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Company A has a type of dispenser I want to use.

Company B makes a product that is not dispensed via Company A's dispenser. I would like it to be.

Is there any way for me combine these and make any money or patent?

Both Company A and B have patents on their products.

I had originally developed a dispenser similar to company A's product, until I found theirs in the patent database. I'd like to move forward with my invention, but I don't know whether I have any legal grounds to do so.

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If your plan is to use company A's dispenser as-is, then you clearly can't get any apparatus claims.

You might be able to write a patent with only method claims, on the order of:

A method of dispensing [product B], consisting of the following steps: [ Steps to use dispenser A].

Unless you can show substantial differences between product B, and whatever is normally dispensed from product A, chances are that this isn't going to get very far though.

For example, if product A is normally used to dispense liquids within some fairly specific viscosity range, and product B isn't a liquid at all, but the specific combination of A and B works well because of some way they interact that wouldn't have been obvious or predictable, then you might stand a chance of getting a patent.

If, however, product B has a different purpose, but from a viewpoint of dispensing is substantially similar to whatever product A normally dispenses, then you probably don't have any basis for a patent (e.g., noticing that gravy and shampoo are both thick liquids, so the same type of dispenser works for either one probably won't qualify as a basis for a patent).

Even if you can get a patent, it would only cover actual use of dispenser A to dispense product B. If somebody else tries to go into the market selling dispenser A pre-filled with product B, you might stand a good chance of enforcing the patent against them. If the two simply continue to be sold separately, essentially your only route to accuse either of infringement would be proving that the company was aware of your patent covering the combination, and specifically encouraged customers to use the combination anyway (i.e., nearly impossible to prove unless you can find some letter/memo/email directly admitting guilt.

Summary (to quote the magic 8-ball): "Outlook not so good".

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This depends substantially on many details. You would, at a minimum, need to show an "inventive step", which would be something both novel and non-obvious. If A dispenses soap and B is a soap, you're probably out of luck.

  • Thanks for the help! No, A is more for pharmaceutical industry. Product B is totally not related, and there is no comparable dispensing method for product b. Where's my patent though? What am I patenting? – char E Feb 7 '16 at 1:00

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