i have an idea to create a machine that use electric motor (which is an invention that is created by someone else long time ago). do i have to pay the electric motor inventor some money to be eligible to use it? if so how much percentage? and what if i have more then one other invention that is used in the machine that i created? i tried to do research on google but cant seem to find the answer please help

3 Answers 3


It depends. There are many patents on electrical motors. If you infringe one of them, that could cost you money. Either in form of getting sued or by paying license fees. However there might also be forms of electrical motors that are not protected.

The problem is, there is not the patent for electrical motors, but there are many.

Anyways, if you buy the motor instead of building it yourself, chances your supplier pays license fees for selling them are good. In that case you would probably not have to pay extra.

The same applies for multiple components. Worst case would be having to pay for all of them, best case they are not protected or you pay already by buying them.

You have two ways there, you start researching a lot (or let a professional do this) or you say 'I'm lucky' and hope that nobody notices or cares. That is dangerous, but tbh many people choose to do it this way as it's cheaper and normally you won't get sued directly but rather asked to pay fees first if somebody does care. This is not supposed to be any advice, just a listing of your possibilities. Advice on this can't be given without extensive information and research.

  • what happen if i bought the motor from a manufacturer from china and it turn out they dont have a license can i still get sued?
    – jakson
    Commented Jan 15, 2017 at 13:41
  • Yes, unfortunately it is your responsibility to make sure.
    – user18033
    Commented Jan 15, 2017 at 14:52
  • As long as you buy your motor from a reputable manufacturer like Mabuchi, you'll be fine.
    – Eric S
    Commented Jan 15, 2017 at 15:48
  • I disagree, you could even infringe a patent by combining the motor in a certain way or infringe a local patent. Plus, many big firms care about patent infringement only after getting sued or put on notice.
    – user18033
    Commented Jan 15, 2017 at 16:13
  • The questioner asked if he would have to pay a license to use the motor. If you buy motors from reputable sources the answer is simply no. This says nothing about the rest of the device which does have to be evaluated for freedom to operate.
    – Eric S
    Commented Jan 15, 2017 at 18:19

If you are asking specifically about the motor, then if you buy a motor from a reputable manufacturer the the answer is almost assuredly you won't have to pay a license fee. The motor manufacturer pays them if necessary in order to be able to sell the motor. If you are concerned, you can ask the motor vendor if there are any licensing issues. Most companies I've worked for have purchasing departments who do establish with the vendor that licensing in the markets served is acceptable.

This says nothing about whether the product the motor is a part of can be sold without establishing its freedom to operate. Depending on how you use the motor and other design aspects of the product, you might infringe on other patents.

  • "The motor manufacturer does that if necessary". Is this a legal defence to infringement? Or do you mean as a matter of practical reality? If the former, do you have a reference — I'm sadly a little vague on US law on this point.
    – Maca
    Commented Jan 17, 2017 at 10:29
  • I'm speaking as an engineer with 30 years of experience. The vast majority of electric motors are generic. On permanent magnet DC motors, any patents must have expired 50+ years ago. If you buy from a reputable manufacturer, if there are licenses, they've paid them in order to sell the motors. Now if you are doing something special like motors for electric cars, there is more recent IP. But if you are buying from, for instance, Delco, they've done what licensing is necessary so they can sell the motor. They have legal departments and you can ask them for information.
    – Eric S
    Commented Jan 17, 2017 at 14:36

If your invention directly depends on a patented technology then whoever uses this patent will need to pay the license fees. (A research prototype built for your own private use will most likely be exempt, but this will obviously depend on the license and in which jurisdiction you are, etc.)

If there ever was a patent on "the" electrical motor, it will long since have expired. If your invention depends on a particular currently patented feature of electrical motors, then you obviously need to provide enough information that somebody who tries to use your patent will be able to implement it properly, where "properly" includes legal and licensing obligations.

As an inventor and patent author, you are reasoning about possible uses for somebody else's invention, not directly using it. If you can find a novel application for their invention and successfully file a new patent, your patent will help the original inventor as well; anybody who pays you license fees will be paying them, too.

  • I may be wrong, but I'm not sure this is directed at the question being asked. That is, what indication is there that the OP wants to file a patent?
    – Maca
    Commented Jan 18, 2017 at 6:21
  • The question's title says "as part of my own invention," don't you think that's a good indication?
    – tripleee
    Commented Jan 18, 2017 at 6:23
  • An invention need not be patented (or even patentable) to be an invention. But my point is, the core question the OP asked was "do I have to pay the electric motor inventor some money to be eligible to use [the electric motor]". You have construed "use" as "use by way of reference in my patent application for my own invention", whereas to my mind it means "use in making my own invention". But I see I'm filling in a gap too. The OP may need to clarify this.
    – Maca
    Commented Jan 18, 2017 at 6:31
  • Regardless of the OP's immediate need (which I suppose you may have interpreted correctly, given that they accepted an answer which doesn't cover this aspect) the question could plausibly be interpreted both ways, and so future visitors may well be looking for the information in this answer. If there is a separate question where this would be more topical, a link to that would be appreciated.
    – tripleee
    Commented Jan 18, 2017 at 6:38

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