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I currently have an idea for a new product that is based off of an existing piece of equipment which consists of having the option to mix and match parts to make it customizable, but I have just found a patent that does the same thing but goes about it completely differently. My idea consists of mechanically piecing them together and holding them together in a different manner than what the patent says. Technically my idea would be more efficient and would be less time to assemble it. Would it still violate the patent? If so could I build off of it?

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  • The question of the title and the questions of the body are different.
    – George White
    Jan 5 at 15:41

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The process for determining patent infringement goes like this. Read claim 1 of the patent of concern. Figure out if you implement each and every step of claim 1. If the claim has steps A, B and C and you implement all of them, you infringe. It doesn't matter if you add a step D. If, however, you only implement A and C you don't infringe. Repeat for every other claim in the patent.

If a new step D is novel you might be able to get a patent on that, but you'll still need a license to avoid infringement of an existing patent. Also avoiding infringement of a single patent doesn't mean you avoid infringement of all patents. So you really need to do a patent search. This takes some skill as does reading and understanding patents. Typically one would hire a patent attorney or agent to do a search and assess freedom to operate.

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  • @GeorgeWhite The answer specifically says “repeat for every other claim “. I decided it was too complicated to get into independent vs dependent claims.
    – Eric S
    Jan 5 at 17:04
  • Thanks - I didn’t read it carefully.
    – George White
    Jan 6 at 18:04
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As stated in the answer of @EricS it is the claims that matter. You say it does it goes about it completely differently. I assume you are reading a difference between your invention and theirs in the specification. It could be that the claims are written more broadly.

Also you need to avoid all independent claims. If there are alternate embodiments your method may look nothing like the method of claim X but very similar to the method of claim Y.

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