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NewBreed

Should I patent?

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Hi there, I've been holding up a part-time for the past three 1/2 years, while I've been working on a certain technology. I'm not saying what it is, but it has the potential to change the face of the graphics industry. Note, I said graphics... not just the gaming industry. There are 3 different components to this. I've got two of the components finalised, and the third one is well on the way. I have had a private investor to fund the project. The third component has taken most of the time and 99% of the funding! There is only me developing this technology and after much searching there are no patents etc... that even come close to this tech. The investor doesn't know nor care how the technology gets the results, but he's just interested in the results he keeps getting. However here's my dilemma, the way the technology works means that if anybody used the idea/technology (although it would have to be a faily large company for the funds etc...) I wouldn't have a clue, unless I reversed engineered their product! (Catch 22 here I think. ;)). However if I don't patent it, then somebody else may come along and patent it and then I can't really use it, but the same applies there as if I patented it, it would be next to impossible to find out if I was the one using it! I fully understand that by rights I should (and I intend to) be talking to some IP consultant, however that won't be for a few months down the line once the 3rd component is complete and I just want some peoples thoughts who may have had experience in this sort of dilemma. Also, I'm sure the above situation is a similar thing to a few software ideas. What is done in those cases, and how can the patent holder even find out if some developer is actually infringing? Thanks alot! :) NB.

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first of all, if you record your creation in an acceptable way ... you cannot loose for patent infrginment on someone elses FUTURE patent ... because prior art is always a defeat of a patent, period. Of course you have to be able to prove your creations date to a court of law.

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Hmm, okay. So maybe some official body to witness/signature etc.. that the technology has been completed on date X?

Also, is there any benefit to getting a US patent/UK patent or any other patent, as surely one patent should cover all countries, or would I have to seek a patent in every country to prevent a developer stealing it?

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Quote:
Original post by NewBreed
Also, is there any benefit to getting a US patent/UK patent or any other patent, as surely one patent should cover all countries, or would I have to seek a patent in every country to prevent a developer stealing it?


Patents are region-specific.

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I've sent half-developed papers to a lawyer to store in my file before, which counts as prior art. I'm sure you can find someone who is willing to hold a file for you and print / store things in it for a very reasonable sum.

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It costs on average US$20K to have a patent issued, all costs included. It may easily cost 10x more annually just to actively seek and bring infringers to court, often more. If your projected revenue stream is - say - 100x the cost of protecting your IP then by all means patent the thing!

Otherwise, you have to rely on trade secret (aka NDA, exclusivity clauses, non-compete clauses, etc). Trade secret allows you to protect your IP from who you share your secret with; it doesn't protect you from someone independently discovering the same invention though. That's what patents are for. But trade secrets are cheaper to put in place and enforce in many cases.

-cb

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NewB wrote:
>There are 3 different components to this. I've got two of the components finalised, and the third one is well on the way. I have had a private investor to fund the project.

Wow, good for you! (More power to ya.)

>However here's my dilemma, the way the technology works means that if anybody used the idea/technology (although it would have to be a faily large company for the funds etc...) I wouldn't have a clue, unless I reversed engineered their product!

That doesn't stop most folks. Look, if you can afford to patent your invention, do it. Then when you think somebody has probably violated your patent rights, you'll be able to get the money to reverse-engineer it (based on potential lawsuit profits).

To repeat: IF YOU CAN PATENT IT, DO IT.

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In the United States specifically,

An invention cannot be patented if: “(a) the invention was known or used by others in this country, or patented or described in a printed publication in this or a foreign country, before the invention thereof by the applicant for patent,” or “(b) the invention was patented or described in a printed publication in this or a foreign country or in public use or on sale in this country more than one year prior to the application for patent in the United States . . .”

In other words, you have up to one year from first offering it to the public to file for the patent.


Your question, "Should I patent?" is something only you can answer.

From the business side, a patent portfolio, defending, and enforcing patents can possibly cause major financial problems. If you have enough patents, cross-licensing can be a good thing as a business. From a career perspective, many big corporations have a slight preference to professionals who have created patents before.

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Thanks everybody for your comments, they're quite helpful! :) Perhaps within 2-4 years or so maybe you'll know about it! Thanks for your time.

NB

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A guide from the UK patent office: here (pops)

The main difference is that if you make your invention public before filing, you may not be able to patent it in the UK. (see page 3 of the above document)

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