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So you Wanna Be an Inventor

There are many misconceptions about patent laws that many of us have heard before. Like the saying "they will change it a little bit and just copy it anyway."
         Well to set things straight, if that were to be true, nobody would bother with the time and expense of securing a patent. Those sceptical people don't know that there are a number of different types of patents granted. Each one has their own values, guidelines and length of terms granted to them.

The two most popular types are known as:
Design Patent 
and Utility Patent.  
There are substantial differences between them.

A Utility Patent is used to protect a method of use, or a mechanism that performs a function. can be granted on a contraption, but even if a person changes it a little bit here or there by an inch or two, or no matter who long or short it is, or whatever size it is, it will perform the same function, therefore it takes more than reverse engineering to copy it without infringing upon the patent protecting it. Since utility patents are usually complex, it's common for them to have multiple claims written to protect it.

An inventor of a product that can qualify for a design patent is more apt to file for a patent themselves. However an inventor with a contraption would receive better protection with a utility patent and would more likely use the services of a patent lawyer who specializes in the field of the invention to get the best possible protection available.

A Design Patent is a narrower and more for pacific embodiment based on its looks for its protection. It can be granted on a unique ornamental or visible shape such as a coffee cup, lamp, building, or cabinet for a computer can be covered by fewer and less complex claims describing for protection. Drawings show just what it looks like, but someone else could design a similar idiom and change the appearance of it and turn around and manufacture it and also file for another patent on it if they wish. Design patents are usually used to protect things that are mass produced by injection molds or stamping process. Design patents have a shorter protection term of 14 years compared to 20 for Utility and Plant Patents. They are usually fewer claims written to protect them. And being easier to apply for; there less need for lawyer for those do it your-selfers.

A Plant Patent is one that is granted on plants, but I'm not one to say much about them because I'm not really interested them.

An inventor should be aware of differences in patent laws and the applicable rules that apply in the United States compared to requirements in foreign counties.

First off is that you should be aware that many foreign countries, patents are granted to the person who files first on an invention, as in "First to file." In the US: the patent will be granted to whoever is the first to conceive and shows diligence in to performing reduction to practice. That means if a person can prove time of conception and makes efforts to build a proto-type and or test the invention.

In the United States, you have up to one year after you publicize, offer to sale, or sell your invention before you are required to file. If you plan to file in a foreign country, you can't publicize, offer to sale, or sell your invention until after you file for a patent. If you file in the US you have up to a year after that US filling date to file in foreign countries. If you file in a foreign country first, you have up to one year after that filing date to file in the US.

Once you have filed a patent application in at least one country, you are free to publicize, offer for sale, and sale your invention without fear of loosing you right to patents on the invention. However I'd like to warn you that jumping the gun and publicizing your invention before filing you will not only loose the right to file in foreign country, but odds are that you will attract interference from a would be competitor and they may find ways of depleting your finances to keep you from filing in a year's time. You may even find it hard to get an attorney to file the application within a year’s time. Basically if you sell one, it better bring in some serious cash, otherwise you may find yourself in the poor house.

If you only file at the US Patent and Trademark Office, the patent office is suppose to keep your application confidential; (but I wouldn't count on it,) therefore you would still have a trade secrete if there is not a patent grant you a patent on your invention. Moreover, if you only file in the US and you jump the gun and publicize your invention while it's still a pending application, you could bring on heat from a competitor who could interfere in your goal of receiving a patent before it is granted. And if you file in a foreign country -- 18 months after you file your application, "it" will be published by the patent office not only in that foreign country, but the also in the US if you have filed "it" there.

The eighteen month may have only one good point: that it may let some major corporation know who has a nifty idea that they might be interested in marketing though a license deal, but odds are: it could also let a potential competitor know of the existence of you invention. Since there is such a thing known as the, "Not invented in this house syndrome," odds are they'd rather put you out of commission.

I've only given you a few of the 11 pages that covers the basics of patent laws in Sunnyside. And this is where I'm going to draw a line, because if you are truly serious about trying to patent something, $15.00 for the knowledge I have written out for you, is a drop in the bucket and that same $15.00 may very well save you thousands. It just may as well save you the patent that you would never get. I learned the hard way and I'm not about to give it all away. And believe me, I've spent well over $100.00 on books about it and only one would even state any of the pit-falls of the industry, and it was written by an inventor. The books written by lawyers are ok, but they are not about to scare you, and if they told you everything; then you wouldn't need a lawyer now would you?

More on how Bill Clinton changed the patent laws can be found in my newsletter in:

The Part about The Fire

Rule Number 8

September 5th, 2011 Rule 16
I figured I'd mention a few of my heroes. I found them in a book titled WHO 
I don't understand why the author Erin Hugh titled it Black Patents instead of Patents granted to Black Inventors, but just think what it would have been like if they had not come up with their inventions.
I took a picture of the two pages out of the Black Inventors.

Elijah McCoy who was my kind of guy because of his mechanical abilities, Fredrick McKinley Jones came up with refrigeration of which many have to be thankful for, a Lewis Howard Latimer my have got his name on the patent as the inventor but something tells me that Thomas Edison actually ended up owning the patents.
 Woods and Morgan came up with some important stuff too.
Regardless, many of these inventors would probably end up dead today because they would be stepping on some corporation's market share.

 


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The "post office patent," we've all heard about, (the one where you mail yourself a letter with your idea inside, just to get a dated post mark,) doesn't hold water, because it's too dam easy to send an unsealed envelope through the mail.

 

How you may ask? I'd run down to Kinko's and use some white-out tape that peels off real easy to seal the envelope.

 

And if you wonder how a patent lawyer or anyone for that mater, can back date your invention. It's all about a public notary's register. It's only a slot where there put a persons name and that they had witnessed a signing of a document. All they have to do is make a new document to have their own public notary stamp and back date it to that prior register. (This is what happens at many of the invention submission agencies you see advertised on TV.) It's against the law for patent lawyer to advertise on TV, so they just call themselves invention submission corporations.) You can bet that they will ask you if you have a proto-type. If you don't, they can walk into their own public notary and write phony paper against you. Kiss that thing good-by.

There is one good thing that came out of the new changes in the US patent laws. It's called the Provisional patent application.
  Basically you can file with just photos and a description for only $75, but you have to have the full blown application filed within a year, so the problem would be whether you will have the money to do so. And that means you would need the applications foreign countries in also. And that can be a bitch if your attorney is dogging you.
      However, it's a good thing to do before going to a patent lawyer when you have no proto-type. But you would have to wonder just how honest the folks are in the patent office. Or even post office for that matter.

If you are interested, you can check out the second link on Current Events. (Go to Current Events and then click on More Current Events.) There you will find out who's behind an effort to change the patent laws to first to file instead of first to invent.
      Yeah, just try to get it past a patent lawyer when his cousin can file before you. Well at least if he isn't honest. As for my experience, I've only found 2 honest lawyers out of 5. So good luck.

I've seen a lot of Confidential, Non-Disclosure Agreement forms over the years and I realize they have their limitations upon keeping something top secret, but I would advise most inventors to use them during the patent pending period. And while I was in a technical book store in London, I ran across one to be the best I'd ever seem. If you are interested in having such a thing you are lucky not having to sit down and type it in manually as I did. I'll serve it up to you in a PDF file if you like.

Download:
Non-Disclosure - PDF file

 

I found a cool site for information about the patent industry. It's posted by patent attorney Stephen M. Nipper, it has a few free booklets in PDF format.

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Warning: If any advertisers want to know anything about your invention, just remember the odds are that they just want to steal it. Don't go there.
 

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