Worried About Infringing Someone Else's Patent?
You should be. But don't let the worry stop you.
Checking for possible infringement issues can get complicated and very expensive. A legal opinion from a lawyer on whether or not your invention violates someone else's patent rights can be (usually is) MORE expensive than getting an issued utility patent!
This is an area that's filled with gray areas and many, many unknowns, especially in fields that move quickly like tech and biotech. If it's a hot field, even if you can't find anything to worry about in a search, there's a decent chance someone already has a patent pending (including provisional apps) that could claim priority on at least some aspects of "your" invention.
Meanwhile, many inventors hear from lawyers that their invention can get a patent and think that this means they are good to go. Nope. Getting a patent on your invention doesn't mean you can actually use it! I can get a patent on a feature added to an iPhone. Apple can't use my feature... but I can't use their iPhone.
What to do.
Search for patents as best you can on your own. Use Google patents, espacenet and USPTO. Hopefully you will find something very close that's expired and in the public domain. If you find that, you can feel pretty confident that you can improve upon it without stepping on someone else's toes. If you do find something to worry about, consult with an engineer in the field of your invention who knows about patents before going to an attorney. The opinion will cost a lot less and probably mean a lot more.
In the end... research as best you can inexpensively, satisfy yourself, feel the fear... and do it anyway!
You can also get a first opinion on patent issues at low cost with a Brutally Honest Review from Invention City. You'll also get a chance at a licensing deal.
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