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Oct 12

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A few weeks ago an inventor told me that he was checking into the cost of manufacturing before having his patent search reviewed.  This was a bit out of order but not a huge issue.  You want to understand the costs involved before jumping off the cliff. 

However, I found out later that the inventor had gone ahead with a rather large order before having the search reviewed and patent done.  This is not a fatal inventing mistake but it can certainly be an expensive one.

There can be several problems with manufacturing first.  They are:

 

  1. You may be making a design mistake that could have been caught with the search review (older patents often reveal bad designs).
  2. You may be infringing on other prior art that would have been revealed with the review.  In this case, you risk eventually receiving a “cease and desist” letter notifying you of the prior art and demanding that you cease selling your invention. Then, entire investment will have been wasted.
  3. If your patent attorney determines that you can file a patent but the first design either has flaws or infringes on prior art, you will end up paying for additional design work, new molds or tooling, and more manufacturing.

If you are going to bet your financial future on a new idea, it is in your best interest to do it right.  Make sure you do your homework beforehand.

Oct 12

Inventors frequently tell me that they were advised by one source or another that an international patent search is not necessary if they don’t plan to sell outside of the US. 

I would like all inventors to understand that an international search is a critical part of all GOOD Patent Searches.  If something has been patented anywhere in the world at any time in history, you will not be granted a U.S. patent.  If the product was not patented but available to the public, it is considered part of the public domain and, again, you will not be granted a U.S. patent.

For example, I had a client who was trying to patent a type of metal hinged glove.  There was no prior art (previously granted patents), but there was evidence of metal hinged gloves in history (in fact, ancient history – i.e., “knights in shining armor”).  Because of the introduction of the metal hinged glove in the medieval times, the concept of the hinged glove had become part of the public domain and thus could not be patented.  The “knights in shining armor” were never even in the U.S.  But it doesn’t matter! 

We frequently find similar products patented in other countries.  In order to make good business decisions, you need a patent search that includes the international search even if you don’t plan to manufacture or sell outside of the U.S.