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Author Topic: Ideas vs. Inventions  (Read 2716 times)
app103
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« on: November 24, 2007, 09:16:58 AM »

I was recently contacted by someone and asked how to patent an idea. He was quite upset when I told him that you can't, that you can only patent an implementation of an idea...an invention. He didn't want to believe me, saying lots of companies do it every day and get rich off of those ideas. (he wants to get rich too)

He has a lot to learn, beginning with what the difference is between an idea and an implementation of an idea.

He, just like many, also has everything backwards in his head, thinking you come up with a great idea, rush to make something, then go get it patented before someone steals your idea. That's not how it works, not at all.

That would be like rushing to create a solution to a problem without knowing what the problem really is, then go look for a problem your solution works for to try to sell your invention, rather than coming up a great way to solve a known existing problem...the best way possible to solve that problem, taking your time to do it well, revising it and making it better till it is the best it can be, then patent it, market it, and sell that solution to people that already want it. (kind of how the coding snacks here work)

There are a gazillion inventions every year and the patent office is overloaded with some of the worst stuff you have ever seen...silly stuff...poorly designed stuff, all in the hopes of getting rich. Most inventions never make a dime and have cost their inventors a fortune by the time they have finished and given up.

I went in search of some good reading material for this guy, since he wasn't going to take my word for it when I told him he was going about it all wrong, and found this fantastic article that will explain in greater detail what the invention process is really about. I figured I would share it and possibly save someone a lot of money & heartache in the process.

Just remember this: Real inventors create solutions to problems, they don't dream up crazy ideas. That's what dreamers do. Real inventors are thinkers, problem solvers...not dreamers.



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Ralf Maximus
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« Reply #1 on: November 24, 2007, 12:46:14 PM »

Good post and food for thought.  I wonder: if you implement an idea badly is that enough for a patent?

Sure, my laser-powered mousetrap doesn't actually catch any mice, but as soon as I figure out how to power a terrawatt laser from a pair of AA batteries, we'll be in business.  Time to hire a patent attorney?

Also, a patent only protects a specific methodology or approach.  Thus if somebody observes me testing my laser mousetrap and invents one using their own design, a patent would not protect me.  Right?

Otherwise software companies wouldn't be able to get away with emulators, and Apple would charge me a fee for dropping files in the Windows recycle bin... right?
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app103
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« Reply #2 on: November 25, 2007, 02:42:49 AM »

I would hold off on getting a patent on a bad design...that was what part of my point was.

Rather than trying to patent a laser powered mousetrap, work on it some more and then patent the method of safely and reliably powering a terrawatt laser from a pair of AA batteries. 

THAT patent would be more valuable than the one for the mousetrap. You could license the technology to defense contracting companies and any other industry that would need a high powered laser with a very tiny cheap portable power source.  Grin

And you are right...just because you have designed one solution and patented it doesn't stop anybody from designing a better solution to the same problem and getting their own patent. This is why you should carefully think it through and try to make the design for yours the best it can be, rather than something just slapped together in a rush to patent your 'idea', since it's the designed solution and not the idea that needs protection. Just make sure the solution is for a real problem, first.
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