Let's say that I had an idea, which I soon turned into reality but then discovered that it is patented already... So the question is: Can I still legally sell my product although it is patented by someone else?

If not, I have an important follow up question: Let's take Kickstarter for example, people are selling 3D printers as their inventions but there already so many patents on 3D printers and some aspects of 3D printing, so how is it possible?

Thank you in advance!

  • Most hobbies 3D printers use fused filament deposition. The patents for this have already expired which is why they can use the technology.
    – Eric S
    Aug 8, 2018 at 23:44

2 Answers 2


Can I legally sell product although it is patented?

Patents are territorial rights so therefore if product is patented in US and no patent exist in Canada you can sell product produced in canada.

But in US you cannot sell product. US patent also covers manufacturing - so you cannot manufacture in US and export to canada.

3D printers

I am not sure about your question but it seems that if basic technology is covered by same specific patents then licenses might be issued. there might be instances that basic hardware was purchased from innovator and assembled with some kind of contract. if basic technology is out of protection then method or process of production should be different for all manufacturers.

in nut shell it depends on claims of patent which covers 3D printing.


The first step is to determine whether your idea is actually "patented" as you assume. Make sure that the patent you are referring to is an issued patent (as opposed to a published application) and that if it is issued, that it's still enforceable. Also, the scope of patent protection is determined by the claims of an issued patent, not what is in the drawings and/or specification, so you need to look to the claims to determine whether your idea might actually be covered by this patent. I would suggest you talk with a patent attorney before making any determinations regarding patentability and/or potential infringement of your idea.

(For more info on determining whether an idea is patentable check out my blog post: Are Ideas Patentable? Is Your Idea Patentable?)

As to your second question, patents may relate to a given technology (e.g., 3D printing), but the patent coverage is typically more narrow that it initially seems based on the specification and drawings (again, the patent claims define the true scope of protection). In short, all these 3D printer patents that you refer to protect their own discrete aspects of of a given technology.

  • It seems like the implication you're making is that it's acceptable to continue on with a early-stage business in light of an application on which you would be infringing being still in the pre-grant stage. While legally accurate, certainly, I'm not sure that would be considered a very wise practice. Certainly one should lend less weight to an application than a patent, but chances are that if the application describes exactly what you'd hope to build a business doing, it will likely be eventually granted (in one form or another), and you'd have to cease business at that point. Mar 11, 2015 at 7:42
  • 2
    To the contrary, my point is that a person should be careful not to make their own assessment of patentability without proper counsel. I see far to many inventors abandon great ideas and/or businesses because they see patents that appear to create infringement or patentability issues, when in fact they do not. Mar 11, 2015 at 19:43
  • 1
    Good answer. For completeness, you may want to add details on next steps, for example something regarding licensing as an option in the case the product is going to infringe.
    – JDMc
    Mar 11, 2015 at 21:52

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