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Clock work radio - Was it patentable

Clock work radio - Was it patentable

Clock work radio - Was it patentable

(OP)
I have an idea for a human powered machine, that I believe is commercially viable.
None of the technology is new, only the human powered bit is new.
Does any body know on what grounds, the patent could be refused?

RE: Clock work radio - Was it patentable

Obviousness to a practitioner of the art.  

Have you checked to see if it or something similar has already been patented?  

-b

RE: Clock work radio - Was it patentable

(OP)
bvanhiel
Yes I have. I have not found anything similar, is that because it is not possible to patent something just because it is human powered?

RE: Clock work radio - Was it patentable

Depends on the method of powering... saying it's "human powered" is too vague.  For example, if it was powered by the residual heat of a body, you have the beginnings of a patentable opportunity, but again, you have to be more specific... heat pumps and Peltier devices are obvious to practitioners, so they won't qualify.

You could consider a utility patent if you think the design is worth patenting, but I find those even worse when it comes to lawsuits... only useful to huge corporations who can scare the bejesus out of small companies who try to steal designs (iPod or iMacs being an excellent example... Apple has an amazing design team).

Dan - Owner
http://www.Hi-TecDesigns.com

RE: Clock work radio - Was it patentable

You can patent almost anything you want.  Add a shred of novelty to whatever you need and you can certainly gain a patent.  I've worked with clients to do this lots of times.  You can make almost anything patentable by adding something novel or perhaps even a novel combination of existing items for a novel purpose.  Your patent must "teach" something--so that something needs to be "new" or it's already been taught by common familiarity or former patents.

Jeff Mowry
www.industrialdesignhaus.com
Reason trumps all.  And awe transcends reason.

RE: Clock work radio - Was it patentable

I can't say I entirely agree with Jeff.  While you most certainly can get a patent, it may not actually protect your invention.  So unless you want to spend $8-$20k just to hang a plaque on the wall, you may not want to bother.

I've spent my share of time working around competitor's patents.  It was an irritation, but it didn't keep us from shipping out product.

I'd do a couple of things before I bothered with a patent:
1) Make sure there's nothing out there in the market (past or present) like it.
2) Check the USPTO website for similar products.
3) Check again.  That guy who said that "everything has been patented" wasn't that far off.  I've found 100 different patents for a foot operated mechanism to lift a toilet seat.
4) Figure out if what you are trying to protect is actually worth protecting.

-b

RE: Clock work radio - Was it patentable

Oh--that's a good point, bvanhiel.  I wasn't arguing that the patent would be much use at all--simply that it could be obtained.  A patent gained on such weak grounds as what I mentioned would be of little value to protect your IP.

But that's assuming you want to protect IP, as opposed to something else--like perhaps getting the foreboding "Patent Pending" stamped on something while launching it commercially.  That's actually relatively valuable in itself sometimes--helps keep some of the competition at bay while developing your market.  And if you only need that, go for an inexpensive design patent--super "weak" from an IP standpoint, but why pay more for ~2 years of "protection" under your pending status if that's all it's worth to you?  (Yes, I've had clients who really only want a patent for this reason.)

So if you have an idea you think you could sell, you'll want to protect it as well as possible.  Short of being able to do so, you do the next best thing--whatever that happens to be.

I'm not a patent attorney, nor will I ever be one.  Personally, I'm coming to the conclusion that any patent you get from now on will be increasingly worth less and less--not because there's "nothing new under the sun", but because of our present litigious state.  Any law can already be challenged.  Any person can already be sued for any reason.  Therefore any patent can be 1) challenged in court, or, 2) blatantly infringed upon, leaving you to pay lawyers to protect your idea.  Unless you have the cash to do so, your patent is already, in effect, invalid.  If your idea is worth anything, plan to face both of the above scenarios.  I've found several of my patented products knocked off already (not that I hold the patent, but that I contributed to the claims while creating the design).  See if it's really worth all this noise.  It certainly isn't to me.

Jeff Mowry
www.industrialdesignhaus.com
Reason trumps all.  And awe transcends reason.

RE: Clock work radio - Was it patentable

(OP)
Thank you for your words of experience. You have pretty much confirmed my own views.
In my case I think I could better invest $8-$20K in developing the product and the manufacturing process. This way the potential competion would have to invest a similar amount to "compete".

Thanks again,

Colin

RE: Clock work radio - Was it patentable

Colin,

After you spend $$ on developing the product, you are still much less than halfway done.  Marketing and distribution are the real problems that a successful product oriented company must overcome.  Plan on spending many times the amount of product development before your product is in stores.

-b

RE: Clock work radio - Was it patentable

bvanhiel is right.  I've had better product designs manufactured (and patented) and hit brick walls with established retailers such as Home Depot.  Some of the obstacles you can plan on being prohibited from tackling.  The best way I know of overcoming them is to have a successful product before hitting the large established retailers.  So you may want to consider opening shop on the Internet and local shops in your area as a starting point.  If you can find success there, others will want what you have later (you have a track record to sell).

Beware landing big orders--these can easily hose your business.  Keep in mind, going from a garage full of products to a multiple-container shipment can spell financial disaster for you if something goes wrong with that shipment--which it often will if you've suddenly increased production volume.  A given vendor cannot always keep up with demand increases of that sort so suddenly.

Think all this through and do some heavy research.  The best product certainly doesn't always make it into the stores--there is a lot more involved than mere merit.

Jeff Mowry
www.industrialdesignhaus.com
Reason trumps all.  And awe transcends reason.

RE: Clock work radio - Was it patentable

(OP)
bvanhiel and Theophilus,
Your advice is welcome. It strays from my original question, but strongly reiterates my reasons for asking it!
My real chalenge is to establish a market and a supply chain to service it. However, I feel that even a slightly cynical "Patent Pending" won't hinder my first task, which is to atract some investment.

Colin.

RE: Clock work radio - Was it patentable

CM:
File a provisional patent ( about $400.-, no lawyer )
It gives "P.Pending " for 1 year- bargain !!!

Plesae read FAQ240-1032
My WEB: <http://geocities.com/nbucska/>

RE: Clock work radio - Was it patentable

I just have a few comments.

Patentability

Remember, when you read an application, it may seem that there are 100 patents on a particular product, however, read the claims and determine exactly what they cover.  Moreover, a patentee can be their own lexicographer, so, read the claims in light of the specification, there you will find the true meaning of the invention because they can use their own definitions.   I will bet 99 out of 100 they do not cover the same product or method.   I really think examiners do their jobs correctly.


The provisional patent by nbucksa:

     You have basically just lost $100 (the filing fee) + your time spent.   Figure in a year you are going to have to file a non-provisional covering the same material.  Already you are $100 behind the person who just filed a non-provisional.  There is no reduced standard for non-provisionals, only that they do not need claims for priority.

    If you did include claims, then you should have just filed a non-provisional, if you did not include claims, you better hope that your specfication was adequate enough to cover the claims and any variations thereof, because otherwise you just lost your priority date in order to defeat any other prior art.   And another question, how can you adequately support your invention without drafting the claims first?  It makes no sense to me.   Maybe you can explain it.

    Generally, outside of the pharmaceutical industry, the provisional application should only be filed as emergency measure on the theory that a quickly thrown-together provisional application at the last minute is better than filing nothing at all

      I am just indicating that this application should be avoided by proper planning.   Moreover, you should really find out WHY the provisional was created before you use it, as it was not meant for the purpose you have used it for.

RE: Clock work radio - Was it patentable

Quote:

I will bet 99 out of 100 they do not cover the same product or method.

They indeed cover the same product, but not the same method.  There's more than one (or in this case 99) ways to skin a cat.  Patenting your unique way to skin a cat is profitless when you competitor can patent his own method.

-b

RE: Clock work radio - Was it patentable

A method patent only covers the method, not the product.   You can patent 100 different ways to skin a cat, but you are not protecting the skinned cat, just the method, so the patents are different.

RE: Clock work radio - Was it patentable

Any law can already be challenged.  Any person can already be sued for any reason.  Therefore any patent can be 1) challenged in court, or, 2) blatantly infringed upon, leaving you to pay lawyers to protect your idea.  

Response:

You are correct only that any patent can be challenged in court.   However, if properly drafted, and a thorough search made, that patent can be very strong.

Engineers are paid to create, why is it bad to pay a lawyer for drafting an application or a firefighter to put out fires?  A patent attorney spent years in law school reading case law on infringement and the like, and they draft applications according to the USPTO regulations and other caselaw.   I think it is a good idea to do price comparions, but why file a patent that is not going to be worth the paper it is printed on?

I pay an attorney to draft mine.   I am not going to spend the time to learn the law and make the arguments in trying to obtain the patent.  I follow the theory that you only need one qualified cook in the kitchen, no need to learn roofing to put a roof on your house or plumbing....you get the idea.  IMHO.


RE: Clock work radio - Was it patentable

Quote:

A method patent only covers the method, not the product.   You can patent 100 different ways to skin a cat, but you are not protecting the skinned cat, just the method, so the patents are different.

Agreed.  The patents were indeed different.  But they were all equally worthless.

-b

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