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did i invent these?


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Mr. Biggundoctor,


"Close is good enough in many cases to get around a patent, as long as it is not a direct copy".

I respectfully disagree. A minor variation for a patented device etc. will most often fail to protect the infringer from a well written claim in an issued valid patent.

The patent claim is found at the back of the patent. Claims spell out the scope of the invention. They fence off what the invention is and what must be protected. Good claims will protect the invention from copiers. Courts will give those claims and the patent wide leeway. Especially so if the patent is a broad one for a very new concept.

Learning to draft claims takes 3 to 5 years of study and practice. It may look easy but it is deceptively not. (e.g. try to draft a wide claim for all possible cups & their variations. But the the only other prior (art), is a Viking drinking horn. And your claim should be wide enough to cover any other 'cup' that is not a drinking horn. If the claim does catch that drinking horn it is too wide and invalid.

A minor variation for an invention in that particular could very well be ruled to be an infringement. The penalties can be very costly and if the infringer is found to be reckless the assessed damages are multiplied by three. That is the treble damages rule.

Patent litigation is very costly.  Often ruinously so. Patent lawyers are both lawyers and technical people well trained in the area of the patent's technology. They usually have a law degree and either an engineering degree or several science degrees. Most are also registered agents. Therefor they are not cheap and patent costs can be high. I have experienced & also seen pharmaceutical companies that have lost infringement litigation swallowed up by the winning drug company. (the loser could not pay the court assessed  multi- million dollar awards.)

Minor variations will usually be found to be within the coverage of the patent's claims and thus an infringement. Courts usually will give pioneering inventions a very wide interpretation.

If that were not so: there would not be any use for patents for inventions. There would be no protection.

Inventors would be forced to protect their invention by trade secret.

A trade secret lasts forever until it is disclosed.

No one else would know how to make the invention, as long as it is not disclosed. And that can run for well more than a century. (look up the history of obstetrical forceps and several generations of the Chamberlain family of London, for a fascinating history. Also Barr's Leaks for stopping leakage in foundry molded machines etc.)

Borg Warner corporation made automatic transmissions. They did not disclose their technology nor know-how. Car manufacturers were forced to buy their transmissions from that company.

Obviously, items that can be reversed engineered are not suitable for protection by trade secret.

But many processes used in the steel wool industry were kept secret for many decades.

A patent on the other hand only lasts as long as the patent term, (usually 17 or 20 years). When it expires anyone can practice the disclosed invention described in that patent.

The forgoing discussion can help explain why patenting matters cost a lot of money.

Also, the yearly annuity fees  drive up the cost for patent holders.

There are ways to cut down those costs substantially.

But that discussion is well beyond the scope of this thread.

I suspect that some, here, might consider these comments a side issue and beyond the subject matter of this site.

It is time for me to relax by banging, and probably trashing, some hot iron.

Regards to all,


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RAZOR scooters took several copycats to court and out of the 12? only 4 were found in violation because they had directly copied the rear fender brake and the oval grip tape. The others that used hand brakes or other shaped grip tape were "only similar" and were free to continue. Then you have the Chinese that will knock off a product and if they get a cease and desist they just move onto another product. In many cases the cost involved with a patent are not worth the expense. If you are dealing with multi million or billion dollar items than probably yes, but for the average garage inventor no.

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Thank you Slag It's nice to get a lay handle on patents. The only previous experience I had was from the experiences of a friend and associate of my Father who was always inventing things and trying to patent them. At the time a person had to have a patent search done, even if they were available it wasn't so easy as looking something up. The other was my old coffee shop buddy Cruz. I learned a bit about how expensive it can be to get something patented and from Woody, Dad's friend I discovered how much it can cost to defend a patent.

Seems Woody almost always spent more defending his patents than he made. Cruz could just never seem to find anything with enough margin to make it worth seeking one. 

This led me to my approach to patents if I ever thought of something golden, get a good contract lawyer to write up as bullet proof a contract as possible and sell my idea for a %. Let someone else: finance and make the gizmo, fight infringements, market it, etc. etc. I'd like 3-5% please and I'm good.

Frosty The Lucky.

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Frosty, (a.k.a. "The Lucky").

Interesting information you have cited.

One of the more successful strategies for patenting an invention is to get the patent application written up and filed with the patent office.

You have one year to shop the invention around. All that to get a company interested in the invention.

The use of non disclosure agreement is vital during that time.

If you should find such interest then you should hire a licensing law specialist. ("licensing executive"). That professional will guide you in negotiations for the licensing or outright sale of your invention. That professional will do the negotiating and modification of their proffered contract. He/she will modify those clauses or indeed add some he/she drafts to the document.

Such an agent should be knowledgeable, in the area of technology of your invention, and know the royalty rates therein. 

Such an agent is almost mandatory. No layman nor general lawyer, knows much about this arcane area of the law.

Most practicing licensing executives have technical backgrounds (degrees etc.). are usually patent lawyers and also patent agents.

It is one of the most complicated areas of law. A real minefield. But one of the most fascinating and enjoyable areas of lay to practice in.

The cost of such an agent will usually be paid by the licensee. They will also pay for all the costs of filing and prosecuting patents applications(often world wide).

Should those applications proceed to issued patents the licensee will defend the invention against all infringers during the lifetime of the patent (s) The costs of that litigation will be their their expense not yours.

I have mentioned an anecdote a few threads ago about a large university using a general lawyer for negotiating and drafting the license for them. The estimated licensing royalties for the life of the patent should have been approximately 600 million dollars. The school only got 50 thousand dollars total. Why? Because that lawyer stipulated tonnage use of the chemical to calculate the royalty monies payable. He should have calculated it on each item sold. (using that invention).

So much for bargain price general lawyers.

So why does the inventor have one year within which to market his invention? That year is the time that most other patent offices will give that original date credit to the applicant, when he files in other countries. I.e. the date of the first patent application filing is on all applications.

That date is important for a situation where another party files an application for a similar invention. The first inventor to file an application wins, in most countries. Trust me such a situation has happened often in the past.

Please note well, this note and all previous notes are not exhaustive of patenting nor licensing. These notes cover some highlights of the subject. There are a lot of factors that have not been mentioned for the sake of brevity, time and space.

Such information on this subject are widely available. Especially since the advent of the internet. 

Let me mention one more bit of patenting detail. Most invent help and patent application assistance companies, that advertise, are fraudulent thieves.

One example is the now "deceased" Raymond Lee Organization. They took millions (?) of dollars from inventors. and they advertised in popular magazines for well more than 45 years.

The Attorneys General for New York State and California finally, sued them, won  the case, and put them out of business. They showed that during all that time the company only managed to get three inventions patented. No kidding.

What took the governments so long to prosecute the company is a mystery.

It's bedtime and I should be retiring for now.

I hope the readers got some information & entertainment from these posts.



p.s. Royalty rates will differ due to the subject matter of the patent. For example the majority of mechanical invention patents average rates of 2.5 to 3% royalty rates. Pharmaceutical patents usually get more. They average 10.5 to 12%  Some have earned as much as 15%. (rare and usually for blockbuster inventions).

p.p.s. Frosty, A good contract lawyer is not the lawyer you need.


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On 5/13/2018 at 9:08 PM, SLAG said:

p.p.s. Frosty, A good contract lawyer is not the lawyer you need.

Noted thank you. It's unknown territory for me. I have a couple lawyer friends I'd ask for references before I would've hired anybody. Now though I'll ask you it's your field. 

Now I have the who to ask covered all I need is a patentable idea that'll sell like hotcakes. :)

Frosty The Lucky.

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My college classmate Laura (also a classmate of the NASA wizard Paul) is a patent lawyer in DC and occasionally regales us with tales of clueless clients trying to take shortcuts for the sake of saving a few pennies, and of how much it costs them in the end. I think my favorite was the client who said, "Oh, I don't need to do a search for prior art; I just know that this is an original idea!"

And many tens of thousands of dollars later....

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  • 2 weeks later...

The crank goes back to several centuries B.C. in the form of the rotary grindstone where a top stone, often shaped like a bun, is rotated by a handle on a lower quern stone to grind grain into flour.  I'm not sure when the separate handle crank was first used but if you have seen a rotary motion to grind grain it seems a logical way to turn something.

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Yes, but the rotary quern certainly dates to late prehistory. The Romans later took it to extremes (as they did with so many things, really), enlarging it to the point that turning it four men walking around it and pushing on wooden bars like a capstan.

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They still sell the saddle querns at fleamarkets down here for grinding corn.  The Roman conical querns were amazing things. Interesting to trace technological growth through food (hence Farming) and clothing...(My wife know how many full time spinners/spinsters it takes to feed a horizontal loom as well as a vertical loom...)

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A little more research has shown that the Romans did have actual bent cranks and had water driven machines that require a rotary, cranked motion.

I have seen quern stones at Pompeii that are chest high and the hourglass shaped grinding stones that go onto them must have extended up to 7 or 8 feet high. 

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