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Old 02-29-2012, 12:07 PM
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Originally Posted by beenie View Post
Perhaps a hijack, but hopefully related enough to matter. I'm reading this with great interest. I have made a product that I could not find for my own use and I'm getting a LOT of interest from others to buy them. I'm talking about an item that will sell for about $10 each with several million potential customers. Is an item with such a low price worth the expense of getting a patent? I guess what I would like to see happen is for me to sell them and advertise them nationally and have one of the big boys buyh me out. Any advise?

With the usual disclaimers (I am not your lawyer, this is not legal advice, consult your own attorney, etc.), I have the following observations:

The item that you have described sounds fairly simple to make at a low cost, and appears to have a fairly large potential market. This actually sounds like a situation where someone may want to compete with you in that market.

The purpose of a patent, in this regard, is to prevent someone from making, using, selling, or offering for sale your product/process in the US, which may seem to fit the bill for preventing such competition. However, these rights are only conferred upon you by an issued patent – merely filing a patent application does not give you any enforceable rights that you can pursue against a competitor.

There are still further aspects that you should consider: just because your product/process did not previously exist, and people now want to buy it, does not mean that your product/process is necessarily patentable. Further, even if you filed a patent application now, it may be several years before you may see a patent resulting from the application, if at all. Even then, you would have to be committed to enforcing that patent against your competitor, in order to exercise your rights. The bottom line in all this, or course, is money – it will cost quite a bit to go through this process, whether you do it yourself or have someone do it for you.

In the end, it comes down to a business decision for you – are you willing to lay out the $$ to take the patent route and are you willing to lay out the $$ to enforce your rights down the road, if you even get those rights? Can you wait a long time for a patent, if any, to issue? Will your product/process be obsolete by then? Are there other ways in which your product/process can be accomplished or improved upon (notwithstanding cost/price)?

If you want some peace of mind, and at least something tangible to present to potential acquirers regarding your ownership of the product/process, you could consider filing a provisional patent application. For that, you would need to prepare a good description/drawings of your product/process and fill out a provisional coversheet for the USPTO. The provisional application costs $125 to file and, once filed, allows you to call your product/process “patent pending” – NOT “patented” - for a year. At that time, you would need to file a non-provisional application to proceed any further in the patent system.

Anyhow, you will note that these observations do not tell you what you should do, but just merely present that options that you can consider. The ultimate decision is up to you . . .

Good luck!