Take the 2-minute tour ×
Ask Patents is a question and answer site for people interested in improving and participating in the patent system. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I have spent a few months building a web based service, and am quite excited about the result/idea/potential. I came up with the idea entirely on my own as a result of a personal experience. I instantly knew what I wanted to call the product also.

As I near the launch date, I did a quick search for a name similar to what I am planning on calling my product (I really like the name I chose). Unfortunately, I found a really short and unprofessional powerpoint which seems to have been made by some software engineering students vaguely describing the product I built (my product is very different, but the core goal is admittedly quite similar). I wouldn't expect this to be a big problem, but since the name they proposed is similar also, I'm a bit concerned. There is nothing more on the internet about that project, and it is a 3 year old document (that project seems to have never been actually built).

I own the domain name for my product, but that's about it.

Is there anything I should be concerned about, or should I just carry on? I don't intend on filing a patent or anything.

Thanks.

share|improve this question

2 Answers 2

up vote 0 down vote accepted

What someone else (person A) did, and published, in the past would be useable as "prior art" to a patent you might file. Since you don't care about getting a patent yourself this is irrelevant. You do care about building a product and worry about someone coming after you. If the person with the earlier version of your idea never filed anything, than he wouldn't ever get a patent to use against you. The last case is that of a third party (person B) who independently developed the idea after person A's publication and filed an application. Person A's powerpoint could be used to try to show that person B's invention was not novel or was obvious at the time. That helps you.

share|improve this answer
    
Great info, very clearly explained - thank you. I basically wanted to make sure that if I build something after a lot of hard work which succeeds, people who claim to have had a similar idea with a similar name but have done nothing about it can't cause any trouble. Thanks for the reassurance, George. –  seyelent Dec 7 '13 at 1:07
    
I didn't mean to be overly reassuring. Anything you do that is above and beyond or is not clear in the student's powerpoint is something someone else could have invented after that post but before you unveil your product. And they could file on it. Also someone could have invented it and patented it before that post or in spite of that post. And I have no input on the "similar name" topic. That is a very separte trademark issue. –  George White Dec 7 '13 at 1:12
    
Right, I understand. The core idea is nothing very innovative, but no one has really implemented it well. The reason I was more concerned was because someone else presented the same idea with a very similar name as well - that worried me a bit, but it seems that should not matter unless we are discussing trademarks. Otherwise, I have found several other services out there which aim to achieve the same purpose - my method is simply a bit different and more complete. –  seyelent Dec 7 '13 at 1:49

What you are asking is more of a trademark issue than a patent issue.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.