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Steal invention idea, not patented

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princesscrystal

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Was hoping to get your input on this. I stumbled upon an invention that is produced overseas (Asia). Its design is simple, but it is unique and therefore patentable (is that even a word lol?).

The thing is I am not the inventor. I checked and it doesn't seem to be patented in the US or Canada. Has anyone ever "stolen" an invention in this way and come back to the US to get the idea patented and then build it for sale in the US, Mexico, and Canada?

I also want to discuss the ethics of this. I think it is wrong, but I can also hear Kevin O'Leary tell me it is okay because I am being greedy. If I imagine it, Kevin O'Leary would go out of his way to do this because it is unethical, but not illegal, and he would claim it was just business at the end of the day. I want to be ethical, but I also desperately need to get out of the sidewalk and slowlane.
 

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but I can also hear Kevin O'Leary tell me it is okay because I am being greedy
I want to be ethical, but I also desperately need to get out of the sidewalk and slowlane.
Does not compute

So like, was it Kevin O'Leary that gave you the impression that you can't get out of the sidewalk/slowlane by being ethical?

On the matter of the invention well, you know. Can you live with that? Forget Kevin O'Leary . Can YOU go to sleep at night knowing you make money off someone elses idea? Knowing maybe at some point some dude journalist is actually gonna uncover it if you become famous enough? Then what?

Do you want to be the Edison to the Tesla? The Alexander Graham Bell?

Are you ok knowing the money you made was off the idea of someone else?

Can you just import it and brand it? I mean how much of an "invention" is it really? You're having such deep talk and stuff but we don't know the whole story, there are reasons why some things get patented and some don't. I feel there's a chance you could be talking about something that isn't worth a patent and that's why it might not be patented here, there's no market for it, etc etc. It's hard to tell just from hearing "invention => steal" I feel there could be more to it.

Go to the US patent website and read what the requirements are for something to qualify for a patent. Maybe you're overthinking it. And if you are, might as well just wholesale import it if there's a market for it and create a productocracy.
 
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princesscrystal

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Does not compute

So like, was it Kevin O'Leary that gave you the impression that you can't get out of the sidewalk/slowlane by being ethical?

On the matter of the invention well, you know. Can you live with that? Forget Kevin O'Leary . Can YOU go to sleep at night knowing you make money off someone elses idea? Knowing maybe at some point some dude journalist is actually gonna uncover it if you become famous enough? Then what?

Do you want to be the Edison to the Tesla? The Alexander Graham Bell?

Are you ok knowing the money you made was off the idea of someone else?

Can you just import it and brand it? I mean how much of an "invention" is it really? You're having such deep talk and stuff but we don't know the whole story, there are reasons why some things get patented and some don't. I feel there's a chance you could be talking about something that isn't worth a patent and that's why it might not be patented here, there's no market for it, etc etc. It's hard to tell just from hearing "invention => steal" I feel there could be more to it.

Go to the US patent website and read what the requirements are for something to qualify for a patent. Maybe you're overthinking it. And if you are, might as well just wholesale import it if there's a market for it and create a productocracy.
Thanks for the input. I don't want to be like Edison. That would really suck. I read the story of Tesla and it was really sad. The invention is the mechanism itself. In its raw form, it doesn't do much and will not gain traction. Some more manufacturing and a slight redesign must be redone first, then it must be reborn in a new form that still utilizes the original mechanism, but with the new form, it can gain traction.

As an example to illustrate, let's say someone just invented a rice cooker. I repackage it in a different shape, different material, different color scheme. Let's assume that rice cookers are common in Asia, but also assume that rice cookers don't exist in the US and I want to patent a rice cooker in this hypothetical example.
 

Lsm87

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This should work. A patent protects exactly from this. No patent, no protection, because no proof who was first. But patents and the follow up fees are expensive. And it has to be done for different regions of the world separately.

You can find products with the label “patent pending“, which is already a protection, because the patent process is in progress and the date of registration counts for a patent.

Maybe you had the idea for rice cookers 20 years ago, who knows without legal proof ...

You can also patent the design only, if the mechanism is common good.
 
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steelandchrome

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Can you do it? Yes. Should you do it? That's a question only you can answer.

If you are having ethical issues with it then maybe reach out to that manufacturer and ask them for exclusive rights for North American distribution for a small fee/royalty? Even if they say no I would assume it would be faster and cheaper to buy the product direct from them and be for sale asap vs trying to patent, then find a new manufacture, then create packaging, then market, then etc.... If you are planning on building your own brand and think you will have other complimentary products for a full line then that may not be the way to go....
 

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Why not try to find the person who invented it and work with them to bring it to the US? Stealing someone else's livelihood for your own benefit is gross. You'll give yourself heart disease and your dreams will be haunted forever by the knowledge that you're starving someone in a 3rd world country to fatten yourself. We can all do better than that. Give credit to people who make things; work with them and pull everyone up together. That's where the real money is made. Thieves aren't the rich people, despite whatever the lame urban legends about "the rich" make you think. Be civil, ethical, generous, etc., and get rich the right way ;)
 

Jon L

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I think we need details in order to really say what's what here.

If someone has an idea, maybe even a product, but no foresight or ability to bring it to the US, how much of the credit do they deserve? I suppose it depends on the idea.

If we're talking about Facebook vs MySpace, Facebook owes MySpace nothing. Facebook merely beat MySpace at its own game.

If its a different take on a baseball bat, where the design and material is the only thing that matters, then the inventor deserves quite a bit.

Can you take the idea and improve on it in a way that would make it a new product?

In real estate, if you happen to know that a major shopping center is going to be built next to an abandoned warehouse that's for sale at a price that's fair, but way less than it will be once the shopping center gets built, do you have an obligation to tell the seller your knowledge of the shopping center plans? ('Hell no' is the answer to that)

What I'm saying is that the ethics of this aren't clear cut until we know the details.
 

Jon L

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Thanks for the input. I don't want to be like Edison. That would really suck. I read the story of Tesla and it was really sad. The invention is the mechanism itself. In its raw form, it doesn't do much and will not gain traction. Some more manufacturing and a slight redesign must be redone first, then it must be reborn in a new form that still utilizes the original mechanism, but with the new form, it can gain traction.

As an example to illustrate, let's say someone just invented a rice cooker. I repackage it in a different shape, different material, different color scheme. Let's assume that rice cookers are common in Asia, but also assume that rice cookers don't exist in the US and I want to patent a rice cooker in this hypothetical example.
I think your rice cooker is a perfect example of what I was trying to say in my last post. If you were to try to compensate the inventor of the rice cooker in Asia, which inventor would you compensate? It wouldn't even make sense to try to find someone. Rice cookers are ubiquitous over there. They're made by everyone. "Rice Cooker" is a concept, not a product. Make your own, patent it here and then go to work trying to convince people to use it instead of using the stove top like everyone else does here.

If you were trying to patent a particular rice cooker design that was by-far better than all the others, you definitely owe the inventor something.
 

Real Deal Denver

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I have some inventions I've been working on for a long time. The product part is easy - the launch and being successful is brutal. Everyone here is assuming people play fair, and will respect a patent. Ha.

In the real world, ideas are ripped off as soon as they become known. It's a game of "catch me if you can" which takes a lot of time and a lot of money - and the bandits know that. That's why a lot of products don't have a patent. A patent is a PERMIT to sue someone. Suing them is an adventure that can take all your time AND all your money. Want to play that game? If you do get a judgment, good luck in getting money. It's not like suing Wal-Mart. It's like suing Galaxy Worldwide Enterprises - that was started in a garage or boiler room - and can disappear in a moment - with all their money also disappearing with them.

I am leaning HEAVILY towards licensing. I know full well that I can't fight the big battles - patent or not - and win.

There are hawks scanning patents every day. This is what they do. They take - modify - reverse engineer - or just plain steal - ideas. And they're good at it.

You really have to play this out in your mind and play to win. It's a dangerous game. MANY inventors almost went insane trying to get money for their ideas. It's so common that it's almost a guaranteed rite of passage that inventers must undertake. Good luck.
 

MattR82

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I have some inventions I've been working on for a long time. The product part is easy - the launch and being successful is brutal. Everyone here is assuming people play fair, and will respect a patent. Ha.

In the real world, ideas are ripped off as soon as they become known. It's a game of "catch me if you can" which takes a lot of time and a lot of money - and the bandits know that. That's why a lot of products don't have a patent. A patent is a PERMIT to sue someone. Suing them is an adventure that can take all your time AND all your money. Want to play that game? If you do get a judgment, good luck in getting money. It's not like suing Wal-Mart. It's like suing Galaxy Worldwide Enterprises - that was started in a garage or boiler room - and can disappear in a moment - with all their money also disappearing with them.

I am leaning HEAVILY towards licensing. I know full well that I can't fight the big battles - patent or not - and win.

There are hawks scanning patents every day. This is what they do. They take - modify - reverse engineer - or just plain steal - ideas. And they're good at it.

You really have to play this out in your mind and play to win. It's a dangerous game. MANY inventors almost went insane trying to get money for their ideas. It's so common that it's almost a guaranteed rite of passage that inventers must undertake. Good luck.
Yep, speed to market with a hundred dollar PPA rather than years later with a patent costing tens of thousands. Unless it a drug or something complicated.
 
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princesscrystal

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The product originates from Japan. It is available from a company that sells other products.

It is distributed via Rakuten.

For example, let's say it is a takoyaki maker and only one company makes them in Japan. They are not patented in Japan or the US.

I now want to sell takoyaki makers to the eSports community in the US because they are getting popular among that group. I also want to licence their logos onto the takoyaki makers. I want to gain an edge over competitors in the US. Now it seems to be an issue of getting a patent, or trying to be first to market in the US. What if Kitchen Aid wants to beat me to it? Or Cuisinart? What if the eSports companies try to do it on their own?

It seems like my best course of action would be to build fast and try to establish myself as a brand so that takoyaki makers are synonymous with my brand in the US, then continue to do marketing.

@realdealdenver

Thanks for the input.
 

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Jon L

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The product originates from Japan. It is available from a company that sells other products.

It is distributed via Rakuten.

For example, let's say it is a takoyaki maker and only one company makes them in Japan. They are not patented in Japan or the US.

I now want to sell takoyaki makers to the eSports community in the US because they are getting popular among that group. I also want to licence their logos onto the takoyaki makers. I want to gain an edge over competitors in the US. Now it seems to be an issue of getting a patent, or trying to be first to market in the US. What if Kitchen Aid wants to beat me to it? Or Cuisinart? What if the eSports companies try to do it on their own?

It seems like my best course of action would be to build fast and try to establish myself as a brand so that takoyaki makers are synonymous with my brand in the US, then continue to do marketing.

@realdealdenver

Thanks for the input.
There's a podcast that covers exactly this. Its a 60 minute interview with the guy that brought Tempurpedic mattresses to the US. Its a pretty interesting listen. What was KEY to his success was the relationship he developed with the manufacturer. Eventually, he and a private equity firm bought out the manufacturer.

One interesting tidbit: He'd committed to sell 10,000 mattress toppers the first year. He sold 70 (not a typo). Rather than cut him off, they financed his next shipment of product. That only happened because of the relationship he built with them.

 
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BrianLateStart

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Getting a patent might not be possible with prior art. Just because something isn't patented doesn't mean it's up for grabs for anyone to patent.

I guy I know is selling a filament dryer for 3D printing. He buys a food dehydrator, removes the shelves and the front plate that has the logo of the dehydrator brand on it. 3D prints a spool holder that fits the shelf slots and prints a new front plate with his logo. He doesn't need to patent it, probably couldn't if he wanted. He gives up some control because the company that makes the dehydrator could go out of business (or whatever), but there are others he could buy and modify. If you can only get your item from one supplier, what happens to your product if you can't get them anymore?

There isn't anything you can do if KitchenAid or Cuisinart wants into the market. It's difficult to be synonymous with a product. Who made the first Air Fryer? It could be tough competition, but that usually doesn't happen until you're successful.
 

LightningHelix

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My issue with this, is it seems to violate "Entry" in cents.

If it is an existing product, what is stopping someone from just seeing you are developing a market for it and taking the opportunity to jump into the market with more experience and possibily ressources.

Your best bet is to focus on value skew. Being first to market dosen't mean you're the best value (just ask MySpace...)
 

ChrisV

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Ideas are basically worthless, imo. It's execution that matters. Is this idea really that great that you're going to spend 10K+ on a patent then build a company from it?

What's the market for this item? Are they selling like hotcakes? Are you sure there's no patent? Running patent searches is hard and it's easy to overlook certain patents. Sometimes you'll run a search a dozen times then the 13th person runs a search and it pops up.

Are you going to start a company based off this patent? Are you going to license it to an existing company?

Patents are nonsense imo. I mean you can patent something, but if another company really wants to copy the idea they'll just design around the patent. All you have to do is change it enough that it doesn't violate the patent. Patents are more of a poker face than anything. First to market wins.
 

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Patents are nonsense imo. I mean you can patent something, but if another company really wants to copy the idea they'll just design around the patent. All you have to do is change it enough that it doesn't violate the patent. Patents are more of a poker face than anything. First to market wins.
I don't necessarily agree with this.

Patents are a strong and valid form of protection in countries that respect them and for genuinely novel inventions. If someone can just "design around the patent", then your patent sucks and you probably shouldn't have wasted your time.

Keep in mind that patents aren't ideas, they are methods.
That is a VERY important distinction.

It's the different between "I have an idea for a toaster" and "I've discovered a new method to toast bread that utilizes a novel heating element that operates on the principles of....".

It's the difference between making a square toaster round and branding it as your own, and not being able to use the new heating element invention AT ALL without paying a licensing fee or risking lawsuits because there's simply no other way to "design around" the fundamental methodology of the invention.

It's the difference between a large competitor steamrolling over you and out-executing you, and having them put in an offer to buy you out the moment you end up on their radar.

I totally 100% agree that getting to market quickly is important, but if you have something GENUINELY novel, especially if it's in an areas where you can expect big competitors, then getting a patent TOTALLY makes sense.
 

DemiOstin

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You are asking a binary question (should or should not).

Reframe your question e.g.: "how do I take this idea/product, deliver it to the market and make peace with my ethics?"

At least one possible scenario that jumped into my head: take the solution, built your product (patent it yourself if you wish), market and start selling, then when you are making profit put aside a % of profit into a fund and just give it away to the original inventors. you can apply it retrospectively or starting from some point in time (define milestone beforehand). Next step if you wish, parner up so they develop another product for you.

Re some comments above: in simple terms Tesla had unique design skills, Edison - production and sale. and you need BOTH to bring value to people.
 

Ing

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In Germany you cant protect something, which was seen anywhere already.
 

ChrisV

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I don't necessarily agree with this.

Patents are a strong and valid form of protection in countries that respect them and for genuinely novel inventions. If someone can just "design around the patent", then your patent sucks and you probably shouldn't have wasted your time.

Keep in mind that patents aren't ideas, they are methods.
That is a VERY important distinction.

It's the different between "I have an idea for a toaster" and "I've discovered a new method to toast bread that utilizes a novel heating element that operates on the principles of....".

It's the difference between making a square toaster round and branding it as your own, and not being able to use the new heating element invention AT ALL without paying a licensing fee or risking lawsuits because there's simply no other way to "design around" the fundamental methodology of the invention.

It's the difference between a large competitor steamrolling over you and out-executing you, and having them put in an offer to buy you out the moment you end up on their radar.

I totally 100% agree that getting to market quickly is important, but if you have something GENUINELY novel, especially if it's in an areas where you can expect big competitors, then getting a patent TOTALLY makes sense.
The iPhone is patented. 1 year later Android phones came out.

5cv4dpM.jpg

I think in general, patents are overrated. But if OP thinks it's worth the $10,000 or so it's gonna cost (it may be worth it – i don't know their situation well enough) then go for it. There are situations where patents make complete sense but people tend to overvalue their necessity. Again, I don't know the specifics of the OP's product so it's hard to say but it's worth thinking about.
 

ChrisV

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You are asking a binary question (should or should not).

Reframe your question e.g.: "how do I take this idea/product, deliver it to the market and make peace with my ethics?"

At least one possible scenario that jumped into my head: take the solution, built your product (patent it yourself if you wish), market and start selling, then when you are making profit put aside a % of profit into a fund and just give it away to the original inventors. you can apply it retrospectively or starting from some point in time (define milestone beforehand). Next step if you wish, parner up so they develop another product for you.

Re some comments above: in simple terms Tesla had unique design skills, Edison - production and sale. and you need BOTH to bring value to people.
Yes @princesscrystal if you want to do this ethically and worry you won't be able to sleep at night you can just contact the original inventor and come up with a licensing agreement with them. The standard rate is 5% of the profits but you can suit it to your needs. Email them and see if you can come up with some terms that work for both parties.
 

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princesscrystal

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Thanks all for your input. I was also considering something too. Patreon recently started a merch division. This would actually fit quite nicely. There is a lot of possible overlap with the Twitch.tv community as well. It will be interesting how this may or may not work out, but a good learning experience overall. I like the Patreon Merch/Twitch.tv idea. Currently, Patreon Merch is only doing t-shirts, mugs and a few others.
 

BrianLateStart

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The iPhone is patented. 1 year later Android phones came out.
Just an FYI from wikipedia..." As of mid 2018, the trials over the patent dispute have been resolved, resulting in Apple being awarded $539 million"

This was against Samsung. Patents can be very valuable.

Amazon has recently made it much easier to have infringing products removed from its marketplace. Previously it was difficult to get anyone at Amazon to take it seriously. They appear to be taking IP rights very seriously.
 

ChrisV

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Just an FYI from wikipedia..." As of mid 2018, the trials over the patent dispute have been resolved, resulting in Apple being awarded $539 million"
That was Apple vs Samsung, not Apple vs Google. Google just designed around the patents, hence no lawsuits.

Samsung was just retarded about it. I mean they literally had Powerpoints saying "This is too square.. make it more like the iPhone, this is too green, make it more like the iPhone"... they blatantly traced many aspects which is rare.

samsung-feels-awkward-640x493.png
(link)

But that's a little different. Apple has billions of dollars, and the iPhone was almost a sure success. I see so many wacky 'inventors' take out a mortgage on their home for their wacky thing-a-ma-bob...


Better Call Saul - Chandler's Toilet

...without even knowing if the product is going to even be remotely successful. Don't blow 10K on an idea when you don't even know if it's gonna work. My suggestion is to get a provisional patent (which costs $65 depending on your income, and lasts 1 year) and during that time pitch to investors, companies or whatever. It gives you the "patent pending" mark while you test the market, and if it is viable then you can drop 10K on patenting it.

Steven Keys has great videos on this: inventright patents - YouTube
 

Real Deal Denver

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Just an FYI from wikipedia..." As of mid 2018, the trials over the patent dispute have been resolved, resulting in Apple being awarded $539 million"

This was against Samsung. Patents can be very valuable.

Amazon has recently made it much easier to have infringing products removed from its marketplace. Previously it was difficult to get anyone at Amazon to take it seriously. They appear to be taking IP rights very seriously.
Not resolved. The court "awarded a judgement." A judgement is a long ways from getting any money.

So what did Samsung do? Write a check? Give up? Nope.

They appealed. And that set the stage for the battle, which started in 2011, to go on for a few more years.

.

But, instead of chapters 105-136 to ensue - something remarkable happened. They settled. The terms were not revealed - but I guess all parties decided that a decade or so was long enough and maybe there were better ways to spend their time AND money, rather than fighting... much to the disdain of the lawyers involved, that perhaps planned on making this one case their gravy boat that they would ride to retirement.


The point of my earlier post was to not rely on a patent to get someone to apologize for infringement and to cease and desist - and maybe even send you a check... but instead, to be prepared to add an entire division to your company that would be devoted to fighting patent infringement. And by adding an entirely new division, comes entire new - and ongoing - costs.

Apple, Samsung, Ford, and Wal-Mart may be able to go decades fighting things - after all, they have the lawyers ON STAFF already - but it's an entirely different world for a tiny peon like myself.

THAT'S the game. Figure that out - if you can - but I assure you it's not as easy as flashing a patent number and everything will be resolved quickly and easily. Some of the time, yes, it will work - but for the times it won't work - get ready to spend a fortune - and years of your life - fighting.

I've been searching for books that address this situation. I can't find any, and I've been searching for years. It's the dirty little secret about the world of patents that nobody wants to talk about.
 

JAJT

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The iPhone is patented. 1 year later Android phones came out.
A patent on a design is very weak and should mostly be considered an extension of your branding expense.

Not to sound obvious but if you're spending $10k to protect the shape of a box, don't be surprised when slightly differently shaped boxes show up.

A strong patent and a patent worth pursuing is one that precludes others from being able to "design around" it.

If you come up with a superior touch screen method thanks to your unique expertise in material sciences and physics, well that's not so easy to "design around" because it would mean not only understanding the fundamentals of what makes the new method work, but then you'd have to find a DIFFERENT enough way of accomplishing it without infringing on the fundamentals of the patent. That's VERY hard.

At this point, you can either spend millions of dollars doing reverse engineering analysis on the device, expending resources to understand it, and then R&D to find some what to design around it, plus testing to ensure it actually works better and in a way that doesn't violate the patent,

OR

License it from the patent holder.

That's the difference between a weak and a strong patent. A strong patent should make other potential competitors go "oh shit, how the hell do we do this without using their tech?"

I personally wouldn't even consider patenting something unless I was very certain that virtually all competitors would have to tiptoe through my patent to copy me.
 

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