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Let's suppose that I have discovered an amazing use case for the combination of a bucket full or rocks, can I then patent bucket full of rocks, or at the very least can I patent bucket full of rocks for this particular use case, so that others may have their own bucket full of rocks but they cannot use their bucket full of rocks for this particular use case?

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  • Hard to imagine - also if it was patented others could presumably use a bucket of sand or gravel or chunks of concrete. Patenting weird specific things isn’t economic if less doe if things can do the job.
    – George White
    Feb 23, 2023 at 19:51

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You can not patent just a bucket full of rocks. People have been using buckets to transport rocks for centuries. There is plenty of prior art and it is obvious to anyone who wants to move rocks that they can use a bucket to do so. Now whether you can patent the use of a bucket full of rocks to do something particular depends on some factors we can't assess without knowing what you are trying to do. One question is whether it would be obvious to someone skilled in the art of performing the particular use case to use a bucket full of rocks. Another question is whether anyone has ever used a bucket of rocks for this purpose before and in some way publicly disclosed it. As George White points out in his comment, unless broadly claimed it might be easy to avoid infringement. Perhaps using a canvas bag full of rocks.

Trying to think of a real application that is similar I would suggest a tripod weight. It is well known that hanging a weight from a tripod provides a more stable platform for a camera. Tripods need to be light to be portable, so some people bring a bag which they fill with whatever is locally available like rocks or sand. This is hung from the tripod to weigh it down. High end tripods often provide a hook for this purpose. Someone must have been the first to do so, but a cursory search yielded no patents for either the bag or the hook. Maybe if was just too obvious or the first person to do so didn't consider filing a patent.

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