Anybody with utility patent experience?

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Anybody with utility patent experience?

Postby downsouthcamper » Thu Jun 07, 2018 5:04 pm

I have been working on and off for the past two years on a new and, what I believe to be, a totally revolutionary design in teardrop campers. The beauty in this design is its versatility and space-saving ability that is totally different than anything I have seen. I have put a huge amount of work into this design and I am looking forward to the day I can reveal the camper, however, after this investment in time and resources, I feel the need to protect my intellectual property via a utility patent and potentially design patents. I think this design could be an enormous hit in a community like this, but getting to that point is where I struggle, generally with a lack of knowledge. I have a working (and beautiful) prototype and I am ready to take the next step, get a utility patent, and start production. Problem is, a utility patent will cost me roughly $25,000 that I don't have, so I'm stuck at square one. Any ideas???
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Re: Anybody with utility patent experience?

Postby John61CT » Thu Jun 07, 2018 5:21 pm

Find investors. First investment, solid NDAs for further investors.

Then secure patents.

Then crowdfund.
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Re: Anybody with utility patent experience?

Postby Shadow Catcher » Thu Jun 07, 2018 6:05 pm

You can protect it for the time being bu doing the description and mailing it to yourself and keeping the sealed letter that is post marked and dated, proves you had the idea at a particular point in time. There are various libraries that have the patent office library i.e Toledo Ohio. Research filing a patent you can be taken advantage of.
https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/getting-patent-yourself-29493.html
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Re: Anybody with utility patent experience?

Postby KTM_Guy » Thu Jun 07, 2018 9:28 pm

My brother deals with this stuff all the time and tells people unless you have the deep pockets to go after someone just make as much money as you can fast, and move on when others copy your idea.

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Re: Anybody with utility patent experience?

Postby downsouthcamper » Thu Jun 07, 2018 11:21 pm

Thanks everyone for the replies. So, there is this thing called a provisional patent that is good for 1 year only. It's cheap (less than $100), but once it expires, there is no extending it. I think what I may do is file the provisional patent just prior to my first reveal and take the camper to a trade show and see if I can generate interest by showing the prototype, securing purchase orders or investors, then getting the big boy utility patent. Are there some teardrop and tiny camper specific trade shows?

It kills me not to share the idea, but I think it's that good. Family and friends seemed skeptical at first, but I have really changed opinions as they saw the concept develop.
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Re: Anybody with utility patent experience?

Postby John61CT » Fri Jun 08, 2018 6:59 am

I mean this friendly

Asking Qs like this here, shows me you need to take on a business-savvy investor-partner ASAP in order to have any chance of success.

Getting a smaller slice of a bigger more certain pie will be better than trying to break even on a hobbyist aporoach.

And that way you can focus on the back room tech design stuff you enjoy.
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Re: Anybody with utility patent experience?

Postby tony.latham » Fri Jun 08, 2018 10:16 am

I would think buying an hour of time from a patent attorney would be a good investment.

:thinking:

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Re: Anybody with utility patent experience?

Postby Aguyfromohio » Fri Jun 08, 2018 11:24 am

We just paid a patent attorney for a design patent on our teardrop, not a utility patent. It protects the overall appearance of the thing like a brand identity or work of art.
I spent many years as a consulting engineer doing design work, and have come to believe that most patents are not really worth much in real life for the small inventor.
Think about the scenario where you might try to use your patent by suing to enforce it. Most people won't gain much by getting into such a fight.

1. Who do you imagine might be stealing your work?
- if it's a small mom and pop shop, they won't take much market share or cost you much if you both sell these things
- if it's a giant like Winnebago or Thor you won't likely beat them in court, and they will bleed you dry with legal fees

2. The patent office grants lots of patents that don't hold up when challenged, just ask Apple or Samsung.
- prior art for common things like trailers usually invalidates a patent when challenged strongly by a big rich challenger
- unless your invention is a basic and fundamental breakthrough in science it's probably just a small variation on existing prior art

3. Large firms routinely take patents on most of their products just to cover the long shot scenario
-it mostly gives them peace of mind that no one else can stop them from building and selling their new product
- the cost of buying patents is insignificant to them
- they usually ignore competitors who jump on the bandwagon

4. Instead consider forcing the second guy to sue you into submission to make you cease and desist. Cheaper and easier.
- if the invention really is worth a ton of money he'll probably rather buy you off which ain't so bad.
- you can stall them, drag things out for years, and make money selling the invention the whole time
- if you really did invent something new (unlikely) and it's defensible, YOU get to be the prior art and YOU bust THEIR bogus late patent

I am a named inventor on three RV utility patents owned by Holiday Rambler Corp (now Monaco coach).
Those patents have been violated and the owner never bothered to defend them.
Ain't worth the trouble, and they made all their money.

Instead work to build your business and be first to market. Keep your secret with NDA as suggested above.
If you get your business up and running and find some competitors infringing, by then you've made some real money and have a commanding lead in the marketplace for your brand.
Don't worry much about getting a patent unless you have $15,000 laying around you are happy to blow on a patent that will never really work for you.

All that said, we paid a couple grand for a design patent.
We like to brag we have it, and in the unlikely event we really do start a business it will keep anyone else from making us cease and desist.
But it's mostly just for kicks and bragging rights.

My best advice is to stay focused on building and selling and not worry much about patents.
Ron Linder of In-Fisherman magazine has a great story of how he is the real inventor of the Mr. Twister curly tailed grub jig.
He got beat out by Mr Twister, and now advises people to forget about patents, just be first to market and sell sell sell.
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Re: Anybody with utility patent experience?

Postby downsouthcamper » Fri Jun 08, 2018 2:30 pm

Great insight and advice. Thank you for the response. My problem is scalability of the camper with my current limited funds. I suspect I could make 5 or 10 and I think they would sell (with a current full-time job and 3 kids...yikes), maybe even sell them quickly, but by the time it came to reinvest that money, build and improve on design, the cat would be out of the bag and I would have competitors nipping at my heels in a year and a half. The basic design is nice but better, more lightweight materials and mediums (rotomolded/uv plastics) would really kick the design into another gear. I have contacted my local statewide startup group (Mississippi) with zero response and because of the size and limited resources of my state, its been tough sledding. I was very vague on the description and tried to make initial contact to see where things went, but I guess I will have to blunder my way though it on my own.

would you suggest any specific trade shows where I could introduce my design?
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Re: Anybody with utility patent experience?

Postby downsouthcamper » Fri Jun 08, 2018 2:32 pm

tony.latham wrote:I would think buying an hour of time from a patent attorney would be a good investment.

:thinking:

Tony


Not a bad suggestion at all. I wouldn't necessarily have to go whole-hog right off the bat. I have even considered writing the utility patent myself and then hiring a patent attorney to proof it and make suggestion and alterations. I can do the CAD artwork myself as well.
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Re: Anybody with utility patent experience?

Postby KTM_Guy » Fri Jun 08, 2018 9:42 pm

Aguy is right on.

You said you can make 5 to 10 is that a month? 6 months? year? Do you have the production space available with the equipment? I would think the minimum would be building 3 at one time and probably 5 would be better. One of the off-road teardrop manufactures (I think I know the name but not 100% so won't say the name) was telling customers putting down money it was 16 months lead time. But the back log was more like 36 months. Not where you want to get because people go on forums and trash you.

Have you thought of selling plans to build your idea? Might be a way to make some extra money with little outlay on your part. Maybe even sell a kit, have someone CNC the parts for you. You provide all the cut parts, buyer gets sheet goods local.

Have you looked into the legal and insurance red tape to become a trailer manufacture? I bet it is crazy.

I have thought of some of this stuff, I'm only 1/2 to 3/4 done building my first build and have two people that want me to build them one. :shock: I just want to get mine done and use it.

Can't wait to see the idea.

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Re: Anybody with utility patent experience?

Postby GuitarPhotog » Sat Jun 09, 2018 11:56 am

Shadow Catcher wrote:You can protect it for the time being bu doing the description and mailing it to yourself and keeping the sealed letter that is post marked and dated, proves you had the idea at a particular point in time. There are various libraries that have the patent office library i.e Toledo Ohio. Research filing a patent you can be taken advantage of.
https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/getting-patent-yourself-29493.html


Nope that doesn't work

See this
http://legalteamusa.net/tacticalip/2015 ... your-idea/
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Re: Anybody with utility patent experience?

Postby WizardOfOdds » Sat Jun 09, 2018 11:20 pm

To a large extent, I find patents to be just fodder for lawyers. But don't take my word for it, look up "when Patents Attack (Parts 1 and 2 ala This American Life and Planet Money ??). Rather than seeking an expensive (and worthless or worst??) patent, take the opposite approach: publish your idea - it's a way of establishing your right to the idea against future patents.
WizardOfOdds: Chalet shaped rag roof clam shell TIER drop for 4 cylinder tow
Tip Top Tier Drop thread http://www.tnttt.com/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=56232
Unusual Designs thread http://www.tnttt.com/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=64495
Tale of 2 Trailers thread http://www.tnttt.com/viewtopic.php?f=35&t=61451
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Re: Anybody with utility patent experience?

Postby tony.latham » Sun Jun 10, 2018 10:08 am

When I was in college --a gazillion years ago-- my father invented a kitchen bread slicer. It was really just a fancy miter box for a loaf of home-baked bread but it worked really well. You could slice it up and they'd fit in a toaster.

He got it patented. He had a mould built. He had plastic company begin production. They were functional and came in bright colours and were a hit.

And then Rhodes Bread company started selling clones. He met with his attorney and learned the facts of life. It would take more money to fight the infringement than he had.

:thumbdown:

Over the last several years, I've bookmarked teardrop manufacturers on my web browser. Most of those links don't work anymore. They went belly up. If you look at successful (quality) manufacturers such as Camp-Inn, So-Cal, Inca and Vistabule to name a few, they've figured out how to market quality products. And since I don't hear about problems, they must stand behind what they make.

Googling around, I see that Alto Travel Trailers has a patent for their roof expansion system. What I can't find is a patent for Camp-Inn's unique Raindrop. Nor can I find one for Vistabule's galley windscreen or any of their other innovative ideas.

So-Cal isn't copying the Raindrop. Camp-Inn isn't adding galley windscreens.

I think what survives (and sells) in the commercial teardrop world is quality and customer service. Build your unique teardrop. Build it right and treat your customers like good friends and you'll do fine.

:thinking:
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Re: Anybody with utility patent experience?

Postby drhill » Sun Jun 10, 2018 5:01 pm

Looks like the Alto was just stolen from the Kamp Master design. Oh well. They managed to get a patent so nobody can stop them from building. But anybody should be able to build a Kamp Master style trailer. It would be pretty hard to come up with a design that isn't very similar to something that somebody else has already built.

Like Tony said - quality and customer service are the key.
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