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Should (or can) I get a patent on an arduino based project? Answered

I really don't know if I should get a patent or even if my latest "invention" could be patented. This topic will be a bit specific to my project, sorry :(
I've posted an instructable of it here (vote it on the arduino contest while you're there!)

The first problem is that, almost everything in the project hasn't been invented by me. I didn't invent drums, nor the idea of hitting some sort box or drum to produce sounds, and most certainly not the arduino. Autonomous musical instruments or robot musicians are not new either. Both the electronics circuits and the code might be patented somehow, but anyone with the required skills and with an intention to ignore my patent, could achieve the same results as I did but with a different circuits/code. Which brings me to my second question:

Is this really something to worry about? is that common that people get their inventions stolen by big evil corporations? could you realistically win a legal battle against such corporation?... I've been checking a few videos and articles on this topic, including some written by instructables founder ewilhelm saying how he had never heard of this happening.

One thing that does worry me is someone taking my project and claiming it as their idea. But I think being featured on this site and on the arduino.cc site too, should be a safe way of claiming authorship.

Thanks.

Discussions

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liamduncan966byme

20 days ago

Ah that site arduino .cc. Google used to prevent me from logging in

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rickharris

23 days ago


IF your invention is commercial - the chinese are likely to copy it when it hits the market place - Ask yourself this: Are you able and willing to fight an international court case to protect your patent.

IF your patent is going to generate a LOT of potential cash - My choice would be make a prototype, get the patent and sell the idea to a commercial manufacture and let them worry about the chinese.

In general the patents that are worth protecting are for fundamental concepts rather than actual hardware - It;'s generally too easy to get round a patent by changing something a little..

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FrancoMolinarickharris

Reply 22 days ago

Q: Are you able and willing to fight an international court case to protect your patent?
A: No, definitively not, hahah.
I think, as you and someone below said, if it is a commercial idea, an external commercial manufacture is a better solution, or a Kickstarter.
thanks!

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Downunder35m

Best Answer 4 weeks ago

For a circuit only very minor changes mean the patent is avoided.
Including all possible changes that still work including the various approaches to do similar requires someone with not just expert knowledge in circuits but also patent regulations and wordings.
After all you want it covered so it already requires an expert to understand it while keeping the real info limited enough to prevent a direct copy.
As for the code you can comile it instead of providing the source code, won't stop anyone from using it though.
In most cases I would tend to include a specific sound or short drum solo that is activated every time you tunr you device on.
With the code protected any copy would still be identified by your custom sound at the start.

IMHO patents are totally over rated.
Firstly several countries don't have any patent laws that acknowledge patents from other countries - like China.
Secondly patents are stolen more often then cars.
A more modern alternative that works often better and cheaper for the little guy is licensing.
Open Source allows everyone to use it freely.
Limitations can be made for commercial use or that changes or forks are not allowed.
Similar story for anything similar to what Instructables has in place.
You could limit your entire project to non-commercail use or include license terms, fees and such if someone would like to use it commercially.
All these options have their more or less obvious flaws though and none can really prevent the unauthorised use of your work.
Making a claim or even a court case to enforce what you intendet and pursue offenders can end up very costly.
Especiallly is the offeneder is located in Asia or Africa.
Imagine your entire creation is copied as it is by some chinaman and it ends on Ebay, wholesale websites and so on.
By the time you get aware of it the damage is already done.
By the time you managed to find the right lawyer you already struggle to keep track of amounts produced and sold without your consent.
And well, if said company has no problems wasting money on international lawyers your money runs out once your lawyer actually found the ones behind the problem.

If you are serious about your project consider platforms like Kickstarter for example.
You can present your thing, get people interested, offer limited amounts of manually created devices before the support allows you to start your own commercial product.
And with a real product and company behind it you have it far easier to protect your work.
Plus, if it is as good as you think it is you can make a lot of money quickly and retire early ;)

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FrancoMolinaDownunder35m

Answer 22 days ago

First of all, thank you for all this feedback.
I couldn't agree more with all you said, I think the idea of patents for one single "inventor" is a bit old fashioned also. It doesn't really works on an internet dominated era.
I didn't knew about China and some other countries patent laws, that is very unfortunate, and it makes the patent idea a bit more pointless (for me at least).
As you said, Kickstarter would be a valid alternative in case I wanted to turn my next project into a commercial product, for this last one, I think I'll stick to the licences.
Thanks again mate, nice projects on your profile btw.

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Josehf Murchison

4 weeks ago

Is it the foot switch or the drum cube?
Most inventions have parts like induction motors, resistors, capacitors, you didn't invent or can't be patented (open source parts) and you wouldn't want to patent every part that could be 10,000 patents for one toy.
I do my own copyrights and patents.
Patent first, it isn't very expensive, $200 filing fee in Canada entire cost all fees $1,250.
If you hire Invent help or someone else you can look forward to $10,000 and up.
I don't know US patent costs.