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Invention without a patent, what happens if someone steals it??

Ok, I've got a really cool invention. My oldest boy came up with the idea like 6 years ago. I can't afford to patent it. If I used the idea in an instructable, would the date on the ible help prove that the idea was ours? (Or would it just prove how stupid I am by letting the "cat out of the bag"?) I don't mind other people making their own, that's what Ibles are about. I just don't want someone to run patent it, and then commercialize it unfairly.

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An USPTO is only $65.

AmyInNH1 year ago

Ideas/products/processes in a public forum can't be patented. So if someone came after you, you'd have to show the idea was already public before their patent was applied for, and therefore shouldn't have been granted a patent.

Patenting reserves your right to solely produce it commercially for x number of years, given you maintain the patent for the full measure of years (3 payments over 20 years). Cat out of the bag only applies if you wanted to reserve the idea for solely your commercial use. Once unpatented and public, anyone can use it, including using it for commercial purposes.

you could... just change the license and post it! do what eric says let the EVIL MEGA CORPORATION take the idea... at least you can have the pride in knowing that your own son came up with such a great idea that others became jealous... plus, you can have your own anyways...
Kiteman8 years ago
If the invention is that good, a patent would be a good idea. OK, it's hundreds of dollars, but compare that to any potential profit over the life-time of the product.

Personally, I would see if the US Patent Office could offer advice, or point you towards a lawyer who could help.

Even a "normal" lawyer could give you some advice. Maybe they could draft a non-disclosure agreement so that you could safely show your idea to potential manufacturers, and then you could enter into an agreement with a suitable manufacturer, although you may have to give up some of the rights to your idea.
skunkbait (author)  Kiteman8 years ago
Yep, I was thinking it was more like several THOUSAND. I've used the non-disclosure statement before (effectively), but.... I may try to approach the patent office. If I could get it for less than $1000, I can come up with that. But if I have to pay a lawyer several thousand, I'd starve before the returns seeped in.
If you have a friend who's a lawyer or even a decent relationship with your lawyer then you might be able to get a drafted up NDA in return for promising to sue them if your children commit crimes...
You may wish to make sure they don't commit crimes and get caught, otherwise you may still starve...
well THE MAN won't find out if they're out in the woods...
Ian M8 years ago
I don't quite understand the requirement that people don't "commercialize it unfairly," but if you publish it, nobody else can claim a patent for it. On the other hand that won't stop them from manufacturing or selling it if you haven't patented it. Personally, I would recommend not patenting it, just because it's a hassle and I don't think it's worthwhile to stop people from commercializing an idea. Unless you're going to commercialize the idea, then go for it.
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