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Patents a few questions

  1. Mar 19, 2005 #1
    Ok so I have an idea I want to patent (obviously...and no I won't say what it is lol). So I have a few questions:

    1) I'm a Canadian resident, if I patent in Canada will I need to patent in places like the U.S. and the U.K. or will I be covered?
    2) What are Canadian fees? I can't seem to find them..if no one knows that's ok.
    3) Now I read somewhere that when submitting a patent the measurements of the application, and building processes, etc, have to be the EXACT measurements. Now what if this can be made in a few ways, and in a few different sizes, how would I manage that?
     
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  3. Mar 19, 2005 #2

    Moonbear

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    First, I would highly recommend you get a good patent attorney. A poorly written patent is essentially useless.

    You do need to patent your invention in every country where you want to be covered. I don't know how this is done from the Canadian side. From the U.S., you can file one form and check off boxes of all the countries where you want protection to file in all those countries.

    I don't know the fees, though these can also vary once you've begun the process, such as if you can't get something together for a particular deadline, often for an added fee, you can extend a deadline to a certain extent (at least in the US).

    As for sizes, etc., this is where a good patent attorney comes in most useful. They will make sure you meet the application requirements while protecting the full range of your patent, such as by specifying the range of measurements that apply for each dimension and how they can be combined, etc. Even if you have to pay a consultation fee, it will be worthwhile just to find out before you get too far into the process if the idea truly is patentable. Part of their job is to do the search for prior art, so they may dig up a previous patent that already covers the idea. While it will cost you some to find this out, it's cheaper than going through the entire process and having a patent examiner tell you the same thing.
     
  4. Mar 19, 2005 #3

    Ivan Seeking

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    That's one reason why its very difficult to protect yourself with a patent. In the US we have pioneering patents that protect a concept, and not just a single device that has been manufactured in a specific manner, but these are rare and usually don't apply.

    In many cases patents are a complete waste of time. You usually hope for a patent worthy critical part that is needed in order for the technology to work...some kind of critical widget unique to the process or machine. Also, the more complex something is, the less protection a patent can usually offer. Something like the hula-hoop was ideal. It is hard to change a hula-hoop much and still have a hoop, so the patent was pretty strong.

    The big draw back about patents: You have to tell everyone else exactly what you did. There is an Oregon company that is still here because they never patented anything. And no one has ever figured out how they do what they do.
     
  5. Mar 19, 2005 #4
    If protection in a foreign country is something that you need the foreign application must be filed within twelve months of the Canadian filing date. If this is done, protection in that foreign jurisdiction will be retroactive to the Canadian filing date.
    [ called "priority filing" under the Paris Convention]
    The fees can run from 400 to 800 dollars depending on the type of patent.
    And yes ..get professional help.
     
  6. Mar 19, 2005 #5
    awesome, thanks for your help guys!
     
  7. Mar 20, 2005 #6

    Ivan Seeking

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    Since I'm burning up so much time on PF today...

    I thought this was interesting. One of my engineering projects demanded a specific type of timing belt. The final length was a bit arbitrary, but one ideal value finally resulted from numerous other design choices. When I went to order the belt, it turned out that the exact pitch and tooth count required for my project [and only that belt, no other sizes] was protected by a patent. Apparently this was used to protect some obscure machine design and no one else could produce that particular size belt. Of course I had to go back and calculate all new values so that a different length belt would work.
     
  8. Mar 20, 2005 #7

    brewnog

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    I'd like to add that instead of filing a patent in every individual country in which you want your idea protected, it is possible to file a worldwide patent, although it's more difficult (and expensive).
     
  9. Mar 20, 2005 #8
    Wow Ivan..that kinda sucks.

    Does anyone have information on pioneering patents? I know its obscure and unlikely but I'd still like to know what they are, and I can't seem to find much.
     
  10. Apr 8, 2005 #9

    Ivan Seeking

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    Court Denies Smuckers PB&J Patent

    This story struck me as a nice example of how risky and tedious patent protection can be.

    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,152896,00.html

    In order to protect the entire concept of a ready made pbj, Smuckers tried to argue that the crimping required was unique. They may have invested millions in trying to solve this problem. And since they felt that this would protect them, the solution is probably critical to the marketing concept; for all the good it did them.
     
  11. Apr 8, 2005 #10

    Moonbear

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    On the other hand, it doesn't mean they can't sell them, just that they'll have competition selling the same product. Though the other brands can't use Smucker jam, now can they?

    When I first heard about this, I had the same thought I have now...who is so lazy they need to buy a pre-made PB&J anyway?
     
  12. Apr 8, 2005 #11

    Evo

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    Apparently a lot of people. :bugeye: I can't believe they tried to patent crustless PB&J sandwiches. I saw suggestions in women's magazines years ago to use ravioli cutters to trim the crust off sandwiches. What they're doing is truly no different. The cutters seal the edge of the sandwich. Some housewife in Boise, Idaho probably came up with the idea 30 years ago.

    I actually knew someone that had 8 (probably more now) US Patents. He's an inventor for HP. Of course HP processes the patents, but he has nifty certificates naming him, so he is credited. And he's a physicist! And he lives in Oregon! :tongue2:
     
  13. Apr 8, 2005 #12

    Ivan Seeking

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    Re Moonbear: Sure, they can still sell the product, and they have a jump on the market, but it sounds like they were banking on exclusive manufacturing rights that could be sold. Depending on the specifics of all of this which I know nothing about, but considering other examples over the years, this entire effort may well net as a loss for Smuckers.
     
  14. Apr 8, 2005 #13

    Ivan Seeking

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    adder: I have been involved in a lot of this sort of development. Manufacturing processes like this can be very expensive to those who dare to risk the investment. I have seen product concepts like this refused by very large companies because it was just too difficult and expensive to do. So they wait for someone else to fall on the sword.

    I could tell you peanut butter horror stories... :biggrin:
     
  15. Apr 8, 2005 #14

    Danger

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    I had to look into this last year. There is a company in Calgary called Invention Development Group, who bill themselves popularly as 'the Patent Guys'. Despite that, they know what they're doing. Although I couldn't afford the $1200 fee, they did tell me one thing that might be useful to you in the beginning. If you file as a US patent, it's rubber-stamped in Canada. The opposite most definitely isn't the case.
     
  16. Apr 8, 2005 #15

    Doesn't Integral work for HP?
     
  17. Apr 8, 2005 #16

    Evo

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    Does he? It's not him though.
     
  18. Apr 8, 2005 #17

    Sadness is me
     
  19. Apr 8, 2005 #18
    The patent system is in need of some serious reform. As others have mentioned, the fact that "ideas" like crustless PB&J sandwiches can be patented makes it look like the patent office is run by a bunch of buffoons. Another good example is all the software patents that get passed nowadays, like Amazon's "One click shopping" patent (not sure what happened with that one) Software ideas are easy to come up with. The hard part is the implementaton. Could you imagine if Altavista or Yahoo patented the concept of a web search? We probably wouldn't have Google if that had happened.

    The primary purpose of the patent system was NOT for the enrichment of inventors. It was to urge people to disclose their inventions so that others could build upon the idea, and society could benefit. The alternative was to keep everything secret. Nowadays, I believe the patent system is pretty counterproductive in that it actually DISCOURAGES alot of people from implementing new ideas.

    As for filing fees, I believe in the U.S. they are minimum of $5 K, and thats not including attorney's fees, though I could be wrong. Its a ridiculous system that seeks to enrich a bunch of lawyers (my sister-in-law included!) and large corporations who can file huge amounts of patents in the hope that someone in the future will actually find a way to make money off of it.

    I'm not opposed to patents a priori; for things like drugs they are pretty indispensable, but the system is in need of an overhaul. For one, I believe that the fees should be more in line with the copyright office (< $100), and there shouldn't be any patent examiners, and that everything should be decided in the courts. This would do away with a good chunk of patent lawyers who craft the patent with a bunch of indecipherable legalese in order to make the idea sound novel, and examiners who don't seem to have common sense.
     
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