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THE OKLAHOMA Powered By Docstoc
					                                                                  The OKLAHOMA
                                                 The official publication of the Oklahoma Inventors Congress

                        Volume 18, Number 1                                                                                      January-February,

I HAVE AN IDEA - WHERE DO I GO FROM HERE?                                 intended, fine, but be patient - you're not quite ready to apply for a
                                                                          patent yet.
This has been referred to as the “eternal question”. It has been some
time since this question was addressed herein, so we'll refresh your      2. Has it been done before? Just because you haven't seen your
memory if you've seen it before. If you are a paid up member of the       idea on a store shelf or in a catalog, don't assume it hasn't been done
OIC, you should have a handbook with a section for keeping copies of      before. An estimated
newsletters, so you can file this one in that section for future          97 % of all patented ideas fail to make it to the marketplace, so
reference. If you are paid up and haven't received your copy, please      there is a chance that someone else may have come up with the same
contact Dan L. Hoffman or Jim Quintus. Contact information is on the      idea or something close enough to it that your idea may not be
back page.                                                                patentable. When you file for a patent, the examiner may not look at
                                                                          catalogs or store shelves as they are going to run an exhaustive patent
If you have ever asked the question above, I'm going to assume you        search to find out if it has been done before. Therefore, you need a
are interested in developing your idea to commercialize it and make       preliminary patent search to determine your chances of patenting your
money from it. But before you begin counting up all those royalty         idea.
checks, there are a few basic questions that must be answered in the
affirmative if you are to succeed in your great adventure into the land   If you have a professional conduct a patent search, be prepared to lay
of the “rich and famous”. Essential to success are the following:         out several hundred dollars for the service. On the other hand, you
   1. Does it really work as perceived in your mind?                      can do the patent search yourself and save that money, and in the
   2. Has it been done before?                                            process, gain what may be the best education on your product that is
   3. Is it patentable?                                                   available to you at this stage of the patent (or not to patent) process.
   4. Will it sell?                                                       To conduct your own patent search, contact the Patent Library at OSU
   5. Can it be made and sold for a profit?                               in Stillwater (phone: 405-744-7086). Plan to spend the better part of
                                                                          a day at the Edmon Lowe Library, and call ahead to schedule an
1. Does it really work? Few ideas work in the real world as               appointment for time on a computer. The process is simple, and you
perceived in the mind. So, before you do anything else, you should        don't need to know anything about it beforehand. They will teach you
reduce your idea to “form” by making a working model. It doesn't          the process, and you can practice it there, and then continue “online”.
have to be elaborate; it just has to prove that it works. In most         The staff at the Patent Library will tell you all you need to know and
cases, materials are not important; you may be able to make it out of     were afraid to ask.
paper mache, wood, plastic, metal, or whatever. But it has to work to
the degree that it successfully performs the intended function! It can    By conducting your own preliminary patent search, you will
be a small model, full size, or in between. If it does work as            gain at least two things: 1) a much better grasp of your idea, and 2)
                                                                          documentation of related patents ("prior art") that will be very helpful
to a patent professional when you go to them for an opinion on its           some sort, and this is available to you via the Provisional Patent
patentability. This provides them with facts they need on which to           Application (PPA). It is less expensive than a utility patent, and
make an evaluation of its patentability, and it gives you credibility as a   provides 12 months protection of your idea. If you are diligent, that
serious inventor in the eyes of the patent professional. Whether their       may be sufficient time to conduct your market research to see if the
response is what you want to hear or not, you will be able to discuss        public will buy it, determine what it will cost to make it, and whether
specific features about your idea; perhaps getting suggestions for           you want to start your own company to make and sell it, or license
improving the idea and learning the chances of being issued a patent.        others to make and sell it.

3. Is it patentable? Patent law* states that "In order for an                Up to this point, keeping your idea confidential should not be a
invention to be patentable it must be new as defined in the patent           problem. However, to conduct credible product-specific market research
law, which provides that an invention cannot be patented if :                will require, in most cases, divulging at least some of your concept to
   (a) The invention was known or used by others in this country, or         others outside your inner circle of confidentiality. Getting cost
patented or described in a printed publication in this or a foreign          estimates also may require the use of confidentiality agreements. You
country, before the invention thereof by the applicant for patent, or        would be wise to consult with your patent professional about
  (b) The invention was patented or described in a printed publication       maintaining confidentiality in seeking answers to the next two
in this or a foreign country or in public use or on sale in this country     questions. The market research survey procedure and forms for non-
more than one year prior to the application for U.S. patent ". * (You        disclosure agreements in the OIC Handbook should give you an idea of
should check with patent professional for current Laws).                     what is involved in the process, read them first.

"Even if the subject matter sought to be patented is not exactly shown       4. Will it sell? If your goal is to make money from your idea,
by the prior art, and involves one or more differences over the most         then this has to be the most important of all these questions. Thomas
nearly similar thing already known, a patent may still be refused if the     Edison is reported to have said "If it won't sell, don't make it." He
differences would be obvious. The subject matter sought to be                was right. It makes little sense to put your life savings into an idea
patented must be sufficiently different from what has been used or           that won't sell. The less-than-three percent success ratio of all
described before so that it may be said to be unobvious to a person          patented items in the marketplace should remove any doubt about the
having ordinary skill in the area of technology related to the invention.    wisdom of Edison's remark.
For example, the substitution of one material for another, or changes
in size, are ordinarily not patentable."                                     There are two kinds of market research: 1) academic, and 2) product-
                                                                             specific. The first you can do in most community libraries. The
Generally, it is a good idea to have your idea evaluated as to its           Thomas Register, Encyclopedia of Associations, and other similar
patentability by a professional (patent agent or attorney) after             publications will tell you whether there is a current market with a
completing your preliminary patent search. If you have a working             supporting industry, how big the market is, who your competition
model that can be most helpful in the patent professional's ability to       might be, what their sales are, where they are located, how many
understand how it works and how it may accomplish its intended               similar product lines and models they make, etc. This is important,
function. It is also very important that, if possible, you go to a patent    but it's a collection of past historical and generic data, and you still
professional whose expertise is in the field of your invention. The more     won't know whether your new product will sell in the current
technical your idea, the more important this becomes. Don't expect an        marketplace.
evaluation of market potential, as that is not their field of expertise.
                                                                             Product-specific market research is designed to reveal a current
If your preliminary patent search produces encouraging results, and          response of the intended market for your product. It's designed to tell
your patent professional gives you an encouraging opinion, that's good.      you if it will sell, and for how much. It's a face-to-face meeting with
But at this point, you still don't know whether the public will buy it,      the type of individuals that represent your potential market. The OIC
so wisdom (and fiscal responsibility) dictates that you wait to invest in    Handbook contains a detailed procedure for conducting this type of
a full patent until you have some idea as to whether it will sell. To        market research. When conducted properly, you should have factual,
conduct market research, it's best that you have patent protection of        objective data on which to make intelligent decisions about whether the
market's response is sufficient to warrant investing further time and       to get "burned" emotionally as well as financially, and NOT willing or
money in the development of your idea. It should also provide you           able to give it a second try. And that result can only be a tragic loss
with a price range of what the potential market is willing to pay           for both you and the American public. In the real world,
(retail) for your product. To answer the next question, you need hard,      unfortunately, this is too often the case.      Cont. on p 4
factual, objective data in order to make an intelligent and accurate
assessment of your product's potential commercial success.
                                                                            USPTO on February 14 issued:
5. Can it be made and sold for a profit? To determine this                  Pat. no. 7,000,000
you will need an estimate of what it will cost to make your product.
Machine shops may be a good source for this information. Using the
price range (retail) obtained from your product-specific market research,
                                                                            INVENTORS ASSISTANCE SERVICE (IAS) If you are in any way involved
you can calculate the difference between the cost to make and sell it.
                                                                            in the invention process in Oklahoma, you should be aware of this
This is covered in detail in the market research procedure in the OIC
                                                                            office and its services. It is a creation of state government, and is
Handbook. In most cases, to be profitable and employ the normal
                                                                            supported by the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and
distribution channels, the average selling price should be about 4-5
                                                                            Technology (OCAST). IAS is located on the OSU campus across the
times the cost to make it. If your research indicates this can be
                                                                            street west of the football stadium in room 395 Cordell South. Dr.
reasonably expected, and prior indicators are positive, then you have a
                                                                            Tom Bertenshaw is Director and Jill Nuckolls is Office Manager. The
good basis for proceeding with further investment in the development
                                                                            office is open Monday through Friday, 8-5. The IAS web page lists (or
of your idea.
                                                                            links to) just about everything you need to know to navigate the
                                                                            invention process. The web site is:
If you want to get off to a good start in the invention process, you
need to fix two important points firmly in your mind: 1) avoid the          Their toll-free phone number is 877-577-7632,
scam artists, and 2) to get the biggest bang for your buck, it's wise to    and Jill's email address is:
find out what chance for success your idea has before you spend a lot       One of their services is conducting workshops for the individual
of money on it.                                                             inventor. If you have questions about the invention process and/or
                                                                            want to be notified of upcoming workshops, contact the IAS: 405-744
Invention scam groups target innocent people for their victims. A link      8727
to a web site established for identifying them is available on the
following web sites:                                                        Another service, The Selected Inventions program (SI) offered by the IAS
                                                                            may provide for an evaluation of your idea or product. To have your
                                         idea considered, you need to fill out application forms and pay a small
                                            fee of $25. Generally, a working model and or prototype and
                                                                            protection of your Idea should be in place before making application.
The questions above are listed in a logical sequence. If followed in the    In some selected cases where an application is selected, the IAS may be
order given, you gather the factual information you need to make            able to offer limited assistance in the research and development phase
intelligent decisions on whether to proceed with your idea, BEFORE you      for your product. For further information, contact the IAS office.
make the first major investment, a full patent, which may cost $5,000
or more depending upon the number of claims.
If you determine that the product won't sell before you file for a full
patent, you can back out and say, "This experience has been a good          IN MEMORIUM
lesson." If you determine this AFTER filing for a full patent, your
comment is more likely to be, "This experience has been a costly            Two good men who made a difference with their contributions to
lesson." The difference? In the first case, you may redirect your           Oklahoma’s’ independent inventors have gone on to their reward.
creative energies toward other new ideas, one or more of which may          Senator Robert M. Kerr, Altus, died January 25, 2006. He authored the
turn out to be successful, hopefully. In the second case, you are likely    Oklahoma Inventors Assistance Act in 1987.
Tom Johnston, McAlester, died late last year. He had served the OIC in
various official capacities, including State President and Chairman of the
McAlester Chapter.
Both served their fellowman honorably and will be missed.

                     MONTHLY MEETINGS
   (Currently inactive)
   Membership information and a handbook
   is available by contacting:
           Karl Scifres                               (918) 426-0940

  Time: 4th Tuesday, 6-9 p.m. except Aug & Dec. (Buffet)
  Place: Oklahoma Station BBQ               (Oklahoma City)
           4331 NW 50 st
           East of NW 50th & Meridian
  Contact: Dan L. Hoffman                         405-348-7794

     (Currently inactive)
     Membership information and a handbook
     is available by contacting:
             Gary Polson                                 (405) 377-7100

     Time: 2nd Tuesday, 6- 9 p.m. (Except Aug) (Dinner)
     Place: Delta Café       3330 S Peoria            Tulsa, OK
     Contact: Jim Quintus                      (918) 274-1037

President & Managing Editor Dan L. Hoffman
1st VP Alan Beaty; 2nd VP Sam John; Sec/Treas Tom Hoke

OIC P.O. Box 57464 OKC, OK 73157-7464 Bill Baker Editor