So say there exists a patent for a hammer simulator, it consists of a piece of hardware: a specific hammer's (modified) handle connected to sensor base that detects any movement and translates that movement in real time to a virtual software running on a computer - simulating a hammer's movements. The device functions and looks similar to a horizontal, manual stick-shift, with the hammer handle having enough freedom of motion within the sensor base (which is stationary) to be moved like an actual hammer. The purpose of the invention is to practice driving nails into a surface by beating the hammer against said surface, for simplicity's sake, but the hammer head, nail, and surface are virtual, so essentially the user is just moving a handle connected to a sensor to simulate beating a hammer virtually. The nail is always partially inserted into the surface, there is no interaction with the nail except for hammering it, and it is always the same nail (no diversity in shape, color, 3D model design, etc).

Now say I have created a similar hardware/software system where the handle is externally the same specific handle (it is a popular hammer!), but internally has differently positioned hardware to send similar outputs. The sensor is entirely different in design, make, and model, it only functions the same in sending information to the software to give virtual coordinates for positioning the virtual hammer. My invention also has an additional component, a glove, that simulates hand movement for the user who wears it. The purpose of the glove is only for picking up and holding a virtual nail (different types, sizes, colors, shapes, etc). The virtual nail starts off just lying flat on the surface, the user is to pick it up and position it properly for the user to hammer it. That is all the glove is used for.

My invention also has more freedom of motion in that you can lift the hammer handle and the sensor and swing it around your head (so long as the cables do not rip or disconnect). The virtual software also replicates the same (very popular) hammer head, but a different developing engine was used to create the software and all the assets are original creations that only slightly resemble the prior art in shape (different color, different size, significantly more detailed, etc.), and the surface is different from the prior art simulator.

Now, in the existing patent for the old system, it claims:

"1. A system for creating an interactive virtual model of a hammer comprising:

an input device that can be manipulated similarly or identically to a hammer such that manipulations of the input device generate at least one signal that corresponds to a similar or identical manipulation of the hammer.

at least one feedback device in connection with input device, such that at least one signal is transmitted to the at least one feedback device wherein the feedback device can transmit information to the input device

a video display device in connection with the at least one feedback device wherein information from the at least one feedback device is transmitted to the video display device

a computer application stored on a computer readable medium accessible by the video display device that, when executed,

generates a virtual model on the viewing apparatus of at least a portion of the hammer head of the hammer corresponding to the input device;

interprets information received from the at least one feedback device

such that the manipulations of the input device correspond to and cause modification of the display of the virtual model of the hammer head of the hammer.

  1. the system, according to claim 1, wherein the input device operates similarly or identically to a hammer

  2. the system, according to claim 2, wherein the input device operates similarly or identically to a "Hammer Company (R) Hammer model x12345 (TM)" hammer.

  3. the system, according to claim 1, wherein the hammer head displayed in the virtual environment on the video display device resembles that of an "Hammer Company (R) Hammer model x12345 (TM)" hammer.

  4. the system, according to claim 1, wherein the video display device is a computer monitor

  5. the system, according to claim 1, wherein the feedback device is a "Feedback Company (R) Feedback device (TM)" feedback device

  6. the system, according to claim 1, wherein the at least one virtual object is a wooden, metal, concrete, sediment, ice, or synthetic surface

  7. the system, according to claim 1, wherein the input device is the modified handle of a "Hammer Company (R) Hammer model x12345 (TM)" hammer.

  8. the system, according to claim 8, wherein the display of the virtual hammer head includes at least the hammer head and the hammer peen

  9. the system, according to claim 9, wherein the display of the virtual hammer head correspond, in approximately real time, to the manipulations of the modified handle

  10. the system, according to claim 8, wherein the input device comprises a tool handle modified with at least one microswitch that transmits a signal to the feedback device when the input device is manipulated

  11. the system, according to claim 11, wherein at least one microswitch is used to detect at least one manipulation of a handle component

  12. the system, according to claim 11, wherein the operable connection of the modified handle to the feedback device is by electrical connection

  13. the system, according to claim 11, wherein the electrical connection is facilitated by an electric jack

Now, I think almost all of these claims can be argued to be infringed upon by my invention. My invention consists of an input device (the same handle, modified differently but still uses microswitches) connected to a feedback device (completely different sensor and different assembly) that transmits information through a USB cable to a video display device (laptop/computer/tablet/mobile monitor), to manipulate virtual objects (similar physical shape but different color, size, and significantly more detailed) in real time in a computer/mobile application (different developing engine, original assets) to simulate hammer beating (different surfaces).

If I decide to file a patent for my hammer simulator, which is in every regard superior to the prior art, despite having some identical/similar aspects, what is the feasibility of having a patent granted?

I appreciate your response in advance.

  • Please provide a link to the actual patent you are concerned with infringing. This is important as many people confuse patents and applications. – Eric Shain Oct 26 '17 at 16:57
  • There is nothing to confuse here. There is an existing patent with claims identical to the ones I have listed above. My invention (yet to apply for a patent) is similar in the ways I have described to the existing invention that is patented, yet superior on all accounts. So what is the feasibility of patenting my superior invention when it infringes on almost all of the prior art's claims? – Peter Bishop Oct 26 '17 at 19:09
  • It still helps us to read the patent. I can’t understand your reluctance to provide it. – Eric Shain Oct 27 '17 at 6:55

Be careful of what you disclose in your post, if you are intenting to file a patent application. It is a public disclosure and may be cited as prior art against yourself.

That being said, infringement and patentability are two separate issues. Let's assume someone has a patent for A and you apply for a patent for A+B. If A+B is novel and inventive over A, you may get a patent granted. However, that does not mean that if you actually own a patent for A+B you are free to manufacture and sell. That requires the permission from the person who owns patent for A (let's say a license).

Likewise, the person who owns a patent for A may not manufacture and sell A+B without your permission.

So be careful here. Patents are not rights to business activities. They are rights for exclusivity over others.

Mind also that if you want to know about patentability of your idea, it is a high load of work and you should not expect an answer from a forum. Besides, we would require so many information, that as I said above, it would be novelty destroying over your future filing.

  • Excellent answer given the limitations of the question. – Eric Shain Oct 27 '17 at 19:09
  • @EricShain Thank you. This is one of the most frequent (and interesting) misconceptions about patents. – chempatent1981 Oct 28 '17 at 7:37

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