Assume there are some patents out there that seem to be fundamental and almost trivial.

Can I patent and/or manufacture a product that builds on a patented product (I don't own the "basic" patent)

For example, there are a lot of patented power supply strips that turn off devices based on a "master" device's power draw (your computer peripherals switch off if the "master" computer goes into standby).

I want to build "smart remote" power supply strips that not only does the above but also can be configured over WiFi and household remote control (so that you can turn your power-hungry fax machine on/off remotely or while watching TV)

If I build my version of "smart remote" power supply strips am I infringing on the existing patented power supply strips?

1 Answer 1


Getting a patent issued on your improved widget doesn't affect the rights of someone who has a patent on the basic widget. So yes, you may very well infringe something if this is an area thick with granted, in-force patents.

  • I dont understand this. In that case livescribe (digital pen) is infringing on the patents held by Reynolds (ballpoint pen) Jul 30, 2013 at 20:36
  • A smart pen is still a pen. If the writing particulars of a smart pen are "read on" by the claims of a in-force pen patent they area either licensing it or infringing it.
    – George White
    Jul 30, 2013 at 21:58
  • Does this mean that the person who patented the AC motor is getting rich just from licensing deals from companies making electrical juicers, grinders, fans, ventialtors, ... ? Jul 30, 2013 at 22:20
  • Patents expire. Nikolai Tesla filed a patent for an AC motor design in 1888 and likely received cash for it for quite a few years. New US patents currently have a term of 20 years, where the start date is usually the patent's filing date. Jul 30, 2013 at 22:42

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