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I have an idea for a product which has not been patented and is rather unique. However, my design would include a hook and loop fastener. Since Velcro's patent on this has expired, am I allowed to use a hook and loop fastener in my patent as long as I don't use any trademarks?

Thanks!

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  • Thank you all for the clarification! I understand much better now. – Jack Aug 19 '20 at 1:01
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It really doesn't matter whether or not the device you want to use in your invention is patented. Almost all patents build on other inventions. So long as your invention meets the requirements of being novel, useful and non-obvious you can potentially obtain a patent.

The question isn't of patentability, its of freedom to operate. If your idea is an improvement on an existing device with an active patent, you could get a patent, but need to license the existing patent to sell your product. With respect to Velcro, I seriously doubt they would keep you from using their product in your product whether or not the patent is expired. After all, they want to sell more Velcro. Now if you wanted to make your own equivalent to Velcro there might be an issue if their patent were still in force.

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Yes, but the patent status of Velcro is completely irrelevant to your patent application. You may have a common confusion about patents. There is a big difference between a patent and a product you might decide to make, sell, import, etc. that is based on your inventive concept.

Your patent can have sub-components that are patented. It can, if actually made, infringe other's patents. What matters in your patent application is that your invention, as claimed, is useful, new and not obvious. All three criteria are actually complex, nuanced, and fought over but nowhere in the criteria is that a product based on your patent can actually be made and sold without infringing someone else's patent.

If you invented a riding lawn mower a few decades ago it might be new and non-obvious therefore deserving a patent. But you might not be able to sell it if it infringed one or more patents on mowers in general.

It is a plus for your idea that a sub-component you view as required is something with multiple sources since it is no longer patented. (I would advise thinking of other ways to implement it to avoid giving someone an easy design-around by using snaps or some other fastener. And someone else's trademark in a patent application is not a great idea since a brand name does not really describe/define a specific structure. Note that Loctite, Masonite and many other brands no longer just apply to their initial famous product.f)

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