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Discussion Starter #1
Any of you attorneys out there - is it possible to patent a whole type of vehicle, or do I have to patent every component therein? How could I prevent someone from using the same general concept with different components? Thx.
 

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I think you can patent "a whole new type of vehicle," just like people was able to patent "e-commerce" as a whole new way of commerce. It probably need to be significantly different from current vehicles and you probably should talk to a patent lawyer.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
agent.5 said:
a whole new type of vehicle
That's what I've got. Came up with the idea a week ago, and I just now figured out how to make it work. I don't have to build a prototype to get a patent, do I?
 

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Steve, as long as it's not obvious, yes, you can patent an idea like you hint at, and no, you don't need a prototype. You just need good enough illustrations to illustrate your concept.

be sure to do a patent search first though...for a device such as a people mover, you'll find that people have been working on some very innovative and oddball contraptions for the past century. I don't want to say everything's already been thought of, because it hasn't, just that it's a hard field to innovate in (when looking at the larger perspective of types of vehicles).
 

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yes and no.

there are several key elements.

it can't be obvious. Matt already mentioned that. The combination can't already be disclosed/used/known.

Also when you're dealing w/ other parts (likely already patented), your patented vehicle may only be made w/ someone else's patented parts. That won't happen. They'll enforce their patent to keep you from using their parts. That will cause you to license from them, etc...

Maybe a "method" patent is more what you have in mind.
ie. a Method of making a vehicle?

There is hardly anything out there that won't draw an obviousness rejection from a patent examiner.

It may be better to get the patent on just the new/novel part OR the method to assemble the vehicle.

Vehicles just aren't obvious.

Obvious test - combine all the references in the field, if an expert in the field would think it's obvious having all the references in front of him, then it's obvious.

HOpe this helps, feel free to email me for more specific info.

No I'm not a patent lawyer. Yes in 9 months I will be.

Robert
 

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Just to add to what's already been said:

>> is it possible to patent a whole type of vehicle, or do I have
>> to patent every component therein?

You can patent the whole vehicle, and as long as the configuration is novel and non-obvious, you can get a patent. The problem is that anything that has ever been (a) done, or (b) published prior to your invention is "prior art". And the prior art doesn't have to have ever been built, or to have worked in order to make your invention unpatentable.

Patent applications have been rejected because of techniques illustrated in Donald Duck cartoons, and drawings of devices that were never built, and might not have worked if they were built.

That being said - you can almost always find SOMETHING patentable about whatever you're building, it's just often not what you really want.

>> How could I prevent someone from using the same
>> general concept with different components? Thx.

This is really hard unless you've come up with something that really has never been seen before. Very often, it is one of the components that turns out to really be the novel part of the invention. The good news is that if that part of the invention is what makes the configuration you're look at work, then a patent on that portion of the invention is good enough to protect your system, since your patent part is what is required to make the system work.

The more general the concept, the more likely it will be "obvious" or that the patent Examiner will find a reference that describes something that falls within the scope of what you want to claim in your patent application.

The best thing to do to start (as others have mentioned) is to do some searching on the patent office website. The patent search page is

www.uspto.gov/main/patents.htm

The tough part is that what you will probably most want to search are the figures, and you are pretty much limited to keyword searching.

Still - don't give up - it's not always easy (and it's never as quick as you'd like) but it is possible to get a useful patent, even in this day and age.

Good luck!

(Expected disclaimer - I actually am a patent lawyer, but because I don't represent you, you should take this as general information about patent law, and not holy writ or specific advice about your situation. There are a lot of details and caveats that I've simplified here. Once you've done some background searching, it may be worth your while to consult with a patent attorney for some basic advice on your specific situation, even if you intend to draft and file the patent yourself.)
 

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Steve,

First thing, write down your idea and seal it up tight and mail it to yourself. DO NOT OPEN IT!!

Government time stamp.

If you can get through the crap with the PTO, then you can pretty much patent anything..because they are mostly stupid. That's like mostly dead... but not all the way dead.
 

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You can patent just about anything and then sue companies that did not have the insight to patent everything. Gotta keep those lawyers wealthy. Welcome to the USofA!!!
 

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Regarding sending the invention inside a sealed envelope to yourself to prove your date of invention:

It doesn't hurt, but it really doesn't help. It is very easy to spoof this (the post office will usually deliver an unsealed envelope), and the document inside the envelope generally won't hold up as evidence if you ever need it to without some sort of additional witnesses, anyway.

There is an official invention date-stamping service from the Patent office. For $10, you can have your initial documents date stamped by the PTO. Details are on the website.

Better is to simply take your original invention documents (or a copy) and sign and date each page, with a witness present who then countersigns each page, writing "reviewed and understood" with each signature. Invention documents witnessed in this way stand up much better if questions of evidence ever come up.
 
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