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Old 16th December 2010, 06:48 AM   #1
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Default New idea in the construction of amps-advice requested

Hello, I am an RN by trade, a tinkerer, novice amp tech and guitar player. Sometimes a fresh idea can come from someone "outside" of the industry. I used to work in engineering area with a company that built aircraft and have always tried "to do it myself". I have found joy in learning about how things work and how to fix them. My new interest in guitar amps has led me to realize that I can significantly improve amp construction quality by combining my prior knowledge of aircraft building to the amplifier build. I cannot say exactly what the technique is but I believe top quality amp builders will all want to use this technology I have created. There could also be industrial or military applications of this product. The advice I am looking for is this: should I patent the idea and sell it to amp builders/industry or should I team up with an amp building company with my idea and use it in production of new amps with this new technology that I have invented? There is nothing like it out there and it will work very well. I would appreciate your input. Thanks, Roy
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Old 16th December 2010, 03:28 PM   #2
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The monetary and labour costs can be enormous! Do a cost/benefit analysis. You start with a patent search, conducted by people with experience (often a law firm) in that field.

Also by most laws: If the invention is due to an employment engagement, your employer owns the invention. You get a nice mention on a piece of paper.

Allways remember the old saw: First I had the money and they had the experience, now they have the money and I have the experince!

That one bit me a few times!
E
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Old 16th December 2010, 03:57 PM   #3
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Obtaining a patent is not so difficult, you can do it yourself, certainly in this country (UK) the initial application is free.

A patent must comprise an invention, so a technique may not be patentable.

Firstly, you can't tell anybody what the idea is without binding them contractually to keep your confidence. One it becomes public knowledge, it's public knowledge.

You write a description of the claim, making it as comprehensive as possible, so that somebody can't come along, vary some detail and submit a competing claim. Include diagrams if relevant. Look at some specimen claims. You submit it to the patent office accompanied by the appropriate (downloadable) forms. You then have a year in which to produce a working prototype. This is the UK process.

The best source for advice in your case will be the USPTO:Patents From a quick look it looks like you can make a provisional application for $10.

Good luck.

w
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Old 17th December 2010, 10:51 AM   #4
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Thank you so much for the advise, and no this was not employment related, came straight out of my brain. Once I have secured the patent I will disclose it here first and I think you will agree that "what the hell, why hasn't someone done this before, its so freakin simple". Applications possible for a multitude of industies and the military. Thanks again, its off to the lawyer I go! Roy
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Old 17th December 2010, 11:23 AM   #5
SY is offline SY  United States
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Your investment to get a patent will be $15k or more if you want coverage in Europe and the US (Europe is particularly hostile to independent inventors, the system is rigged to favor large companies, the US is much better that way). Defending the patent can run $500k or more, and if it's actually useful to someone, you WILL have to defend it. Time to do a cost-benefit analysis: will this patent be likely to throw off $10MM or more to you? If the answer is "no," then it's probably not worth pursuing.
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Old 17th December 2010, 01:04 PM   #6
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Have you at least attempted a reasonably thorough USPTO keyphrase search to determine if your concept is novel? If, as you say, the concept is so obvious as to be a no-brainer, then it is quite possible it is not novel...someone may have tried it and found it didn't pan out or there may be an existing patent. Just for grins I went to USTPO site & typed in "guitar amplifier" and "aircraft" and got 4 hits. You can do a much more relevant search since you know the important keyphrases.
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Old 17th December 2010, 01:17 PM   #7
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An alternative option might be to publish enough of it to stop someone else patenting it, then try to offer your services as a consultant to anyone who shows interest. If you have thought of it then someone else may do too.

I have had two bright ideas. The first turned out to have been patented by someone in the US about a year before I had the idea, although I don't think he fully understood what he was doing so he was not so aware of potential snags. The second was patented by someone in Europe at about the same time as I thought of it.

This suggests that when the time for an idea has arrived, several people may think of it independently. It also seems to confirm that what I thought were bright ideas were indeed bright ideas, which I find encouraging. Now I just need to have another one, but first this time!

Finally, remember that some parts of the world with lots of spare factory capacity do not appreciate our Western ideas about intellectual property theft so a patent won't stop them from producing cheap copies. I have heard stories of factories which produce widgets under contract to Bloggs, the original designer - for every one coming out the front door with Bloggs name and logo on it, several went out the back door with someone elses logo on it.
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Old 18th December 2010, 11:14 AM   #8
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I saw my lawyer and he said I needed to go to a real patent attorney and it is going to cost more than I have to pursue that option. I have a protoype and drawings. I am going to explore how to source contracts from the military as well as industry. They have specs to achieve a result and the design of that could be any way you want to build it. I am very afraid that someone will screw me over on this one, take the idea and fly with it. Only one other person (very trusted) besides me knows what I am doing and I plan to keep it that way until I can get some kind of fair compensation. There are so many applications for this its sort of like the computer chip. I think my best bet is going to be to partner up with a company with the proper resources and take a small piece of the overall pie. We do live in a corporate world and it is hard to start up anything. The whole idea of what is intellectual property is pretty blurry!
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Old 18th December 2010, 11:39 AM   #9
SY is offline SY  United States
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Actually, start-ups aren't that tough (I've done three of them) IF you have a clear idea of who your customers are and how you get compensated. You need to start by writing a business plan.

As far as protection goes, file a provisional before shopping anything around; you can do that yourself pretty easily. Until you determine if you can get a valid patent, only show your idea under a nondisclosure agreement- you can find forms for that and the provisional filing at Nolo Press. If your idea is as you describe it, the overwhelming probability is that there's prior art, so go in with that expectation in mind.

And be realistic- 95% of inventions make no money, and 95% of the ones that do make money make no money for the inventor. That's just the way it is.
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Old 18th December 2010, 12:19 PM   #10
marce is offline marce  United Kingdom
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Dont know what the law is in the US, but here in the UK if you are a designer for a firm then any IP belongs to the firm, including any patentable ideas. If you dont work for anyone it your idea and your IP.
That said its best to have some backing cos there is a lot of sharks in business, and not a lot of altruism.
Good Luck.
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