Forum home Commuter cycling forum Commuting chat

Question about patents

unscarredunscarred Posts: 208
edited November 2009 in Commuting chat
This is an attempt to access the hivemind, although 5:00pm on Friday is probably a bad time to do it.

Is there anyone on here who can give me practical advice about applying for a patent? I have a cycling related idea that I reckon could be successful. Won't go into detail here for obvious reasons!

I've already googled it, there's a lot of vague stuff out there and a lot of companies that want to "help" you, but I'd really like to hear from someone who has done it themselves, or been involved in it directly in some way.

Thanks
FCN 6 in the week on the shiny new single speed.

FCN 3 at the weekend - struggling to do it justice!

Posts

  • Go to a patent agent. Marks & Clark springs to mind; but google "patent agent" and you should be able to put together a list.

    Don't tell anyone anything about it, unless under terms (written) of confidentiality. To be patentable, the idea has to be new and not obvious from something someone else has invented.

    Be prepared to pay a lot (thousands) to get it registered, and then some more to maintain the registration with renewal payments.

    You may be better off hawking it around some manufacturers with a non disclosure agreement. Get them to buy it off you for a one off or a royalty stream; let them get it patented.
    Swim. Bike. Run. Yeah. That's what I used to do.

    Bike 1
    Bike 2-A
  • The RookieThe Rookie Posts: 27,802
    Its cheap to initially lodge a patent, but within set time periods you have to formalise it, that costs a lot more, and then you have to patent it worldside and that costs a LOT (Japan is dearest!).

    Simon
    Current steed - Whyte T129, 2013 frame, mongrel Revelations, Giant dropper, Stans S1 wheelset. 12, Magura Trail Sport brakes, 1x11. 12.8Kg
  • g00seg00se Posts: 2,221
    Another company to consider is IP21.

    It was a few years ago since I did this so it might be rust or out-of-date. But...

    What they will do it take a wedge of cash from you to apply for patent pending in different territories - Europe, US etc. This will last for 12 or 18 months depending on the territory. you have to renew after these periods.This will set you back a few thousand per period.

    Once that's underway, there will be an investigation looking for prior art patents. I can't recall if it's the agents that do this or the patent office. Any possible conflicts are lodged as part of the pending patent. if they find something that might be prior, you do not loose the patent pending bu it may be harder to apply for the full patent later.

    Patent pending is good for registering an idea - putting a marker down in case anyone else comes along and tries the same thing. However, you can only properly hold the patent or go after someone infringing the patent once it's granted fully.

    To grant a patent, you pay a one off amount to the patent offices iin the various territories to make it permanent. This also involves fully assessing any possible prior art that was discovered in the earlier process. If they believe prior patents exist, it can be refused and you loose all the cash. What some do is keep paying out for rolling patents pending and then but the patent fully in the territory concerned if they think someone has infringed.

    Also, in the future, if someone infringes your patent and it goes to court, they have the right to prove 'prior art' in case someone else had the idea but it wasn't patented. I think patents in the US are more authoritative, as court cases and prior art cost much more to prove.

    Anyway - best check with a patent company.
  • I work in the field. PM me if you want some friendly advice, but please don't tell me about the idea itself (see below)!!

    I'm assuming you are a potential private applicant (i.e. your idea, in your own time, thinking about applying for a patent as an individual).

    In the first instance, take a look at google patents or http://gb.espacenet.com/search97cgi/s97 ... N/home.hts

    The latter is the European patent office database. It is very comprehensive and covers patents published worldwide and is typically up to date to within the last couple of months. But its a devil to use. The former covers only US patents, but the interface is much friendlier.

    Your idea has to be new. If it has been published or otherwise disclosed in any way, anywhere, ever, in principle you can't get a patent for it. There was a famous case of an application for a "dog flap" (i.e. a cat flap for a dog) and it was held that a picture of a dog entering through a cat flap in the Beano anticipated the invention and rendered it unpatentable. Bum.

    You will be amazed at what some people have filed patents for and there is a good chance that someone will have thought of it already. But, hey, if it isn't new, you can stop worrying about it!!

    If you've googled and done some patent searching and you still think you have an invention, you can apply for a patent. But be warned, just because you can't find anything like your invention, it doesn't mean that a patent examiner with advanced search tools who searches for inventions for a living won't find something 18 months down the line.

    You file an application in the UK and wait a year before having to decide if you wish to seek protection elsewhere. What you do then gets fantastically complicated and potentially costly. This may hinder your rate of Wiggle purchases for a while.

    You can draft and file a patent application yourself. It costs a few hundred pounds to get a UK patent and only £30 to apply for one. So why bother spending a few thousand to have one professionally drafted?

    Well, there may be an effective patent document written by a private applicant, but no one has yet discovered it.

    Various advisory groups will tell you it is possible, but the resulting patent will be about as useful as a cornflake packet, without any cornflakes in it.

    There are firms all over the country, which can be easily found - www.cipa.org.uk have the definitive directory. As with solicitors, you will be able to have a preliminary chat/meeting free of charge (if not, then its not the right firm for you - some poo poo private applicants a bit.. althought there is a recession on...).

    Most attorneys should be able to deal with a mechanical widget, no matter what their technical background, and its perfectly reasonable to talk to, and discuss potential costs with, a few firms before committing.

    After the initial chat, its expensive, so you have to be very serious, quite comfortably off, or totally mad.

    Finally, don't tell anyone your invention, (particularly me) and certainly no one in the bike business. The principle is that if you have disclosed your invention in public (e.g. by posting it on an internet forum), in most countries, you can't then get a patent for it.

    Its all very harsh. We are all doomed.
  • emdeefemdeef Posts: 98
    I work as a patent searcher. You might like to read the material on the UK Intellectual Property Office website for a good introduction before you do anything else, see here:

    http://www.ipo.gov.uk/types/patent/p-applying.htm
  • emdeef wrote:
    I work as a patent searcher. You might like to read the material on the UK Intellectual Property Office website for a good introduction before you do anything else, see here:

    http://www.ipo.gov.uk/types/patent/p-applying.htm
    Don't listen to anything the UKIPO say. They are the enemies of inventors.

    (This is not true - but although there is some useful information at that link, there is also some fairly misleading information).
  • biondinobiondino Posts: 5,990
    Are you going to suggest which bits are misleading, AT, or just chuck a spanner in the works and sit back and watch the machinery grind to a halt to the detriment of the OP?
  • biondino wrote:
    Are you going to suggest which bits are misleading, AT, or just chuck a spanner in the works and sit back and watch the machinery grind to a halt to the detriment of the OP?
    Well, the bits suggesting that (a) you can draft a patent yourself and (b) that if it is terrible, or if the examiner objects to it, they'll help you amend it.

    That is an inherrent conflict of interest, and a patent examiner is no more qualified to practise as a patent attorney than a patent attorney is qualified to work as a patent examiner.

    There's also the patent searching pages - freedom to operate and patentability are very different things. So different in fact that its worth trying to explain to someone why. Correctly, UKPIO do not state that this is the case, but the distinction is not clearly made and could be material to someone's decision to invest in a patent.

    Also, an actual freedom to operate search typically runs to 5 figures. For the prices quoted, you'll get a list of documents. But what do they mean for you? If UKIPO simply hands them over and says, "good luck", that's bad. If they purport to be able to tell you if you have freedom to operate or not, that's bad.

    The same goes for searching for patentability, to a lesser extent. List of documents. Fine. Analysis of these? There's that conflict of interest thing again.

    Most of the links look okay, but I'm very nervous of helpful organisations which encourage you to rock up and tell them your invention and we'll go from there shall we. Some are great, but they don't necessarily advise you to get a solicitor or sufficiently caution against disclosure. Its not unknown for inventors to be advised to seek funding, the application for which contains the invention, the application for which is published as a case study or circulated to a load of universities or companies. D'Oh.

    The UKIPO pages are good for geting a basic idea of what a patent is and so forth. However, its a bit like taking medical advice from a pharmacist. They kind of know what they are talking about, but do they?
  • Brilliant stuff so far guys, exactly what I've been looking for. It's this personal experience that you don't get from the official sites, everyone just pushes the 'message' they want you to hear.

    Thanks for the warnings. The only person I have spoken to about this is my live-in girlfriend. I hope that doesn't counts as publishing. It's currently only in my head, not even written down anywhere.

    Yes, I am a potential private applicant. I will spend some time soon looking for similar patents as advised. TBH, my idea is so simple I'll be surprised if someone else hasn't come up with it before now.

    Let's assume it's genuinely a new idea. So, if I go to a patent attorney for this initial free-of-charge chat, what information am I likely to get out of them? Will I need to disclose the nature of my invention at that point? Are they just going to run through the process and tell me what their fees are?

    Next, this is soundling like a very expensive process, and to be honest I don't think I want to try and develop it myself. I'd be happy to sell or license the idea to someone else who can develop it and just take royalties or whatever. Has anyone got advice on how to do that. Written NDAs sound like a good idea, but how do I draft one? How do I find/approach manufacturers?
    FCN 6 in the week on the shiny new single speed.

    FCN 3 at the weekend - struggling to do it justice!
  • Getting commercial benefit out of a patent is just like getting commercial benefit out of any business venture - it takes work. I have tremendous admiration for the people who try. There is no marketplace for inventions ready for companies to buy and take forward and make you money. (Well, I suppose there might be, but what is a small percentage of hardly anything? - answer; a royalty)

    It sounds to me as though you should (1) look for earlier patents, or anything else that might anticipate your invention and (2) take some general commercial advice and figure out if you have the commitment to even think about commercializing a technology.

    If you do go and see a patent attorney, communications are confidential. I can't promise that all firms will give you any time for free, but its in the code of practice, so they should. You should get some feedback on whether or not, in principle and allowing for any prior art, your idea is patentable. You should also get some feedback on costs - but beware if you are at a very very early stage, you may be pointed in the direction of another firm (meaning they don't want to take on the work).

    In terms of trying to take things forward without any IP - tricky, and a little outside of what I do now. I did try to do this for a while for a university, and it was hard enough "selling" possible IP backed by expertise, infrastructure and R&D funding.

    There are funding sources for SME's through regional development agencies, but very few, or none of these 100% fund projects. As I say, those links to the RDA's on the UKIPO website are helpful.

    To even get a sounding from your target marketplace, some businesses and universities prepare "non-confidential disclosures" - enough information to be of interest, but insufficient to disclose your invention. This is perilous stuff. Particularly if something is elegant and simple, disclosing the problem to be solved and broadly what the solution would look like, is liable to help someone else think of it. At the very least you should ensure that an attorney looks at the proposed disclosure and assesses whether or not it would prevent you from later patenting the underlying idea.

    It is something of a Catch 22, I'lll agree.
  • spen666spen666 Posts: 17,709
    unscarred wrote:
    This is an attempt to access the hivemind, although 5:00pm on Friday is probably a bad time to do it.

    Is there anyone on here who can give me practical advice about applying for a patent? I have a cycling related idea that I reckon could be successful. Won't go into detail here for obvious reasons!
    I've already googled it, there's a lot of vague stuff out there and a lot of companies that want to "help" you, but I'd really like to hear from someone who has done it themselves, or been involved in it directly in some way.

    Thanks

    IIRC you can't patent an idea, youhave to patent a product
    Want to know the Spen666 behind the posts?
    Then read MY BLOG @ http://www.pebennett.com

    Twittering @spen_666
  • http://www.trevorbaylisbrands.com/

    I'm sure you've googled everything but, is this any help ?
    FCN 11, Hmmm
  • emdeefemdeef Posts: 98
    Unscarred, if you want to search patent documents on free databases you are a bit limited. You can search full text of US patents and published applications using Google patents, and I suggest that you also try Espacenet. As AT said, the search options are a bit rubbish, and you can only search the text of abstracts, and then only for some cases, but one way you can improve precision is by using the European Classification terms. This is a hierarchical classification system used by examiners at the European Patent Office. Without knowing what your idea is it is impossible to tell if this will be of use, but to give you an idea, have a look at this page:

    http://v3.espacenet.com/eclasrch?ECLA=/ ... 62/b62.htm

    B62 is the class for wheeled vehicles, and below are subclasses B62H to B62M which cover different aspects of bicycles. You can expand successive branches of the hierarchy. If you find a classification term of use, you can use the "Advanced search" option at the top left (make sure "Worldwide" is selected in the database selection box), and enter the term in the "European Classification (ECLA)" box. You can combine it with keywords entered in the "Keyword(s) in title or abstract" box. You can also combine two different classmarks which is sometimes of use. For example, see the Revolution Vision LED seatpost featured on the Bikeradar Bikes and Gear section at the moment. I used the classmark covering rear lights ( B62J6/04 ) and the one covering seat pillars ( B62J1/08 ) combined as search term:

    B62J6/04 and B62J1/08

    in the ECLA box and it gives me 4 hits, the third one of which is a US published application US 2008/0192497 "Warning light device of a bicycle" which looks relevant:

    http://v3.espacenet.com/publicationDeta ... 97A1&KC=A1

    As I say, this is only sometimes of use. Sometimes there are too many cases in the classmark to be useful. Also, if the idea is more peripheral to cycles it will be classified somewhere else.
  • spen666 wrote:
    unscarred wrote:
    This is an attempt to access the hivemind, although 5:00pm on Friday is probably a bad time to do it.

    Is there anyone on here who can give me practical advice about applying for a patent? I have a cycling related idea that I reckon could be successful. Won't go into detail here for obvious reasons!
    I've already googled it, there's a lot of vague stuff out there and a lot of companies that want to "help" you, but I'd really like to hear from someone who has done it themselves, or been involved in it directly in some way.

    Thanks

    IIRC you can't patent an idea, youhave to patent a product
    :D You'll have to defer to me on this one Spen. You can patent an idea. That's the whole point. But you have to provide an enabling disclosure- information sufficient for a skilled person to put the invention into effect.
  • gtvlussogtvlusso Posts: 5,112
    Yeah - I hate my Parents too.....
  • Thanks for all your advice, it may be useful one day, but not today:

    http://www.bikeradar.com/gear/category/ ... t-10-35388
    FCN 6 in the week on the shiny new single speed.

    FCN 3 at the weekend - struggling to do it justice!
  • unscarred wrote:
    Thanks for all your advice, it may be useful one day, but not today:

    http://www.bikeradar.com/gear/category/ ... t-10-35388
    :D
    Not sure it would have been patentable anyway. Maybe, but on the other hand, a spatula with a bottle opener at one end is new, but not an invention.
  • If you are going down the patent route.
    Think about what will happen if you get a patent.
    If the idea is a good idea others will want to nick it so you have to be able to defend it.
    A patent layer once said to me that the best line you could put on a letter was “we carry patent litigation insurance”.
    Out of all the people I know who have patents only one has made money out of it.
    One got a first class degree for patenting his final project (cost £80) the mere fact of patenting it enhanced its status. I didn’t think it was worthwhile.
    Conventional wisdom is to take a provisional patent out then get to the market and hopefully generate enough profit to make a full patent worthwhile.
    Racing is rubbish you can\'t relax and enjoy it- because some censored is always trying to get past.
  • If you are going down the patent route.
    Think about what will happen if you get a patent.
    If the idea is a good idea others will want to nick it so you have to be able to defend it.
    A patent layer once said to me that the best line you could put on a letter was “we carry patent litigation insurance”.
    Out of all the people I know who have patents only one has made money out of it.
    One got a first class degree for patenting his final project (cost £80) the mere fact of patenting it enhanced its status. I didn’t think it was worthwhile.
    Conventional wisdom is to take a provisional patent out then get to the market and hopefully generate enough profit to make a full patent worthwhile.
    There's no such thing as a provisional UK patent, or a provisional UK patent application.

    You apply. It takes years, there are lots of options. You may end up with a patent.

    The best line to put on any goods are "UK Patent Application No. ########" or "UK Patent No. #########".
Sign In or Register to comment.