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friend wants patents for invention, how?

Posted on 2013-07-01
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Last Modified: 2013-07-13
My mother's friend has a design for a garden-work aid.

How should she go about a solid patent, without a lawyer?

Thanks
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Question by:beavoid
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by:Scott Fell, EE MVE
Scott Fell,  EE MVE earned 167 total points
ID: 39291599
If you have a patent and no lawyer, that is like going into a heavy battle of bullets with no armor.  Ultimately, having a patent is as much about defending it.  If you have a patent, and somebody else steals your idea and you do not have the means to defend it, I believe you loose.  

Otherwise, this is what you need http://www.uspto.gov/web/patents/howtopat.htm

I think an attorney will be about $5,000.  If your idea will not generate the kind of revenue for this, it is probably not worth the effort.  

First to file just passed a couple of months ago.   http://www.uspto.gov/news/pr/2012/12-44.jsp
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by:Dave Baldwin
Dave Baldwin earned 166 total points
ID: 39291677
Patents are all about lawyers and courts.  A patent is basically a license to sue someone for using your idea.  The government is not going to do anything to protect your patent.  Their service is just an Official announcement with dates and information that can be used in court.  By lawyers.

Note that many of the best ideas do not get patented because part of the patent process requires revealing everything that you have done to show that it is worth granting a patent for it.  These documents are then Public information that anyone can get a copy of.  And if your patent is denied, then they have the information to make use of it for themselves.
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tliotta earned 167 total points
ID: 39302664
Of course, if a patent is denied, you can't get much out of it no matter what. It doesn't change anything for you (or your mother's friend) if someone else gets rich.

Patents are denied for various reasons: prior art, natural laws, etc. If denied and someone else makes money by manufacturing, then that someone had sufficient capital available. If you can't afford lawyers, it seems certain you can't afford manufacturing anyway.

But if it is marketable and you don't even apply for a patent, then there isn't much of a chance of making any money at all.

Some of any initial patent lawyer cost is general research through existing patent documents. When almost half a million applications are filed each year, it can be tricky being sure that a patent doesn't already exist for the idea or design, or perhaps that it isn't already a generally used item somewhere. The need to review all similar patents takes knowledge, experience and time. But the need is technically only to avoid throwing away any patent filing fees that you might pay multiple times just to get a valid application written. You can do your own patent searches and fill out and file all needed paperwork. You can also wait a year to find out only that you need to do it again and fill out the application correctly.

Finally, of course, after everything is done correctly, the actual market might not be worth enough to pay manufacturing and distribution costs...

...or it could be worth millions of dollars.

Tom
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