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(Advise please) To those who hold patents or are Engineers:

Discussion in 'Business Forum' started by GlockSupremacy, Jan 15, 2011.

  1. GlockSupremacy

    GlockSupremacy Recycle Kids!

    Feb 14, 2005
    I am currently an engineering student and have been given the opportunity to create any product i choose and enter it in a number of competitions.

    This is a group project of 4. I have been the designated "idea" man of the group and so far have come up with just about every potential design candidate. One member of the group is virtually non-existent (does not show up, or hours late).

    So on my weekend i have been doing independent research and have come up with a new idea that i feel is very unique. I would like to present this to faculty, but realize if i do it might become the schools intellectual property or the groups.

    If the group helps me design it i would have no problem letting them have a stake. My problem is i would like to have credit for the basic idea, after all i have come up with the idea on my own outside of school.

    Any advise you can offer would be much appreciated.
  2. GlockSupremacy

    GlockSupremacy Recycle Kids!

    Feb 14, 2005
    Bump... Still waiting for any advise one might have.

  3. GeorgiaGlockMan

    GeorgiaGlockMan Aggie in Exile.

    Nov 18, 2003
    Bad-Lands Ranch
    I am an engineer and I worked for a fortune 50 company when I had my first patent.

    The process of researching, recording and submitting an idea was all done my a coorporate lawyer.

    The patent lawyers know how to search a new idea to see if it is patentable and can record the new idea and submit it to the patent office.

    The process took over a year and from what I can tell is a pita.

    Good luck with your invention. I hope you make millions off of your idea.

    My patents both became the property of said fortune 50 company and I didn't get squat except for my name on a couple of worthless plaques.
  4. dagwag77


    Jan 17, 2010
    Boston, MA
    It is also very expensive, between filing fees and atty costs for the above.

    What sort of "product" are you creating - it may be worth trying to swing it a copyright from my limited understanding of copyright law, even computer codes etc can be (c). Much cheaper, much faster, likely no attorney even required if your product may fall under (c)-able material.

    Best of luck!
  5. Fracball

    Fracball Authorized User

    Nov 25, 2006
    The State Below OKLA
    Did you sign a document that says patents you're awarded become property of the school? If so, you'll still be listed as the inventor on the patent but it will be assigned to the school. In this case perhaps the school will help with filing, costs, etc?

    If the patent will not be assigned to the school, you might look into filing a provisional patent application. IIRC, this protects your idea (gives it a start date) and gives you a year to continue working on it before filing the regular application.

    Regarding the others getting credit, the patent would still recognize you as the primary inventor.

    At a minimum, sign and date your notes, sketches, etc that describe your idea. And have someone else read your notes, sketches, etc and sign and date them also. This reviewer should indicate something like "Read and understood" on your notes. You should probably limit the amount of details you reveal to others until you can talk to a patent attorney.

    Good luck!
  6. Patent law is what I do for a living, so I feel I'm on fairly solid ground here. Just because you have a unique idea doesn't mean you need to patent it. I have no idea what your idea is, but it must fit into one of the statutory classes: composition of matter, machine, article of manufacture, etc. If you want to protect the idea and sell or license it to another party, a patent is a useful property to own. If you want to use it for yourself, on the other hand, trade secret protection might be more appropriate.

    There are 3 categories of non-Provisional patent applications: utility, design, and plant. Guessing your idea would be a utility patent, since most are. Cost for a small entity to file (probably what you are) are $462, plus another $40 if assigning the invention to another company. However, that doesn't include the cost to draft a patent application, which in most cases is at least $2K - and can be as much as $12-$15K depending on complexity/length/embodiments.

    FWIW, I talk most new inventors out of going for a patent, as the cost makes no sense given their usually nebulous business objectives. That said, feel free to contact me at if you want to take it further.

  7. modgun

    modgun CLM

    Nov 15, 2003
    Where you live
    Everything said above is good info...basically the process is costly and detailed but worth it when you know you need it. You do not know this yet.

    Ask your teacher about intellectual property becoming the schools and if it is part of the/ your overall enrollment agreement, and/or any specific course agreements if you are concerned.

    Keep detailed documents of everything signed dated etc as well as a log/journal of everything-be redundant- starting with as much info as you can produce prior to any class/team work
    (I know this is an old post so what I am saying is only for posterity as the course is over at this point).

    How did it go by the way?
  8. Brian Lee

    Brian Lee Drop those nuts

    Jul 28, 2008
    Up a tree.
    If you really think that this idea of yours is potentially profitable as a serious business later on, then I'd advise you to NOT use this particular idea for a school project.

    Save all your really good inventions for the life you'll have AFTER engineering school is over. There's simply no need to waste a good idea on something like a school assignment where you could just as easily make a good grade using a product-idea that would never make a million dollars anyway. And if this is something you were already thinking about on your own, why let three other guys horn in on the money just because they happened to be in your class at school - and you're the one who did all the real inventive work?

    Making a good grade on this one project will not feed your kids 15 years down the road, nor will the guys who you propose to share profits with now. If it's truly your idea, you should develop it entirely yourself and resist the temptation to embrace (potentially the wrong) business partners just because of the coincidence of them being your classmates today.
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2012