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I have recently thought of an interesting and potentially very successful idea that could be implemented in 2-3 years. It would have at least a EU, or even a worldwide span. However, I have no experience at all, don't really have enough money to even file a patent according to the current EU patent office fees, no real registered company and no partners. Should I look for money to get a patent, and if not, what steps should I undertake first?

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3 Answers 3

I think these other answers are diving into the weeds on patent-eligibility when the poster really means, "Can I patent something that I haven't built yet?"

"Is it possible to patent something that is purely an idea?"

Yes, it is possible to patent something that you've never actually built. If you've come up with an invention but don't have the money to build it, you merely have to be able to describe it so that an ordinary craftsman in whatever field you're working in could look at what you've described and then build it. Essentially, you don't have to actually build a new type of bicycle, you just have to write down /draw enough such that a bicycle builder could look at your patent and know how to build the new type of bicycle.

Article 83 of the European Patent Convention:

. . . the European patent application shall disclose the invention in a manner sufficiently clear and complete for it to be carried out by the skilled person . . .

"Should I look for money to get a patent, and if not, what steps should I undertake first?"

This is more of a business question than a patent law question and will overwhelmingly require a deeper knowledge of your invention and the industry. Patents are useful in your situation in two ways: (1) the become a piece of property you can sell or license to someone else (who might manufacture your product), or (2) they protect your own business from people copying your idea. In the former case, you'll need to find partners who want to pay you to build your invention. In the latter case, you'll need to actually build a business around your product, and then use the patent as a defensive measure. In either event, you will want to talk to a patent attorney about your specific invention.

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First - the word "idea" equals "not patentable" - stay away from the word idea. Concept is a much better word to use. Some concepts include a basic implementation and can be patented without you knowing exactly what the dimensions are, the material to use to make it economically. Or you might hire someone to supply non-inventive enablement help. On the other hand some concepts are only a wish that something could exist. That would not be patentable.

To take the chair example - If you had the concept "there should be a horizontal surface about as big as your rear-end that is held about 2 feet off of the ground somehow so people could remain in one place without their full weight being supported by their legs and feet" that is not an invention. Add in, "the seat portion will be held up by three or more legs" and may be you have an invention.

You can patent a method of sitting in seat. A novel way might include a hot air balloon to get up over it, ropes to guide you down and someone throwing you sandbags.

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It's hard to know what you should do without knowing what your idea is. So it might be a good idea to speak with a patent attorney.

The gist is no. You cannot patent an idea. Patents are on implementations. For instance, you can patent chair, but you can't patent the idea of sitting down.

I'd really suggest your first step to be talking to a patent attorney to figure out the right course.

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