can you patent an *idea* only???

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Ted Lee, Mar 15, 2004.

  1. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

    Joined:
    May 8, 2001
    Messages:
    8,390
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    hi all -

    is it possible to patent *only* a concept or idea?

    for example, could i patent a "flying car" by itself, or would i have to provide technical explanations, diagrams, parts listing, etc.

    just curious....
     
  2. MikeSerrano

    MikeSerrano Second Unit

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 1999
    Messages:
    353
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    0
    You can patent a specific implementation of a flying car, but you cannot patent the concept.

    Note that your implementation need not "work" in the sense that one could be built tomorrow with off the shelf parts. The specifics just need to be plausible.

    -Mike
     
  3. Danny Tse

    Danny Tse Producer

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2000
    Messages:
    3,185
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Really??

    A couple of decades ago, while I was a kid, on a Saturday morning, I came up with the concept that later turned out to be the "Cartoon Network". Damn!!!
     
  4. Matthew Todd

    Matthew Todd Second Unit

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2000
    Messages:
    338
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0


    While this may be true in principle, for a valid patent, there is a requirement that your disclosure "enable one skilled in the art to practice the invention." You have to provide enough detail so that someone could practice the invention without requiring them to do too much experimentation.
     
  5. Keith Mickunas

    Keith Mickunas Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 1998
    Messages:
    2,041
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    You can patent procedures for doing things. For instance a guy patented the procedure for exercising your cat with a laser pointer. He didn't patent the laser pointer, just the idea of doing it. So no one can market a laser pointer as a cat toy without paying this guy. Pretty stupid, isn't it?

    You could patent the flying car if you worked out the propulsion and such. Or you could just patent the control systems if you have figured out a neat way to make flying more intuitive. For instance you could say the steering wheel tilts forwards and backwards for up and down, and the the normal rotation works like a plane's rudders, and use a computer control to keep the vehicle from rolling. As long as they're not to similar to other vehicles' controls, you could patent that.
     
  6. Brian Perry

    Brian Perry Cinematographer

    Joined:
    May 6, 1999
    Messages:
    2,807
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0

    I always wondered how they search through all the patents to see if one exists. Do they do a computer search on "cats" and "laser" and see if something comes up? I would think there are so many patents out there it would be difficult to ensure you've looked at everything.
     
  7. MikeSerrano

    MikeSerrano Second Unit

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 1999
    Messages:
    353
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Patents must (usually) be very specific, so it's possible to get around many of them if you find a better/different way to accomplish something (which is the purpose of the patent system--to compensate inventors who find better ways to do things).

    For instance, United States Patent 5,443,036: Method of excercising a cat is specific to a person manipulating a hand-held laser-pointer with their hand to exercise a cat. Does this patent cover using a robotic arm to manipulate reflected and concetrated LED light to create fast and random focused light movements on opaque surfaces? Only the patent office can say for sure, but I may have a new invention that does not infringe on patent 5443036.

    *looks around*

    [voice type=Homer]Patent pending. Patent pending. Patent Pending.[/voice]

    [​IMG]

    -Mike
     
  8. Eric_L

    Eric_L Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2002
    Messages:
    1,994
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    0
  9. Erik.Ha

    Erik.Ha Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2003
    Messages:
    697
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0


    Don't kick yourslef... You couldn't have patented that... Nor could you have copyrighted it...
     
  10. BrianW

    BrianW Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 1999
    Messages:
    2,563
    Likes Received:
    38
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Real Name:
    Brian
    I've got a patent pending on what I call "Semi-Volatile RAM". It's computer memory that, when you turn off the power, loses just the ones, but keeps all the zeros.

    When the patent finally comes through, I'll be richer than Bill Gates! [​IMG]
     
  11. Jay H

    Jay H Producer

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 1999
    Messages:
    5,654
    Likes Received:
    33
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    Pittsfield, MA
    Real Name:
    Jay
    On a similar note, I'm patenting the super-volatile RAM SV-RAM, when power goes off or a cold start, all the bits become 2's.

    [​IMG]

    Jay
     
  12. Jeff Ulmer

    Jeff Ulmer Producer

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 1998
    Messages:
    5,584
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    A long time ago I patented the idea of a computer operating system that never crashed. No one has violated it yet!
     
  13. Yee-Ming

    Yee-Ming Producer

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2002
    Messages:
    4,382
    Likes Received:
    28
    Trophy Points:
    1,610
    Location:
    "on a little street in Singapore"
    Real Name:
    Yee Ming Lim
    Reminds me of that story about how someone actually patented "sprites", the little computer characters that you control in a video game. Most of the big manufacturers, when confronted with his claim, paid up, one of them fought it (Atari?) and lost, and had to pay a lot more for patent infringement.
     
  14. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

    Joined:
    May 8, 2001
    Messages:
    8,390
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    thx for the info guys.

    i'm off to work on my word processor / drafting board / voice recognition system.

    crap ... did i just type that? uh...no...that's not what i'm working on....no really....it's not....
     

Share This Page