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Advice on Patents #1: Okay, it's not woodworking, but it's for woodworker's too.

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Blog entry by Lee A. Jesberger posted 08-13-2008 02:41 PM 1860 reads 4 times favorited 54 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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Hi all;

As woodworkers, I would say we are a pretty creative group. I doubt any us us have not had an idea to improve something, or develop a new tool, or idea to make an existing tool better.

This creativity is a necessary ingredient to inventing anything, and is a characteristic of our hobby. Add to that the mother of all inventions, necessity, and with us being tinkerer’s, we’re almost forced to invent something. A lot of us have made our invention, for our own use whenever possible.

Surprisingly, I’ve have been contacted a number of times over the past few years from fellows that have invented something, and somehow end up calling me for advice. I’m not exactly sure how they decide I’m the right guy to call, or even how they found me, but it continues to happen.

A few weeks or so ago, a fellow called me about an idea he has. It is a product for making cutting sheet goods easier. He has one he made from wood and claims it works great.

We talked for about an hour, and the longer he talked, the worse I felt for him.

He has spent $ 8,500.00 so far, with a patent attorney to get a patent and eventually bring his invention to market.

The invention sounds like many of the existing products on the market already, so who knows if he’ll actually end up getting a patent. What is certain though, is that money is gone, and it is without any guarantee of anything.

While talking with him, I asked him a number of questions regarding the process his attorney is using. He repeatedly said, ” my attorney said he is sure I’ll get this patent, so that step wasn’t necessary”.

He was actually defending a guy who is taking his money, and leading him to believe everything will work out fine. And guess what, it will, for the attorney. He doesn’t have to produce results, just effort. And you can be pretty certain a paralegal is doing the effort part.

I have helped a few guys, friends in various trades, get provisional patents and the results were made clear, before parting with thousands of dollars for an attorney.

Do keep in mind, it would be foolish not to get a patent attorney, but it helps to know when to get one, and if he’s on the level.

So I decided to write about my experiences in the patent process.

To that end I have created another website, http://www.adviceonpatents.com

It is still under development and probably will be for some time to come as I’m a bit busy, but there is already enough information to save anyone considering a patent, many thousands of dollars.

So, if any of my friends here are considering this adventure, and it really is an adventure, check it out!

Lee

-- by Lee A. Jesberger http://www.prowoodworkingtips.com http://www.ezee-feed.com



54 comments so far

View Alan Young's profile

Alan Young

114 posts in 2416 days


#1 posted 08-13-2008 02:51 PM

Lee,

A great effort in putting up that page. Family members have engaged in the patent process several times and it is always a filed that must be navigated carefully.

Alan

View SteveKorz's profile

SteveKorz

2131 posts in 2409 days


#2 posted 08-13-2008 03:21 PM

I always look at everyone through suspicious eyes. I’ve had some decent ideas in the past that I would have loved to produce, but had no idea how, or who to go to. I was always afraid of getting caught in that trap described above, spending thousands for nothing. Maybe this will help sift things out. Great site, thanks for the link…!

-- As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17) †

View Bob #2's profile

Bob #2

3808 posts in 2717 days


#3 posted 08-13-2008 04:13 PM

That’s a great idea Lee.
The pitfalls of patenting a product in many ways, outweigh the gains achieved.
It seems today that the legal system profits to a much larger extent than the individual patent holder.
That may not be true for large corporations but the legal battles for intellectual property in the software industry are the things legends are made of.

Then there is the China phenomenon where your product could be made and sold in many parts of the world without your even knowing.

To date, the world seem intimidated by this glowering autocracy. That has to change.

I look forward to seeing your experiences in print and learning some of the intracises of the process.

Bob

-- A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner

View PaBull's profile

PaBull

928 posts in 2361 days


#4 posted 08-13-2008 04:32 PM

Lee, I like what you are doing. I own one patent, a friend lawyer helped me with it. The one thing I learned from it is that you need find the patent lawyer that understands the trade where it applies to too.

-- rhykenologist and plant grower

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6664 posts in 2675 days


#5 posted 08-13-2008 04:35 PM

Hi Alan;

Thank you!

I am amazed at what I’ve been told regarding professional advice!

Some of it can only be classified as outrageous!

Lee

-- by Lee A. Jesberger http://www.prowoodworkingtips.com http://www.ezee-feed.com

View tenontim's profile

tenontim

2131 posts in 2440 days


#6 posted 08-13-2008 04:38 PM

Thanks for the info, Lee. I know I’ve come up with ideas and after searches on the patent sites, have found out there is something similar, even if it is very crude. The data base for patents is enormous. Want to be inventors need to spend a little time each day or week, just perusing the site to see what’s there, before they even think about wasting money on an attorney. I’m sure I’ll spend some time looking over your sight.

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6664 posts in 2675 days


#7 posted 08-13-2008 04:41 PM

Hi Steve;

Thanks for the kind words. I had a suspicion a lot of us “Jocks” have some ideas, and felt it would be good to provide some of the information I learned along the way.

I hope this effort will help save many people from walking into that trap.

I did spend hundreds of hours studying the process, so I figured why not pass it along.

Plus it gives me practice on making websites. (actually the site has already started showing up on Google for a few search terms).

Lee

-- by Lee A. Jesberger http://www.prowoodworkingtips.com http://www.ezee-feed.com

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6664 posts in 2675 days


#8 posted 08-13-2008 04:49 PM

Hi Bob;

Hello my friend!

You bring up a great point about China. One of the contacts I made was a fellow from Hong Kong, who invents, manufactures and imports products.

He showed me a product he has a patent on, manufactures and sells. Someone from a company in China copied his idea, and is promoting it here in the US. They actually sent him a sample, in an effort to sell them. DUH!

Rather blatant I’d say.

Thank you;

Lee

-- by Lee A. Jesberger http://www.prowoodworkingtips.com http://www.ezee-feed.com

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 2995 days


#9 posted 08-13-2008 04:54 PM

My Father-in-law had quite a few patents on a variety of items, & he would do everything himself, even

the patent drawing.

The first thing is the patent search, & it’s amazing that you’ll find many that are just like yours.

You can have all the patents in the world, but the main thing is trying to market it.

Without good marketing, a patent is useless.

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN. http://www.woodcarvingillustrated.com/gallery/member.php?uid=3627&protype=1

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6664 posts in 2675 days


#10 posted 08-13-2008 04:55 PM

Hi PaBull;

You bring up a great point regarding having someone versed in the area of your invention. This is critical in having the claims written properly, or it’s a good bet your patent will not be granted.

What is it you have a patent on?

Lee

-- by Lee A. Jesberger http://www.prowoodworkingtips.com http://www.ezee-feed.com

View Quixote's profile

Quixote

206 posts in 2334 days


#11 posted 08-13-2008 04:57 PM

Lee, thanks for sharing your experience.

One thing I’ve learned about attorneys…

As long as you have money to spend, they have sunshine to sell….

Q

-- I don't make sawdust...I produce vast quantities of "Micro Mulch."

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6664 posts in 2675 days


#12 posted 08-13-2008 04:58 PM

Hi Tim;

Thank you for adding to the subject. You couldn’t be more right about spending time investigating the data, well in advance of seeking a patent, or especially an attorney.

Lee

-- by Lee A. Jesberger http://www.prowoodworkingtips.com http://www.ezee-feed.com

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6664 posts in 2675 days


#13 posted 08-13-2008 05:03 PM

Hi Dick;

I am having thoughts that this is the way to go for some people, meaning do it yourself. Of course that’s not for everyone, but if you can, why not!

Did he have success in his marketing efforts?

Say hello to Barb for me.

Lee

-- by Lee A. Jesberger http://www.prowoodworkingtips.com http://www.ezee-feed.com

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 2995 days


#14 posted 08-13-2008 05:15 PM

He invented the first spring Rocking horse, & had a company all set for production, & World War II

came along, & the factory switched to wartime products, Bad Luck!

He had many other toys, & games that weren’t successful.

Like I said in my first comment, Marketing.

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN. http://www.woodcarvingillustrated.com/gallery/member.php?uid=3627&protype=1

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6664 posts in 2675 days


#15 posted 08-13-2008 05:19 PM

Hi Quixote;

I had the pleasure of dealing with one particular attorney who seemed obtuse.

I went to a deposition, and all the other attorneys had huge piles of paperwork, and mine had a small folder with only a few pages.

Needless to say I was somewhat concerned. I leaned over to him and whispered to him, “look at all the paperwork these attorneys have. How come we don’t have that?” His response was if you want to pay for copies of all those pages, no problem, but we don’t need ‘em.

Here’s where it boils down to a guess, is my guy nuts, or smart.

Turns out he was smart. Quite smart. He saved me a fortune.

In another case he made me a fair amount of money from a client who had broken a large verbal contract. When the case was settled, I asked him what I owe him. He said all I did was file paperwork, which you already paid for. We’re even. The paperwork charge was $300.00

And I also have a good number of friends that are attorneys, and I really can’t imagine them being anything but straight guys that you can really count on.

But the ones of which you speak, Yuk! (choice of words limited due to this being a family site).

Lee

-- by Lee A. Jesberger http://www.prowoodworkingtips.com http://www.ezee-feed.com

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