ..

                  and didn't believe me that their whole patent was on-line for everyone to see and copy ..I had to take the diagrams to the next meeting ..before they would believe me ..boy were they pissed off.


                  all the best.markj
                  Last edited by aboard_epsilon; 12-24-2010, 09:50 AM.

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                  • #10
                    I have worked with a number of inventors over the years, and the general concensus is that patents make money for patent lawyers and do very little for anyone else. The general rule is, that the first person to market wins. Mass produce, flood the market, make you money in the first 3 years, then invent something else. or---Patent your item and lease the patent to a manufacturing company. I have a friend who draws well over $100,000 a year from royalties paid by companies who produce and sell the item he holds the patent for.
                    Brian Rupnow

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                    • #11
                      Patents have their place. Many seem to be down on them but a well written patent does indeed protect your invention - if it is indeed novel. Some things you may want to consider:

                      The key point is well written - drafting the claims and getting them approved by the patent office is something that an experienced patent attorney should do for you. Figure out what this will cost you and decide if there is a business case for making the investment in a patent. Yes there are filing fees and maintenance fees and of course the attorney fees. It's not cheap that's why you need to decide if the money you may make is worth it. If you really feel someone may try to copy your invention figure in the additional cost of legally defending it.

                      Yes, someone can change something and "copy" your invention - but only to the extent they can avoid your patent claims. This is where well written claims are extremely important. The patent attorney's objective will be to get the most general and broad reaching patent claims approved. For example its better to have a patent on a screwdriver, than a #2 Phillips head, 6", steel screwdriver with plastic handle.

                      The Chinese (or anyone else) can't violate your U.S. patent and sell the product in the U.S. However your U.S. patent only protects you in the U.S. If you want global coverage you have to file in all the countries where you want protection. There is a coordinated approval process for many countries but you still have individual filing and maintenance fees.

                      Your patent application immediately becomes public information - regardless if a patent is ever issued.

                      I am not an attorney.
                      Last edited by torchroadster; 12-24-2010, 10:19 AM.

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                      • #12
                        Yes, someone can change something and "copy" your invention - but only to the extent they can avoid your patent claims.
                        A patent's usefulness in protecting your invention is directly proportional to the amount of money you have to pay a lawyer. Then the most you can expect is to get an injunction to stop the infringer from selling the item. If they don't stop then you have to sue again to establish contempt of the court order.
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                        • #13
                          I "believe" you can pay an application fee for a patent and be protected for one year without actually having to pay for the patent. I had a class with a patent attorney once and he said that was a cheap way to go. The application fee was only $35 and then you had a year to actually shop your idea around with out all the expensive fees.

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                          • #14
                            You can file a "Provisional Patent". It is good for one year. I'm not sure how much it costs as we have a patent attorney/firm on sort of a retainer.

                            I thought patents had become a huge waste of time but in the last few years have discovered that what they have become is insurance against having to defend yourself against someone with deeper pockets.

                            If you have been building something for years before others and have internal notes, drawings, etc. that back this up, you own the right to continue building it even though someone else patents it.

                            The problem is that before you reach a point where you have proved this (to the competitor's attorney's and/or the courts) you have probably spent at least several tens of thousands of $$ defending your right.

                            If you patent it first, now you're the one in the driver's seat, even if someone else has been making it before you.

                            We went thru the former in the past 2 years and it was neither cheap nor fun. We have the right to continue manufacture but it cost upwards of $100k (just internal and legal costs, no licensing involved).

                            Still, it seems like the system has become pure BS such as this, coupled with patents of "applications" rather than real stuff. You could probably patent the use of a garden hose to water a garden ... no joking, it's pretty close to this. People are patenting the use of off the shelf products, combined with other off the shelf products, to perform a task that THEY WERE MADE TO DO IN THE FIRST PLACE !!

                            Den
                            Last edited by nheng; 12-24-2010, 02:30 PM.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Evan
                              ... even just obtaining a patent on your device could expose you to a lawsuit that would prevent you from doing anything with the idea.
                              Evan,

                              Could you expand on this? Im planning on applying for a patent, and want to know more.
                              Allan Ostling

                              Phoenix, Arizona

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