I have tried searching this answer till i am blue in the face, but it is difficult for me to interpret other examples to my situation. I'll keep it short:

(For the sake of discretion, I will use an example. The items described, are not what i am assembling...just an example.)

  1. If you assemble a bread-toaster mechanism, inside of a 5 gallon bucket with controls mounted on bucket... What sort of patent would that be, and would it: protect me from anyone else from being able to mfg/marketing a "toaster in a 5 gallon bucket" in combination?

2.) If I wanted to mount a standard bench grinder inside a 5 gallon bucket with just the wheel poking thru the lid, would that stop others from being able to manufacture/market a "grinder in a bucket" combo?

Obviously, I am not the inventor of either item (toaster or bucket), they are readily available on the market for anyone. But my question pertains to the combination of 2 items together,

(specifically, doing something with a bucket that has never been done, and the fact that it is encased in a bucket, is important. No other vessel that can hold the weight that a bucket can, is available anywhere near as cheap as a bucket, thus: If I can protect the act of putting it into a bucket form, nobody can produce it for anywhere near my price.)

And what sort of patent would this be? A utility patent?

Thank you for any help you can give,



The answer, as you may have guessed, is maybe. Combining two known things in a new, useful, and non-obvious way is the essence of almost any invention. For example, a lightbulb is just a combination of previously known elements.

There are at least two things to be concerned about:

1) has anyone done this before.
If so, your invention may be anticipated and thus not patentable.

2) would it be obvious to do this.
The law on this is more complicated than you might expect, but I'll use your example. If a lot of people in the bucket business have been writing articles about how useful it would be to have a toaster in their buckets, and if all you did was make a bucket out of a material that wouldn't melt (but people knew you could make buckets out of that material), then your invention might be obvious.

If it's neither anticipated nor obvious, and if it meets the other basic requirements for a patent, ultimately you might get a utility patent.

As to the scope of protection the patent would give you, it depends on the claims that ultimately issue. You may be able to get a very broad patent on a toaster in a bucket (but I doubt it -- simply putting a toaster in a bucket must certainly have been done before by someone moving house or shopping). You're more likely to get a patent that's specific to how the toaster and bucket are combined. Going back to the lightbulb example, the patents don't cover simply mixing all the elements together. They cover specific combinations or types of combinations such that the combination "works" for some purpose.

Again, this is a very non-specific answer, meant to give you some ideas. It's not legal advice and may not apply to your particular situation.

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