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this is my first question here. :-) I hope it's been answered before; and I'm assuming there are many, many people in my same situation that would like to know the same thing(s).

To explain myself, I'd like to put forth a fictitious scenario that simulates my actual scenario. (I can't explain my actual scenario because, of course, somebody with smarts and money will potentially take my idea and patent it!)

So please bear with me as I hypothesize:

Let's say that I have an idea to create a large building (with stuff in it) that defies gravity, hovers over the ocean, sucks salt out of the ocean, turns the salt into unicorn eggs, puts those eggs on barges, and sends the barges to buyers all over the world.

How would I patent this?

(Obviously this is fictitious, but that's kind of the spot I'm in currently.)

My first reason to want to patent this entire "thing" is to protect myself while I gather investors and smart people to help me bring the idea to reality.

Is a patent even the right way to go at this point?

To complicate matters, many of the parts of this idea will indeed be novel; but some will be regular business practices (using an ERP, for example). Some original software and hardware will need to be created and will therefore be "novel"; but there will also be off-the-shelf sw/hw used. Some sw/hw will be sourced from other vendors and used in the "novel" parts of the idea.

And, of course, I haven't, in fact, "invented" anything at this point. (I have no doubt that everything that needs to be invented can be invented; but nothing has been physically invented yet.)

Any ideas how I should proceed?

Finally; if I were to submit the paragraph above (where I describe the floating building that makes unicorn eggs), hand sketch some drawings of what I think the building may look like, what the eggs may look like, what the "hover" system may look like, would that be good enough to get a patent? And if so, what would the patent be issued for? The building? The eggs? The entire concept?

My apologies; I've rewritten this post about 4 times trying to figure out what my question actually is. I'm just going to stop typing now, and hope that some of you understand where I'm coming from and have some suggestions. :-)

Thank you for any help you can give me! This concept has been percolating for 14 years, and I'm itching to get moving on it.

  • Get thee to a patent attorney. With a simple focussed invention it might be possible for a lay person to write an effective patent. However, in your scenario you need a patent strategy and probably multiple patents. There is zero chance of you doing this effectively without a lawyer or agent. – Eric Shain Sep 21 '18 at 14:36
  • “(I can't explain my actual scenario because, of course, somebody with smarts and money will potentially take my idea and patent it!)“ a published invention cannot be patented anymore. – DonQuiKong Sep 21 '18 at 21:15
  • I would say "should not be able to be patented". – George White Sep 21 '18 at 23:25
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The best suggestion is to hire patent attorney or agent for prior art search and drafting your patent application. Rest all advice and suggestions will be as hypothetical as your building.

Nevertheless, since you have sought suggestion here, I think you may find these few lines useful.

i. First check prior art. It helps to avoid infringing protected areas of knowledge and rights.

ii. Sum up how's. That is how you will build the 'building' and how the building will perform all intended works.

iii. If you can link all how's rationally, my suggestion is go for provisional filing. This gives you one year time to refine your idea and give physical form to your idea which you can put in your follow up non-provisional application. Of course, even idea alone can be patented.

Now coming to specifics of your question;

A.

To complicate matters, many of the parts of this idea will indeed be novel; *****. Some original software and hardware will need to be created and will therefore be "novel"; but there will also be off-the-shelf sw/hw used. Some sw/hw will be sourced from other vendors and used in the "novel" parts of the idea.

In your claims, off the self elements (hw/sw) should not be named, rather to be mentioned for their functions in the scheme of things. Only novel elements (hw/sw) should be mentioned and must be supported in descriptive part of your application.

B.

but some will be regular business practices (using an ERP, for example)

Business practice and methods can not be patented.

C.

hand sketch some drawings of what I think the building may look like, what the eggs may look like, what the "hover" system may look like, would that be good enough to get a patent?

Look is in the domain of Design Patent. I presume you are looking for utility patent and for that drawing is pictorial representation to depict structure, function and functional relationship of elements.

D.

what would the patent be issued for? The building? The eggs? The entire concept?

If all of them are part of a whole idea all can be part of your patent claims. You can put each of them in separate applications if the functions are not inter dependent.

  • In the U.S. business methods can still be patented, it is just getting very hard to do so and to defend the patent if granted. And I think you meant to say that "ideas can NOT be patented" – George White Sep 21 '18 at 22:47
  • I put that in perspective of "some will be regular business practices (using an ERP, for example)", which (regular business practices and as such regular business methods) I believe can not be patented. – AD Adhikary Sep 22 '18 at 5:52
  • I agree that "regular" anything will not be patentable; especially not business methods. – George White Sep 22 '18 at 19:22
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I would focus on the one or two aspects that seems to most valuable. If the gravity defying technology was applicable more broadly I would file on that. A hovering building would be one embodiment; a hovering vehicle might be another. The key would be to describe how to make and use the invention in a way that enabled one of ordinary skill in the art to make it and use it. If you do not have the mechanism optimized yet, that is ok. Just teach the best way you know how to do it now. The fact that some subcomponents (bricks, power supplies, etc.) are off-the-shelf doesn't impact patentability and can make enablement more straightforward. ". . . strap a thousand Shark vacuum cleaners together. . . ".

Do you know how to make unicorn eggs where the salt gets into a hopper other than by sucking it up from the base of a hovering building? If so, that is a separate invention. And last, even though they can be used separately (I'm assuming), is there something non-obvious of about how great the hovering building and the unicorn egg producing work together? That would be third invention.

  • Thank you all! I'm slowly digesting this info; I think I'll have some "clarification" type questions soon. – WildDoktor Sep 23 '18 at 7:35

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