Patenting an Idea

Discussion in 'Off-Topic Discussion' started by Kandy, Feb 17, 2012.

  1. Kandy

    Kandy Will be glad to see the sun again soon.....

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    The other night while watching a programme on telly I suddenly had one of those lightbulb moments{like you do}with an idea to help the ailing population of bees and butterflies.:)This morning I had a quick look on the Patent website and they are going to send me through the post an info pack with ideas on how to go about patenting my idea.:D

    Has any members on here vere submitted and idea of theirs to the Patent office and if so did they go ahead with the idea?I think you have to submit drawings of the idea{Mr Kandy can do that side of it}but still don't know the ins and outs of it all as it seems a bit of a minefield if Dragons Den is anything to go by and i don't even know how to go about getting a prototype made up of my idea:D

    I have had an email come through from Innovate-Design who have said not to tell anyone of my idea unless they sign a confidentiality agreement first but if i would like to either ring or email them they will put me in the right direction but I am not sure if they are anything to do with the Patent people so at the moment have not done anything.

    Thanks:)
     
  2. miraflores

    miraflores Total Gardener

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    You can only patent tangible goods as far as I know.
    Plus nowadays because of technology it is so easy for people to replicate goods that it is worth patenting only something absolutely exclusive and hard to replicate.
     
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    • Kristen

      Kristen Under gardener

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      1. Do not tell anyone about your idea. If you have to tell anyone get them to sign a Non Disclosure Agreement, and make sure they understand that the information is confidential, and they must not tell anyone else.

      If the information comes into the "public domain" you will no longer be able to obtain a patent

      2. The Patent Office have a very useful pack (for one-man-band inventors) that makes it relatively easy to file your original application. You then have 12 months to file applications in other countries around the world claiming the original date that you applied at the UK Patent office (i.e. you have 12 months to see if you can commercialise your idea, and for someone else to pay for the cost of obtaining world-wide patent rights). The initial application is not very expensive, but exploiting it worldwide (or even in a few countries where your idea could be exploited) is expensive. There are some other aspects which defer the timing of the most significant costs further - by filing a "Worldwide" PCT application, and/or a "Europe-wide" EP application - but basically its 12 months from when you file your application to get a Sponsor.

      3. Beyond that initial application there are formalities to go through ("searches" that your idea hasn't already been patented by someone else, that it isn't already in the public domain, and that it fulfils the requirements for grant of a patent - I've forgotten exactly what they are, but something like "It must contain an inventive step" and "It must not be obvious to someone skilled-in-the-art" - so when you see something and slap your forehead and say "Why didn't I think of that" - that's a good candidate!), and each step costs money.

      4. Once your application is Granted (and you have a Granted Patent Yeh!) then there are renewal fees in each country that the patent is granted in. These increase over the life (generally 20 years from date of application) of the patent.

      The concept is that you are swapping your know-how and idea for a monopoly for 20 years, and in return everyone else gets to read (in your Patent Specification) exactly how your idea "works", and thus other people can, hopefully, have other new ideas from the benefit of your idea.

      Whether its a good idea, or not, and only favours big industry at the expense of small-investor, or not, is a different debate!

      Good luck!
       
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      • Kristen

        Kristen Under gardener

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        They can't make it if it infringes your patent (well ... they can ... but then you take them to court and make a mint out of them!). There are (specialist) venture capitalists who just invest their money in court battles when Little Guy is being screwed by Big Company but Little Guy has a good patent, so no need to have deep pockets, yourself, at the outset.

        But a rock-solid patent is important (but that is not essential at Day One, the refinement of the patent application can happen later on).

        Depends on the territory though. On the news the other day a presenter in China was standing outside the Apple store where iPads were being removed from sale because a Chinese company is claiming it has a Trademark for "iPad", but a few doors down a shop was selling Chinese rip-offs of the Apple iPad - Apple-Logo and all!
         
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        • JWK

          JWK Gardener

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          In my business I've lodged patents, but always used a patent agent, it costs much more than the DIY approach but is a bit more foolproof. This is their website, on their advice/clinic page:
          The Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys - CIPA - Clinics, free intellectual property legal advice, patents, designs, trade marks, - true
          they are helpful and if you use the directory to find a local one to you they will usually give you the first session free (sadly a world-wide patent is very expensive!)
           
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          • barnaby

            barnaby Gardener

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            Agree fully with JWK- a Patent Agent is a 'must' for anyone who is serious about patenting their ideas.
             
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            • clueless1

              clueless1 member... yep, that's what I am:)

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              You can take out a patent in the UK, and then someone in the US can quite legally patent your idea there, so you have to patent it there too. Then you have to make sure its patented anywhere else where they're likely to rip the idea off, but of course the time and cost of patenting in every country is just insane, especially when the patent laws of many countries overlap. This is why you hire an agent who knows the cheapest way to get the cover you need, if indeed its even worth the effort at all (sometimes, even if your idea is brilliant, a good lawyer will tell you not to bother with a patent because the patent won't offer any practical protection of your intellectual property).
               
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              • Aesculus

                Aesculus Bureaucrat 34 (Admin)

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                • shiney

                  shiney President, Grumpy Old Men's Club Staff Member

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                  The advice from everyone is good but to be patentable it needs to either be a totally new idea or a substantial difference from other ways of it doing what it does.

                  If possible you want to do a bit of research yourself to see whether anything similar has been done. You may think you have a new idea but quite often you haven't.

                  You can get more info from the Patent Office

                  Intellectual Property Office - Search patents
                   
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                  • Kristen

                    Kristen Under gardener

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                    Absolutely not the case for the initial filing for a one-man-band. Many patent agents will tell you to do just that - "make the first filing yourself", and the patent office publishes suitable guides. BEYOND that point you definitely need the help of a Patent Agent. For the first filing: ask a patent agent if you like.

                    Do put all the effort you can into getting the specification accurate though.
                     
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                    • Kristen

                      Kristen Under gardener

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                      Nope. You can claim the date of your application in the UK at the US patent office provided you do it within one year.

                      If your invention is in the public domain (your UK application has been "published" in the patent gazette for example) when your "rival" applies for their patent in the USA it won't be granted or, if it is, the presence of that "prior art" in the UK will be grounds for having it opposed and found to be invalid. (Although the USA are a bit insular in this regard, and suffer a lot from not-invented-here syndrome, but that's the principle of the matter).

                      However, if you have a UK patent, but no patent in the USA, then you have no protection in that country (but that's different to someone else in USA having a Patent and then having the monopoly in that territory)

                      "the time and cost of patenting in every country is just insane, especially when the patent laws of many countries overlap."

                      Yes it is expensive, but you can obtain a single PCT filing, which includes most countries in the world, and that only requires one set of formalities and removes a lot of the cost that used to exist in having to file in each country individually.

                      "sometimes, even if your idea is brilliant, a good lawyer will tell you not to bother with a patent because the patent won't offer any practical protection of your intellectual property"

                      Rare, sadly, in my experience. You go to a Patent Attorney saying you want a patent and they will file one for you. Strategic Patent advice is something that very few patent attorney practices do.
                       
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                      • Kristen

                        Kristen Under gardener

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                        I've had several inventions. All bar one of them already had patents that had been applied for (but there was nothing that I could find in the public domain using Google etc - the other applications came to light only when I had a professional search made) - which was rather annoying! Back to the drawing board ...
                         
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                        • shiney

                          shiney President, Grumpy Old Men's Club Staff Member

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                          Even product name and trading name protection can be a struggle. I had problems with two trading names. For the first one I was obviously in the wrong and gave up immediately it was challenged - but used it to get a better name :thumbsup:.

                          Many years later a multinational company tried to stop me from using the trading name I had been using for some years. I needed to use a Patent Agent to help with that fight (mainly because of all the searches necessary) and it took 18 months to win.
                           
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                          • Kandy

                            Kandy Will be glad to see the sun again soon.....

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                            Thanks for everyones advice and pointers:)My idea isn't somehting that is going to change the world in a drastic way and don't even think it can be called an invention now thinking about it but it was something that i thought could be produced that would help wildlife to stop them dying out a bit quicker:D

                            Shiney,I had a look at that link you sent me and i had already been on that site but when i looked it said you have to type in letters and numbers but as i don't have that information can't type anything in to see any patents.I expect everything requires money to do searches:(I did some research yesterday when i was out and about and from what i can see there isn't anything about at the moment of the same idea as i have.

                            I expect it is a bit like the Cup Cake industry,there are loads of people making and selling them and there seems enough custom to go round for everyone so perhaps I can make a start with my idea and just accept that others will see my idea and jump in with their own ideas to help wildlife:D

                            By the way,I haven't recived the starter pack yet from the Patent Office so will see if it comes next week:)
                             
                          • JWK

                            JWK Gardener

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                            Good luck with your idea Kandy :dbgrtmb:
                             
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