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Author Topic: Applying for Patent?  (Read 1561 times)
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Matt K

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« on: Aug 26, 2017, 05:17PM »

I have an idea for a brass-related invention that I don't see anywhere with a cursory perusing thorough Google patents... was thinking about contacting a patent lawyer for it but the whole process seems pretty intimidating from someone who hasn't done anything like it before. Has anyone here applied for a patent that might have some advice for how to go about it?
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robcat2075

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« Reply #1 on: Aug 26, 2017, 05:46PM »

My brother went through the process for a medical invention.

Eventually he gave up; there seemed to be no end to new things the lawyer needed money for.
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Robert Holmén

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« Reply #2 on: Aug 26, 2017, 05:59PM »

You can prosecute a patent yourself.  Patent lawyers are REALLY expensive.  Maybe have a consultation with one just to see if the idea is at all patentable.  One of the most obnoxious tests of a patent submission is that the idea must be unovbious.  I've seen lots of patents thrown out because the idea was eventually proven to be something that any knowledgeable person could come up with.

Go to the Patent Office site and see what is involved.  You have to submit an application.  If it's a device you will need to submit a drawing (and these have to be done a certain way -- there are patent drafting specialists).

Make sure your patent claims are set up so nobody can steal your idea by working around your claims.  Generally you will see several claims in a patent, starting from the broadest claim and becoming more detailed.  But always stop short of describing EXACTLY what it is.

I think I've read some 500 patents trying to see if what I was working on was covered in some other patent.  There are actual companies that specialize in patent searches (again, costs money; but you can do it yourself).

Once you manage to submit your application you will have to deal with an examiner who will make your life a living hell.  This is probably why RobCat's brother finally gave up.

Also note that there are some fees involved here.  If you don't plan to sell your invention, you probably don't want to patent it.  Instead, see if you can sell your idea to someone who can commercialize it.
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Bruce Guttman
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« Reply #3 on: Aug 26, 2017, 06:34PM »

Being able to afford applying for a patent is one thing. To derive the expected benefits, you also need to be able to afford to defend it,mpossibly in multiple countries.
Based on people I've met, there seem to be a lot of patent attorneys who do well for themselves and a lot of inventors who have been misguided in going for patents and lost their shirt.
The few who do well out of patents tend to be those who have a business plan from the start -not  just an idea.
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« Reply #4 on: Aug 26, 2017, 09:10PM »

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you also need to be able to afford to defend it,mpossibly in multiple countries.

Yes, if your idea is easily manufactured it will almost certainly be copycatted and sold for less on ebay and Amazon and the Chinese versions of those, whose policing of such things ranges from zero to complicit.

Maybe your most practical path is to find an attorney who can guide you in disclosing it to established music companies who can deal with that stuff.
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Robert Holmén

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Matt K

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« Reply #5 on: Aug 27, 2017, 04:49AM »

Thanks all, that definitely confirms my suspicions.  This idea is definitely easily manufactured/duplicatable, although I don't think the scope of it will be that large so it may well not be worth pursuing a patent anyway.  There's a certain niche that I believe will find this very useful though... maybe I'll just stick to that and see how far I can take it.
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SilverBone
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« Reply #6 on: Aug 27, 2017, 04:35PM »

Patenting is a ton of work.  I hold one patent that was applied for by a company for which I was working.  Their lawyer filed reams of paperwork.   This actually was a software patent, but the lawyer's filings included a hardware realization that did the same thing as the software.  It was complicated and bizarre.

https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=16&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwixj6TryfjVAhVOwmMKHd1-DsQQFghhMA8&url=https%3A%2F%2Fpatentimages.storage.googleapis.com%2Fpdfs%2FUS4574362.pdf&usg=AFQjCNF1Ni9NZ5aAbm8Ugk71631FO4TYSQ

Rather than patenting, you might consider finding a way to use copyright protection.  Perhaps the device you've invented is not usable without detailed instructions.  Write up the instructions and copyright that.  Copyright is free.  File a Form TX.
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-Howard

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« Reply #7 on: Aug 27, 2017, 04:55PM »

BTW, if the cost of obtaining a patent seems daunting, consider the cost of pursuing a patent infringement suit!

Having a patent and protecting it are (unfortunately) different things.
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-Howard

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BillO
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« Reply #8 on: Aug 27, 2017, 08:38PM »

I've been through this.

The best advice I can give you are, there are two obvious reasons not to patent and idea.

1) The idea is very technological (and example would be electronic or software in nature) that way it can be updated regularly with desirable features.  This will immediately dissuade would be copy cats as they won't want to play catch-up.  Too expensive for them.  All you need to do to discourage copying is to change it up.

2) The idea has a very limited market.  If the product is desirable enough, you can charge an amount commensurate with it's value to the customer and if you are lucky that might mean income for you. An example would be Doug Elliot's mouthpieces.  They would be expensive to copy, the market is limited and nobody want's to play 2nd fiddle to a success and still try to be competitive.

There are other reasons not to have a patent, but they won't apply here.

I know there are a ton of patents taken out in the trombone world, but most are a waste of money and time.  Both Hagmann and Thayer are patented and have both been copied and have not been able to squash this.  Folks who know what they want will still buy the real thing.  Folks that would instruments with the copies in them would never have ponied up the dough for the real thing anyway.

So, I'd say you are good to go without a patent in this small world.  Unless of course you feel your invention is such that it is groundbreaking and would have every manufacturer beating a path to your door step so they could license your thing for every trombone they make.  This is the time you need a patent.
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« Reply #9 on: Aug 28, 2017, 09:01AM »

I have a couple such patentable trombone thingies.  People often say, "Man, you should patent that!" 

But I say, Why?  I'm going to get rich selling stuff to trombone players?

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« Reply #10 on: Aug 28, 2017, 10:35AM »

Generally speaking... It will cost you >$1000 to patent something, even doing it the cheap way.  How many do you expect to sell? What sort of margin will you have on it that you can get back that $1K+  in anything close to a reasonable time frame?

The only reason to patent something individually is if you plan on having a full company that will be able to defend the patent from competition.  Doing it yourself will just annoy you and not really stop anybody.  See Thayer and the crazy decades long fight there.

Trademark and Copyright seem like a better plan if you can work it, but that depends a lot on what it is you plan to do.

Cheers,
Andy
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Andrew Elms
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« Reply #11 on: Aug 28, 2017, 11:33AM »

If it's a composition of matter (like a slide lube) you are better off treating it as a Trade Secret.  You have to divulge what's hazardous in it in the MSDS (Safety Data Sheet) but can use very approximate proportions so it becomes harder to copy.
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Bruce Guttman
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« Reply #12 on: Aug 28, 2017, 11:46AM »

  You have to divulge what's hazardous in it in the MSDS (Safety Data Sheet) but can use very approximate proportions so it becomes harder to copy.

Do people ever put phony stuff in that to make it even harder?
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Robert Holmén

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« Reply #13 on: Aug 28, 2017, 12:12PM »

Do people ever put phony stuff in that to make it even harder?

I've never analyzed something to verify MSDS, so I wouldn't know.  Some things are not considered hazardous and will not appear on the MSDS and they could be important components.  MSDS is simply concerned with poison and fire hazard.  Then again, I doubt you could do much damage with a flaming tube of Trombotine ;-)
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Bruce Guttman
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« Reply #14 on: Aug 28, 2017, 12:28PM »

Do people ever put phony stuff in that to make it even harder?
You are generally putting info on an MSDS to limit your liability if somebody uses it improperly or fails to handle it safely.  I imagine that if somebody were hurt and it was discovered that there was an intentional falsehood on that...  Enjoy that time with the jury, they like to give big awards against 'lying companies.'

Cheers,
Andy
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Andrew Elms
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« Reply #15 on: Aug 28, 2017, 12:57PM »

You are generally putting info on an MSDS to limit your liability if somebody uses it improperly or fails to handle it safely.  I imagine that if somebody were hurt and it was discovered that there was an intentional falsehood on that...  Enjoy that time with the jury, they like to give big awards against 'lying companies.'

How would that work though?  If I say it has Oxychloride X in it and someone gets OXFlaS (Oxychloride X Flatulence Syndrome) and then we reveal it never had any Oxychloride X in it...
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Robert Holmén

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« Reply #16 on: Aug 28, 2017, 02:00PM »

How would that work though?  If I say it has Oxychloride X in it and someone gets OXFlaS (Oxychloride X Flatulence Syndrome) and then we reveal it never had any Oxychloride X in it...

You are still on the hook because you said it had that stuff in it.

Watch out for products incorporating Dihydrogen Monoxide :)
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Bruce Guttman
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BillO
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« Reply #17 on: Aug 28, 2017, 02:24PM »

You are still on the hook because you said it had that stuff in it.

Watch out for products incorporating Dihydrogen Monoxide :)
I love the stuff.  Putting a bit into single malt scotch is a delight.
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Matt K

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« Reply #18 on: Aug 28, 2017, 04:27PM »

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So, I'd say you are good to go without a patent in this small world.  Unless of course you feel your invention is such that it is groundbreaking and would have every manufacturer beating a path to your door step so they could license your thing for every trombone they make.  This is the time you need a patent.

I think its a good idea, but it isn't that good, unfortunately!


Quote
If it's a composition of matter (like a slide lube) you are better off treating it as a Trade Secret.  You have to divulge what's hazardous in it in the MSDS (Safety Data Sheet) but can use very approximate proportions so it becomes harder to copy.

Fortunately, it isn't hazardous! No MSDS sheets for me!

Quote
The only reason to patent something individually is if you plan on having a full company that will be able to defend the patent from competition.  Doing it yourself will just annoy you and not really stop anybody.  See Thayer and the crazy decades long fight there.

That does seem to be the case.  In this event, I think its useful enough that if it gets duplicated and produced by someone else, I'll be content knowing that it's making peoples' lives easier.

Thanks for the feedback everyone.  Stay tuned... hopefully I'll have something toghter in the future. I think at least a few people here will be interested  Idea!
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« Reply #19 on: Oct 24, 2017, 02:49PM »

You should count on the cost of a patent being more like 50k.

Patents confer a monopoly (in the best-case scenario) in exchange for showing people exactly how you did it, it is hard to imagine a scenario in something as narrow as trombones that pursuing one would be worth it.

The better thing is to come out of the chute with something that is both well designed and well-made, and not so outrageously priced that the amount you're making on it attracts undue attention from one of the bigger players.

Stay under the radar, and you could do quite well.
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