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Discussion Starter #1
Hi! I'm a novice woodworker, but I've got an idea for something I want to make and sell. My friends are telling me that I need to get a patent or copyright or something for my designs so other people won't be able to use them. Is this really important or necessary???

Any thoughts or advice would be appreciated!

Stephanie
 

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I think that there is a couple of people here who have marketed some stuff so hopfully they will chime in.

I would think that you would want to but hear it is a time consuming process.
 

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That is a tough question, being a little vague and all. Do a patent search...it may already be patented :blink: http://www.google.com/patents . There are different ways to protect your "intelectual property" copywriting is not probably the route for a product, but it can be trademarked. I wrestled with the idea when I came up with these. http://woodallures.com/ . I found out it was not worth the hassle, nobody wanted to steal my idea :laughing: (not enought $ and too much work). I bet you could get a free/cheap consult with a patent attorney, he would probably give better advice than this lot.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Sorry I wasn't more specific. I have come up with designs for special chairs for children in "spica" casts (armpits to ankles) for hip problems. My daughter has had to have hip surgery twice and she was in a spica cast for 3 months each time. The second time I got smart and designed a chair that would allow her to sit up and play with her toys. I looked all over the internet for chairs like these, but the only ones I found were from hospital supply companies, and they were really expensive and UGLY! LOL I thought it might be a good idea to start a business making chairs for other kids in spica casts that would be inexpensive, functional and let kids be able to have as much fun as possible while they were in their casts.

I did find one patent for a spica chair, but it was nothing like mine. I just wonder if I really need to be worried about "competition"? My main goal is to make these chairs available to other parents like me who have a special needs child. Each chair would be custom made and hand painted, so I don't know if you can even patent something like that? (I will be using the same basic patterns, but they will be custom fit for each child)

Any thoughts???

Stephanie
 

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I don't kow how large the market would be, But I would guess small....so I doubt it would be worth obtaining a patent...maybe you should just contact the support group and make your chairs available on a custom basis, or something like that.
 

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Welcome Arymanth.
I would like to encourage you on this. But you are getting the cart before the horse. You need to approach someone in your church/social circle/sphere of influence who has the money and inclination to persue this with you.
The market is quite big depending on your perspective. One child is a big market if their life is changed in a significantly positive way but there are thousands of kids who need your product!
It takes money and time. There is no way around that. If you can eek out the time, and find some deep pockets in your church or social circle, you can pull it off.
You would be suprised how many decent wealthy men and women there are who are looking for a worthy cause to support. Start asking around and don't be discouraged by that two letter word.
Forget the patent for now. Anyone can get a patent on practically anything these days - you need money first and lots of it. Sad but true.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks for the advice!

I don't think I'm going to worry about the copyright/patent thing for now. The only reason I even asked was because several people have insisted that I "need" to do this before I started selling my chairs so someone else doesn't "steal" my ideas. I guess I am just not that worried about that aspect of it, my chairs are not just a "design", they are individual works of art... and heart! I just wanted to make sure I wasn't being too naive about this. :) I am planning on making these chairs on a custom order basis anyway, so I won't need a lot of money to start, and I'm not in any hurry to expand. Right now I just want to figure out how to improve my designs to make them sturdy, durable and functional.

I am so glad I found this site! As I mentioned, I'm a beginner in woodworking and there is so much I want to learn! I'm sure I will be asking lots of questions in the future! :)

Thanks again for your help!

Stephanie
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Just build your chairs and take lots of pictures of those smiley faces when they plop down into their first truly comfy hunker!
You mean like this?;)




That's my little girl in the spica chair I made for her. :icon_cheesygrin: I probably wouldn't make this one again, it's HUGE and I made a lot of mistakes with it, but she loves it! (I have definitely got to get better tools, I made this one with just a jigsaw and a drill!)

Thanks for the encouragement!

Stephanie
 

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Discussion Starter #12
The way you let those bottom stretchers into the side profiles instead of just butting them and screwing them is quite intuitive. You chose the best joinery for that purpose did you know that?
I didn't even realize I would need the stretchers until I got everything put together.:blush: I really started with just a vague idea of what I wanted and I just improvised everything as I went along. I took that chair apart a dozen times before I figured out how to make things fit the way I needed them to. I added the toybox on the back because I had to have something to counterbalance the heavy tray on the front, but I forgot to include the weight of actual toys in the back. It works great, as long as she only has a few light toys on the back, but if you load her up with something heavy, she tips backwards! LOL It really does rock, though! It's a little bumpy in spots, but she can really get that chair rocking! I used a Little Tykes rocking horse to trace the outline of the bottom to get the right curve, and I rounded off the ends of the runners so she couldn't tip too far. It even has a little hidden drawer under the tray to keep crayons and stuff. (I'm pretty proud of that little chair!) :icon_biggrin:

That was actually my second attempt...the first one didn't work out as well:


I didn't make the base wide enough and when my daughter got excited and started wiggling it threatened to tip over. That's where I got the idea to make it a rocking chair, so she could have a little more movement. This one was still a pretty good chair, it just needed a few alterations.

I have so many ideas, but I don't have the skills yet to make them properly. I've been reading every book on woodworking I can get from the library and this weekend I'm planning to build my first workbench! :clap:

Thanks for the encouragment!
 

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Sounds like you have a great idea. Unfortunatly, since you have publicly posted it you no longer will qualify for a patent. The rules are pretty stingent.

We have patented 8 different items in the last 14 years and if there is one thing we have learned, if your idea is worthy, the patent is only as good as your ability to defend it in court, which averages $300,00+ according to our Patent attorney. We have seen some cases go upwards of several million.

One of our first patents ended up costing us $130,000 in court just to get it back in our corporate name becuase of a past partner who thought he could register all the paper work in his own name and get away with it. I cant imagine what it would cost to go after someone who copies it. :huh:

I think your idea still has merit though and realize that thousands of people sell there products without any patents!

Good Luck!
 

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I did a patent pending once. Never again. Although mine was not a run away seller, I learned. Now please understand that this is my opion only. Do not use it for advice until you check around.
I wouuld never get a patent for these reason:
Too much money that will be wasted because
If it's a good idea then the imports will make it anyway and make you take them to court.
Even if you win it will cost very much money and take a long time to settle.
Any change to your design however minor can be claimed as an improvement and therefore not covered under your patent.
I do work for some who buy there competors products and reverse engeneer it and make a few changes then patent the new design. (I'm not going to say who my customer is but trust me, they all do it).

I think what your doing is greast. I had done a little work in products for handicaps and was amazed how much help is out there for inventors of these items. I'm sorry but that was a few years ago so I don't have any directions where you can get help, I just know it's out there if you look.

Mike
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Sounds like you have a great idea. Unfortunatly, since you have publicly posted it you no longer will qualify for a patent. The rules are pretty stingent.
I didn't post anything I planned to reproduce, the rocking boat chair was a one-of-a-kind project. I like the general idea, but it's much too big and heavy to be very practical. (it takes up almost all the space in our small living room!) But it was a good jumping off point for my other ideas. I plan to offer free instructions for making the second chair (with modifications) on my website when I get it together, so anyone who needs one can make their own. I know there are probably lots of people like me who could never afford to buy a chair, but could probably make one themselves. (I made mine with just a jigsaw and some plywood and wood scraps I had onhand) I WANT people to copy that one. :yes:

I think I'm going to treat my chairs as individual works of art, each one will probably need to be custom made anyway, and I have dozens of ideas for different variations. I can't wait to get started on them! (I'm starting work on a chair for a little girl who will be going into a cast in a couple weeks.)

Thanks for the info!!!
 

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Arymanth,
Great idea, and a very worthy cause.

Having gone thru the patent process, I would not discourage you from it.

If your would like to investigate the idea of pursuing it, I can recommend a very good patent attorney, where you can pick his brains, to determine if you want to go further with it. There is no cost for that.

One thing NOT to do is get involved with the invention promotion services advertised everywhere. According to United States Patent Office, most of them are scams.

Much online information can be learned by vsiting the Patent Office website @ uspto.gov website. You can file a provisional patent yourself if you desire. All information is available at this site.

Feel free to email me for the attorney contact information, at: [email protected]
 

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Stephanie,

You are absolutely correct that you have posted nothing that would compromise your chances for a patent.

If you did decide to patent one or more of your chairs, you would be going for a utility patent which would consist of one or more "claims" that are "novel" - certain aspects of your chair for which there is no previous evidence of their being used before. You can copy previous patents that have expired, add some novel benefits over the previously patented chairs, for example, and your patent will protect those benefits you added over the "prior art".

Right now I just want to figure out how to improve my designs to make them sturdy, durable and functional.
Those improvements you want to figure out may be exactly the elements needed for a patent.

Someone else, of course, can do the same with the same previous patent, but they cannot incorporate any of your "claims" as detailed in your patent.


As far as the value of patents, it depends upon whether you want to make a real business of selling your product. Then, if you come up with some novel methods of construction or combinations of functions - it may be worth it to you.

It was worth it to me to patent my product. I'm glad I did, because the Chinese have cloned my product in the last year and are selling it in Europe through at least one woodworking supply chain. I did not seek patent protection outside the US, so there is nothing I can do about it. However, the US is the biggest market, by far, for my product and you can bet your bottom dollar the clones would be here if I did not have a US utility patent.

But as far as "needing" a patent to produce and sell your product - that is hogwash.

You obviously have an enthusiastic attitude, and that is far more important than a patent without that attitude. If you pursue your goal with that same attitude, you will be surprised at how many good things will just fall into place at exactly the right time - and often just in the nick of time.

Best of luck to you - your painting is wonderful.

Regards,
Jimc
 
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