DIY US Patent

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Old 04-05-11, 09:23 AM
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DIY US Patent

Not sure if this is the right place to ask this, but does anyone have any info or suggestions on how to obtain a US patent? I've never applied for a patent before and it seems kind of daunting (types of patents, dozens of different fees, required documentation, etc). If it matters, I'd like to patent a piece of computer software.

I wouldn't mind purchasing a book or two if anyone has any recommendations.

Thanks!

- Joe
 
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Old 04-05-11, 11:08 AM
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Have you visited the government Patent website? There's lots of info there.

United States Patent and Trademark Office
 
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Old 04-05-11, 11:14 AM
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Yes, I did, and quite honestly, I was a bit overwhelmed. Was hoping for some "what you need to know" advice (from folks that have done this before), or a good book that boils it down.
 
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Old 04-05-11, 11:17 AM
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The Patent Process - For Dummies I haven't read this, but the "for dummies" books are usually pretty well written and clear and concise.
 
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Old 04-05-11, 11:40 AM
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Getting the patent is the easiest part.

Getting paid for it to get accepted and paid for is next step.

If it is a real good item and is successful, be prepared to pay the cost to defend it. - That can be a real long, costly($$$$$$$$) fight. I was involved as an "expert witness/consultant" in one case regarding a patent of a concrete block feature and in the documents there was information on the costs incurred to an earlier date and one side had over $500,000 spent in legal fees and the other side was probably similar.

Before you finally get your patent, save and information (drawings, sketches, ideas that are dated) and are confidential (only known by someone signing a non-expiring confidentiality agreement) that you can use if your patent is challenged. If it is a valuable idea/product/process you can expect people looking to use the concept, come up with prior works or a new, improved version for their own product.

Expect to hire an attorney as you go, especially for a patent search.

Keep everything confidential and do not explain the concept to anyone that has not signed a confidentiality agreement.

dicl
 
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Old 04-05-11, 12:30 PM
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dicl - thanks for the valuable information! First hand experience is worth 1000 books in my opinion

I think I may postpone applying for my patent until after I see if the idea takes off. This sounds like a costly process and I just don't have the bucks right now.

Thanks,

- Joe
 
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Old 04-05-11, 02:41 PM
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Not an expert on this, but often wish I was. There is a relatively new step you might want to look at, the provisional patent application. This step does not lessen the need to write a strong defensible submission, in fact what you submit is all you get. So no wimpy shortcuts, but the provisional is just an application fee and holds open a 12 month window for you to do exactly what you said, see where it goes. If you go to market first with no provisional or actual patent, the clock starts running and you may not be able to back up and apply for a patent.

All of that said, as Dick (dicl) mentioned, the search and the details are extremely important especially with software patents. Even if you choose to simply go forward without the patent, before you invest a bundle, you will want to have a quality search done to be sure you are not stepping on someone else's patent.

I was really surprised when my first patent application, a really neat little twist to an electronic circuit, turned out to have already be patented 2 years early by an engineer from GE. We had to redo that part of the design to find another way to get around his work. So a patent not only protects your design, it protects you from making a huge mistake, almost like you don't really have a choice.

As for cost, outrageous. All of my work was done by and paid for by the laboratory, but stories I have encountered out here in the private world would scare away even the most determined. If your idea is a million dollar opportunity, it may be worth the effort.

The other challenge again as Dick mentioned is being able to defend it. If you choose not to defend, then you essentially lose the right to challenge all others. If the company using your idea has deep pockets, it would be one in a million to beat them.

One last comment. If another company would be interested in your work, you might be able to work out a partnership where they do the application and provide the deep pockets. You won't get much, but maybe just the satisfaction of having your name on the patent may be better than nothing.

Good luck, and again, not a pro on this topic.
Bud
 
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Old 04-05-11, 03:18 PM
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Interesting... didn't know about provisional patents! If I decide to pursue this, sounds like the way to go!

I'm assuming that, to allow for sufficient competition, the patents have to be very specific, but not TOO specific that they would allow your competitors to easily circumvent the patent.

Maybe I should read a few software patents that are already out there...
 
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Old 04-05-11, 04:36 PM
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There are two ways to protect infringement, a patent or a copyright.

To not infringe on someones copyright , www.askdavetaylor.com has a simple explanation.

A copyright gives you the right to stop someone else from "copying" (or using) software that you own. However, if someone else creates their own software from scratch, that would not be "copying" so there is nothing you could do about that.

However a patent protects an "idea." If someone else uses your patented idea, they are infringing, and you can get a court to make them stop, even if they just happened to come up with the same idea on their own.

Think of it this way. Microsoft can prevent someone for distributing unauthorized "copies" of Microsoft Word, but they can't prevent Corel from distributing WordPerfect. This is because Microsoft has only a copyright on Word, not a patent.
If you have a good idea a quick visit to a patent attorney might be worth it.
 
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Old 04-05-11, 08:48 PM
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Interesting... this software would exist on web server which only I would have access to so no worries about copies of it getting out.

I'm more worried about someone (with more money/resources) taking what I have done, perhaps doing it better faster, and shutting me out.

I purchased this book from Amazon... I'll let you guys know how it is.
Amazon.com: Patent It Yourself: Your Step-by-Step Guide to Filing at the U.S. Patent Office (9781413310580): David Pressman: Books

- Joe
 
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Old 04-05-11, 09:52 PM
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Before you explain it or give ANY information, make sure they sign a non-disclosure statement, even if they are good friend or relative.

There are many situations where someone takes the information and finds a partner with "deep products" to break the patent and make money or protect the current competitive products.

I am not being cynical, but just offering what I have seen.

After getting a patent, in order to get it used and collect a penny or two, the next step is also costly and time consuming since it is the marketing.

Often, patents or patentable ides are developed to point or make them potentially profitable and then sold to a company in a similar or compatible business for $ figure plus consulting fees and a small percentage of the sales/profits.

the closer you get, you will have to consider international patents the are represented by most patents, but that is a different situation where a copyright on something identifiable may be valuable.

Most patents never get used.

Good luck!

Dick
 
 

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