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DidierKlein

From idea to patented object

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Hi all,

Let's say i've imagined something very usefull, created a prototype on my Ultimaker, tested it and validated that it works as it's supposed too.

Now let's say this idea is potentially very interesting and could be produced in large quantities (not with my printer).

Should the product be patented? If yes, does anybody know what the steps for this are? And how much it costs?

Should be patented probably in Europe only.

Another kind of related question is, how to you go from your prototype to larger building quantities?

 

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About patents:

The most important thing is already done. You have a proof that it works as it should.

The usual way for an individual is to sit down with a patent agent of your choice and have a look at the invention. Then the agent does two things: writing up patent specifications (it's a very special language) and does some checks if your invention violates any existing patents. If everything is ok, the agent submits a so-called priority application. I think it's usually one year it takes for your national patent office to check if it can be granted. After that time, it goes internationally (you have to specify the countries you want it to be granted) and is being published. During another year (I'm not completely sure about the times) other patent owners can object against your patent if they think you violate their patents. If this doesn't happen (it usually does; then your patent agent has to write statements about it) or after everything is settled in your favour, the patent is granted in each country you applied for. From that point on, you have to pay a yearly amount to each of the countries.

btw: Usually, applying makes sense in any developed country and the emerging market countries as e.g. Brasil. Forget about China and India. Patents are worth nothing there...

So, your first step would be to find a patent agent. How? The national patent office may have a list of agents; pick one out...

About manufacturing:

For mass production, one usually makes a tool, e.g. for injection moulding. Such tools are very expensive (starting at 20'000 dollars up to millions). Before a tool can be made, the part(s) have to be redesigned in a way that it can be produced with this production method (e.g. one has to adjust angles for the very material it has to be made of). This is called design for manufacturing. Usually quite heavy simulations for e.g. mould flow have to be made.

There are other manufacturing methods in between 3D printing and injection moulding such as tools made from silicone which can be used for up to 100 parts until you need a new tool.

So, one step after the other. First talk to a patent agent. And very important: don't publish anything. If you e.g. would write about what it does here in the forum, you would loose the possibility for application. It must be previously unpublished.

 

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Hey Didier

Firstly, you should get yourself an NDA. This is a Non-Disclosure Agreement and you can download documents free online and then change them accordingly with your details etc. It is basically the first step you can take to protect your idea when talking to anyone such as potential suppliers, designers, tooling engineers or distributors etc. When you discuss your idea with anybody, ask them to sign the NDA. Legally binding document.

Patents can be expensive. If you would look to cover the whole of Europe then you may need deep pockets. Secondly, and something most small businesses often forget is this. If say your patent is granted in the first place, then somebody comes out with a similar design that may or may not infringe your patent, have you got the sums of cash required to enter a court case, pay for the legal team etc to defend your design ? I have been in a court case over a design dispute and the fees were £5000 per day, with no limit on the time scales.

I agree with Dim3 too, forget about the Asian markets. Copies of the apple phone are all over china and nothing really gets done about it... although the Chinese government is starting to make good progress with IP.

I hope you have a great idea, but do your own research before spending any money on agents etc. It is incredibly difficult to come up with ideas which are original and of benefit which would really need a patent. You can do your own preliminary searches on sites such as espacenet, I think it is www.epo.org.

Mass production is a whole different ball game. Would be able to advise you a lot more once we knew more details, such as preferred materials, manufacturing process etc.

Sounds exciting :)

 

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You never know! You could of just thought of the next best thing in the world and make GaZillionTrillions :)

Always happy to help if you need any more info. I`m working on patenting an idea at the moment and will be talking with my Chinese agent for supply ideas very soon :)

 

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Yes 3D printing is now making it even easier for the average person to re-design something and get a pretty good idea of the ground much quicker.

I have been working in design for quite a long time, and have a lot of good contacts in manufacturing etc, both in the UK and in China :p If you ever need a supplier let me know lol

 

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I wouldn't be put off by the cost of injection molding - we build production parts all the time, and with the right partner and part design, you could easily get an injection mold for sub $5K. Same with DFM - it's a tricky process, but with a few hours of light reading and a few competent hours in CAD, you can get 90% of the way there - and then your injection molding factory will help you get the rest of the way.

 

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