capitalizing on ideas

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by strantor, Feb 16, 2011.

  1. strantor

    Thread Starter AAC Fanatic!

    Oct 3, 2010
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    This actually probably going to be 3 questions once I'm done typing. First off, I read this post about not getting patents for your Ideas. It seems that until now I have been one of the naives that think you just patent an idea and then it's yours and it's safe.

    I was originally searching for info on getting patents because I have a prototype that I have made and I think it's got a good chance of being a good seller. There is a problem, though; it wasn't my idea. I brought an AVR chip to work and was explaining to a coworker what it is, the endless potential for what it can do, etc. He said "Hey, do you think you could use one of them things to control a _______?" and I said "Yeah, I bet it could." He seemed interested in it so I had him order an arduino to get started. When he got it, he seemed more inclined to ask me a ton of stupid questions (I use the word stupid because most of the questions I was able to show him the answer simply by googling his question word for word.) He wasn't keen on learning for himself, he just wanted me to get impatient and do it for him; which is exactly what I did. I designed the circuit for him, drew it all out, gave him the part #s of things he needed, wrote the program for him. The only thing he did was have a light bulb go off in his head and solder the prototype board together per my drawing (badly, and not quite per my drawing; I had to redo it).

    He has the prototype now, been using for a few months now since I made it, and it works better than either of us expected. So now I got to thinking that maybe there's money in this and I don't know what to do. I have a second prototype here that's way more advanced.

    So, my questions:
    1.A. If I were to produce and sell this as a product, would I legally owe him anything for originally conceiving the idea?

    1.B. In your own opinion, (assuming I do end up making money off the thing) would it be morally right to try to cut him out? I DO have a conscience, and my conscience tells me that I do owe him a little bit. The logical side of my head argues though that if I offer him anything less than half, he will feel that I owe him more & there will be hard feelings (possibly more than just feelings) between us despite the fact that I tried to do the right thing. If he had put forth more of an effort to be a part of the thing's creation then I might feel more inclined to consider him a business partner, but his level of involvement was really pathetic. I'm thinking maybe it would be better just to keep it from him.

    2. So, assuming I'm not getting a patent, just going to make this thing and put my name on it and go try to sell it at conventions and online and whatnot, should I put a copyright symbol on it or what?

    3. A family member told me that I need to do a "poor mans patent" where I send blueprints/description to myself and family and attorney. Is that really necessary if a patent is even necessary?
     
  2. loosewire

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 25, 2008
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    Look at the Face page deal,it it work out good the
    parties and there attorneys will come after you.
    If it good it has to be your and prove it. Its true in
    the past some devises have small changes and you
    get to use it. The patent office now have specialist
    to check for like ideas and can find reasons to
    reject your patent. In the tampa area they have a
    business that find things to adverise all nite till you
    buy one.

    P.S. Texas or Bust Is my thing are you near the Marshall area.
     
  3. beenthere

    Retired Moderator

    Apr 20, 2004
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    I'm stuck in an endless patent process because I do business with the USDA, and they simply patent everything and license to users/manufacturers. It is very tedious, with no guarantee of anything in the end (but they pick up the tab)

    You are in a bind. I would agree that pursuing a patent now means a lifetime of litigation. It will be all hearsay, as no agreement was signed, and you may not be able to claim the lion's share of the proceed.

    If you just make sure you have every document in a safe place to establish your efforts, you might see about marketing the thing. Anyone can reverse engineer the hardware, but the firmware might be your protection from having a duplicate show up under another name. At this point, the "self patent" might make more sense.

    Get a few more opinions before jumping in.
     
  4. loosewire

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 25, 2008
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    Most U.S.D.A. projects like to go thru universities that share the patent.
    They work with the county extention services that give public information
    to people on all types of thing.That why people hear about a study of some
    strange thing with tax payer money. The U.S.D.A. and A.R.S. fund alot of
    things that farmers want answers to. Protect the states from exoctic things
    that the public never hears about in there every day life.
     
  5. Wendy

    Moderator

    Mar 24, 2008
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    Does copywrite extend to machine code? Seems that may be safer if it does.
     
  6. shortbus

    AAC Fanatic!

    Sep 30, 2009
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    Look-up Tesla and Edison, Tesla and Westinghouse to see about patents and who benefited from them. Most companies if you invent something while working for them and for so many years after, they can claim the patents.
     
  7. Markd77

    Senior Member

    Sep 7, 2009
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    Even if you do get a patent, if it's worth enough money then someone will copy it. Then you have to take them to court which will cost a fortune.
    If it's small enough to slip under the radar then there isn't much point getting a patent.
     
  8. loosewire

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 25, 2008
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    Do a video of you doing your thing,then write a book on the the same subject.
    You will have two sources of income to depend on and it would be hard for some
    one to sell duplicate work. You could put it together on power point and select the
    items you most to make a statment about to complete a video or book. If you
    put yourself in the video that would be great protection,there only one of you.
     
  9. strantor

    Thread Starter AAC Fanatic!

    Oct 3, 2010
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    Yeah that's how it is where I work, but the contract that I signed had some legal speak regarding "if the inventions is applicable to the field in which you work, or if it could be used by a competitor". Considering I work in a cable manufacturing and my "invention" is for outdoor sports, I don't think it falls under their contact. I'm sure that if they wanted to, they could twist it to take my idea, but they wouldn't. I think it would look a little odd in their product lineup.

    edit: they have their own patent lawyer. If I were to make something that would directly benefit my company, I voluntarily handed it over to them, and their patent lawyer got a patent for it; Do you think that the patent would have my name on it, or just the company's?
     
  10. t06afre

    AAC Fanatic!

    May 11, 2009
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    A patent has both an inventor and owner sections. So you can be credited as the inventor. And your company can stay as owner. If your company sells the patent. You will still be credited as inventor.
    One aspect that has not been mentioned so far in thread. If you make patent the invention will be public. For everyone to read about. The patent application will be a public document. Most often the only people getting some profit out of a patent is the patent bureau.
     
  11. strantor

    Thread Starter AAC Fanatic!

    Oct 3, 2010
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    Yes, but I think it would be cool to have my name on a patent even if I wasn't the owner and even if I didn't make any money off of it. I could let my company' pay all the fees and their lawyer do all the footwork; then I just sit back and wait for the official title of 'inventor' to be bestowed on me. It would be something to brag about I guess.
     
  12. Papabravo

    Expert

    Feb 24, 2006
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    1. If he does not participate in forming and running the business then you owe him nothing. Ideas are worth less than a dime a bale in 10 bale lots.
    2. It costs you nothing to put a copyright notice in your code. Put it in for all the protection you think it might afford you. Decide now how much time and money and effort you're willing to spend to enforce your rights. If you gross $5000.00 year, how much of the take are you willing to spend on a lawyer who charges $350.00 per hour.
    3. Formulate a plan that allows you to exit the business if well heeled deep pocketed competition shows up.
     
  13. Papabravo

    Expert

    Feb 24, 2006
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    Would you rather be an inventor, or the CEO and chairman of a successful company? For me its a no brainer, I have two patents, but being the CEO was way more rewarding.
     
  14. strantor

    Thread Starter AAC Fanatic!

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    Truthfully I am not a leader type. I was placed in a leadership position in the military and while I was good at it, I didn't enjoy it. I am a technician now and I love my job. I don't aspire to one day take over my manager's role. I don't want his boss' job either, and so on, all the way up to the top. If I ever started a successful company, the first person I would probably hire is a managerial type person to run things for me while I go tinker in the lab. So, to answer your question I would rather be an inventor. What would be rewarding to me is to see people I've never met, using things that I invented.
     
  15. cumesoftware

    Senior Member

    Apr 27, 2007
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    1- You cannot patent ideas, only specific designs.
    2- You don't have ideas alone. Ideas are created while in society. If you were allowed to make money with your ideas, probably you would pay contributions to someone.
     
  16. shortbus

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    I worked in the same type of company, Delphi Packard Electric. There the patents were written as 'inventor(s)' and owned by the company. Inventors got a "award" and a small amount of the cost savings of the invention.
     
  17. Papabravo

    Expert

    Feb 24, 2006
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    Unfortunately you are setting yourself up to be taken advantage of. The problem is that you think and act like an inventor. It is like being a "mark" to a grifter. You absolutely have to stop thinking like and identifying yourself as an inventor. Mind you there is no problem with actually being an inventor, just find another way to present yourself to the public.
     
    strantor likes this.
  18. strantor

    Thread Starter AAC Fanatic!

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    Good tip there.
     
  19. loosewire

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    Apr 25, 2008
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    PROsent yourself to the public,sounds like I have heard that before.
    Its great to be a Humorist in public,when you are having fun and
    enjoying life,and maybe make some money, some day,some way.
     
  20. thatoneguy

    AAC Fanatic!

    Feb 19, 2009
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    Did the guy pay your for designing the circuit?

    If not, find a shop that will do mass production for you.

    You could go so far as having him sign a document stating that he did not create anything in the widget, he only followed your instructions. That only applies if he paid you. A lawyer could write that up for $200 and have him sign it and you'd be fine. Until China started copying it and selling it themselves. That WILL happen if the product is worth anything at all in the marketplace.
     
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