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Using Patent Ideas for Next Product

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garimella

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Hi, I read somewhere that US patents are valid till 20 years. If the time expires, can somebody use those patent ideas for making their commercial products?
 

BradtheRad

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A patent might be renewed by the owner. You should verify whether that was done.

Also, whether someone made (perhaps minor) modifications to the initial patent and now holds a current patent for his concept, though it may be similar to the initial patent, and even after the initial patent expired.
 

garimella

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Do you mean that patents can be perpetual? We are planning to use ideas from a patent 25 years ago and add some additional details to make a newer product. Will that hurt us? Has anybody done this way?
 

Easy peasy

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you need to hire a patent attorney, patents last 18-20 years, they can be modified and a new patent issued to take account of the modification - however if your equipment only uses methods from the original patent - you should be safe. There may well be other patents issued for the same thing - this some times happens - this is why you hire a patent attorney firm to do a thorough patent search, to see if there are duplicates, or very similar patents out there ...
 

Nik_2213

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Also, IIRC, if any product was made per that patent, or arguably related, there may be copyright issues, too.

One problem is 'patent trolls', wrangling whom will cost you so much in legal fees, that their sprawling patent portfolio is effectively off-limits.

Your patent attorney must find a safe, yet affordable path through such swindles and pitfalls, or warn that your plan simply will not fly.

When you take into account 'soak' testing and eg UL approval, sometimes you gotta shake your head and buy in established tech...
 

Easy peasy

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Two approaches: 1) find a patent holder and use their design, offer them a modest fee / royalty - it then becomes their problem to defend their IP

2) Hire a power electronics consultant to generate a design that is in the public domain - and pay him/her for that design.
 

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