You’ve worked long and hard to create something new, and now you’re gearing up to apply for a patent. You know that you won’t be granted a patent if your invention isn’t unique, so you do a search for similar patents…and you find them. Now what?
If you find a patent or design that is similar to yours, it doesn’t automatically mean that you can’t patent your invention. You may be able to proceed if your design or invention is similar to another, but not identical.
Your idea might not be 100% original.
As you search for “prior art,” or ideas that were patented before yours, you will run into designs or inventions that are similar to yours. You’ll also find designs or inventions that are similar to each other yet were still patented.
Most inventions are an improvement upon prior existing inventions as many inventors work to solve the same problem.
There are multiple patents for mobile communications, for motors, and for migraine medications. They all exist because they’re all different enough from each other in the point of novelty and the details of how they accomplish their invention. Unless your invention or design is a 100% a carbon copy – or is essentially the same thing in design, make up, and use – you may still have a unique enough invention to patent.
You may be able to augment your design to be just a little more original.
Some inventions may have a bit more flexibility in the design or function to set the design apart from competitors. For example, chemical formulas aren’t very flexible, since changing the formula may create a chemical that won’t do whatever it’s intended to do. However, it’s possible to change the industrial design of a cell phone or an mp3 player to distinguish itself from others of its type. It’s also possible to change the inner workings of an invention to distinguish it from others. For example, while many notebook and laptop computers look the same, their hardware and software may be remarkably different, essentially making them different inventions. There is more than one way to chop down a tree.
Seek the counsel of a patent law attorney.
A patent law attorney can help you determine if your invention is unique enough for a patent to be granted. However, there are worse things than having your patent application denied, like being sued for patent infringement. A patent law attorney can help you both determine whether you have a patentable design or invention and help you avoid patent infringement if you produce or manufacture a carbon copy of someone else’s work. If you’d like to schedule a consultation with our patent attorneys, simply call 888-666-0062.
DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice or a substitute for obtaining legal advice from an attorney.
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