LumberJocks

Best way to Patent a woodworking design

  • Advertise with us

« back to Designing Woodworking Projects forum

Forum topic by arscifiwriter posted 04-16-2016 06:35 PM 1092 views 0 times favorited 22 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View arscifiwriter's profile

arscifiwriter

5 posts in 237 days


04-16-2016 06:35 PM

Topic tags/keywords: patent

I am wanting to find out about getting a design patent on a product I have designed and built in my wood shop. who can give me feedback on what steps I should take?


22 replies so far

View MrRon's profile

MrRon

3927 posts in 2710 days


#1 posted 04-16-2016 06:58 PM

You need to contact a patent attorney, but be advised it will cost you a lot of money before a patent is ever awarded. Even if you can get a patent, you are not protected against patent infringers that can cost you more money to fight it. Only big corporations can afford to patent anything these days. Sorry; I don’t mean to discourage you, but the problems are real.

View arscifiwriter's profile

arscifiwriter

5 posts in 237 days


#2 posted 04-16-2016 07:13 PM

MrRon,

I know it can be a big deal with infringement and such. Seems to be a big hassle to get protection that may end up being copied and reproduced. I have never looked at patenting anything before but what I have made is unique and beautiful that I would like to see about building them for profit as well. Looking for all the feedback I can get. Appreciate your response.

View Ripthorn's profile

Ripthorn

1406 posts in 2452 days


#3 posted 04-16-2016 07:27 PM

There are a couple of options:

First, you can go through the patent process. Be aware that it will easily cost $5-10k between lawyer fees and application fees and the like. Also, it will take a very long time, sometimes up to 5 years before the patent is awarded. Then, if infringement occurs, you are on the hook for all the legal fees unless you win. In most cases, a large company simply drags the process out so long that small guys simply go bankrupt and terminate the suit because they have no more money. On the flip side, if you successfully defend, they pay your legal fees plus all damages, but that is exceedingly rare these days. However, while you wait for protection, it wouldn’t be wise to make them. Putting “patent pending” or “patent applied for” only means that no one else can patent it, not that they can’t make it for profit until a patent decision is made (or at least that is how I understand it).

Second, you could just start building them. Be aware that if you do this, some one else may copy it and seek a patent. If awarded, they can sue you and cause you to cease production. However, you don’t have to wait for protection.

Third, you could release the design to the public. This means you could start building them for profit right away, but so could your neighbor. However, someone else cannot patent it either, since anything in the public domain cannot be patented. That means they can’t sue you, but you can’t sue anyone else either.

Now, I am no lawyer, just some dude, but those are the three most common scenarios in these types of circumstances.

-- Brian T. - Exact science is not an exact science

View clin's profile

clin

514 posts in 463 days


#4 posted 04-16-2016 08:19 PM

A patent is only as good as your pockets are deep to enforce it. Having a patent doesn’t mean the authorities will enforce it for you. It just gives you a legal position to start from.

Also, I wonder whether a patent is appropriate. Is this thing functional in some special way? I.E., is it a better mouse trap. Or is this more of a design issue affecting how it looks?

If it has more to do with how it looks, perhaps a copyright might be more appropriate. I’m no lawyer, but I think copyrights are trivial. Often nothing more than just noting that you claim a copyright on it. Some documentation proving when you came up with the design would of course be important.

I don’t even think it is a requirement to register a copyright, though again, there may be different requirements for different type of copyrights. Something to consider anyway.

-- Clin

View arscifiwriter's profile

arscifiwriter

5 posts in 237 days


#5 posted 04-16-2016 09:26 PM

Thank you all for the great information. I am looking into all aspects of it. It may end up just being public domain because it is also a gift being given this weekend. I am sure it will be on Facebook as soon as the wedding pictures start pouring in.

View Ger21's profile

Ger21

1047 posts in 2598 days


#6 posted 04-16-2016 10:16 PM

Sounds like a copyright may be what you want. You can register one for about $50.
A piece of artwork is copyrighted as soon as it is created. But you need to register it if you want to sue someone for copyright infringement.

-- Gerry, http://www.thecncwoodworker.com/index.html http://www.jointcam.com

View bearkatwood's profile

bearkatwood

1214 posts in 479 days


#7 posted 04-17-2016 12:23 AM

legal zoom does it.

-- Brian Noel

View arscifiwriter's profile

arscifiwriter

5 posts in 237 days


#8 posted 04-17-2016 03:29 PM

Looked at legal zoom as well. Found some very informative sites that show you step by step on how to do a Provisional Patent that is cheaper than a design patent and last for 1 year until you decide if you want to spend the larger amount of money to get the design or utility patent. Less than 200.00 for a Provisional. But you have to get the non-provisional patent within a year or you lose the provisional.

View MNgary's profile

MNgary

295 posts in 1884 days


#9 posted 04-17-2016 04:09 PM

If you want to license to other manufacturers, a patent is essential.

-- I dream of the world where a duck can cross the road and no one asks why.

View Sawdust35's profile

Sawdust35

18 posts in 329 days


#10 posted 04-19-2016 12:11 PM


I am wanting to find out about getting a design patent on a product I have designed and built in my wood shop. who can give me feedback on what steps I should take?

- arscifiwriter

I’ve been heavily involved in patent prosecution for the past 10 years. As stated above, this will cost you $. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is strictly a fee funded U.S. Government agency (i.e., no tax dollars are used to operate this agency). I would suggest you seek legal help if you determine to file a Provisional Application. I would only suggest pursuing “pro se” route if you are experienced with patent filings and the examination process. Regardless of the route you decide to pursue, visit www.uspto.gov/patent to learn more about the process. You may qualify for “Micro Entity” status, which means your fee rates are far lower compared to what a large corporation would pay.

In general the patent process is as follows: Provisional applications can be filed, however, patents are not issued from these applications. Rather, non-provisionals can be filed within one year of the provisional. Non-provisional applications are reviewed for patentability. Depending on the technology field this can take 12-36 months to hear back about the initial review of the application. I have had applications go to issuance in 12 months and some take 6 years. If the application passes the required statutes for patent examination, it is then issued as a U.S. Patent. Inventors file patent applications, they don’t file “Patents”. Activities in other countries factor into whether the claimed invention in the U.S. application can be patented (did the global public know about the invention before your filing date). At least 60% of the applications I have been involved in do not mature into a U.S. patent and eventually go abandoned. It depends on the technology and the field of endeavor.

Labeling a product “patent pending” merely alerts competitors that you are pursuing patent protection. However, this does not afford you any protection in a court of law and that “competitor” could still file an application if they have evidence that they too were working on such a product.

View Scott C.'s profile

Scott C.

149 posts in 1518 days


#11 posted 04-19-2016 01:46 PM

Copyrights are more for published works (i.e. audio recordings, books, plans etc.) If the aesthetic design is what you want protected it would be a design patent, which I believe is even more difficult to obtain and enforce.

Patent law in this country is pretty messed up and really favors the big guys. Unless this is something especially unique and profitable, it’s probably more trouble then it’s worth, it’s really only useful to scare off smaller competiters. Here’s a good article regarding the different kinds of patents and their applicability to woodworking: http://www.popularwoodworking.com/interviews/imitation-illegal

-- measure twice, cut once, swear and start over.

View Matt's profile (online now)

Matt

95 posts in 418 days


#12 posted 04-20-2016 05:03 PM

I’ve worked with these guys before and I was very happy with the results. They are easy to work with and have a good patent search product. I didn’t go much further in the process (for many of the reason’s listed above), but I also felt that the search money was well spent even after doing my own search. Their search confirmed my search, but also provided valuable feeback and better defined and/or explained results. You do get what you pay for, at least that was my experience, this was July, 15’

http://www.thoughtstopaper.com/

Edit: I’ll add – A lot of above is what swayed my decision. Sadly unless you’re patenting a 95% efficient piston engine or a bored billionaire with a patent attorney on speed dial, the cost likely won’t justify the gains. From the perspective of a fellow think outside the box’er I wish you the best of luck with whatever path you choose!

-- My "projects" always look better with beer goggles.

View nerdbot's profile

nerdbot

97 posts in 828 days


#13 posted 04-20-2016 07:28 PM

Just to add another data point – A friend of mine has a product she sells, a particular slogan with her own artwork on a t-shirt that’s also patent pending. She also has a pretty strong following on social media, friends and customers who are familiar with her product and designs. A few weeks ago, someone discovered someone had copied her design and claimed it as their own. Social media put a stop to that pretty quick. Not sure if that applies to your business model, but if your design is extremely recognizable and you have a good following, you might be able to deter some of the smaller attempts to copy your design.

View Aidan1211's profile

Aidan1211

189 posts in 293 days


#14 posted 04-20-2016 08:39 PM

You can spend your life savings and that of another dozen wealthy men and you’ll not find an attorney that can get you the protection you want. You can patent hardware new never seen before joinery (good luck there) but you can’t patent a piece of furniture. I was a full time professional designer for 8 years and when a few of my pieces got knocked off by our find friends in China there was NOTHING I could do about it. I spent a lot of money with a lot of lawyers and ended up just nowhere and with less money than I started with due to the attorneys fees.
Until our government passes laws that protect intellectual rights for someone that makes furniture or other case goods good luck. You can copyright a design but can’t fully patent it. If you find an attorney that promises full patent protection run he’s looking for a sweet payday. Because he can rack up a lot of hours on research. Not trying to be negative but I lost a ton of money because I wasn’t informed. Just trying to spare you the same bad luck.

-- its better to plan on the task at hand than actually doing it........ You look smarter.

View Aidan1211's profile

Aidan1211

189 posts in 293 days


#15 posted 04-20-2016 08:43 PM

You can copyright a design via a paper or digital shop drawing. It falls under the same category as art if you were to argue it. The issue becomes more problematic when the thief doesn’t actually draw it but makes it in a different form i.e. Woodworking


Copyrights are more for published works (i.e. audio recordings, books, plans etc.) If the aesthetic design is what you want protected it would be a design patent, which I believe is even more difficult to obtain and enforce.

Patent law in this country is pretty messed up and really favors the big guys. Unless this is something especially unique and profitable, it s probably more trouble then it s worth, it s really only useful to scare off smaller competiters. Here s a good article regarding the different kinds of patents and their applicability to woodworking: http://www.popularwoodworking.com/interviews/imitation-illegal

- Scott C.


-- its better to plan on the task at hand than actually doing it........ You look smarter.

showing 1 through 15 of 22 replies

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics

HomeRefurbers.com