Tweak for existing product

chrisc's Avatargold

So there is an existing product not being marketing for an area or use it could be a HUGE hit in, but with some minor tweaks made to it for it to be so as well.

I know nothing about design patents, and I worry that attempting to the call the company just gives them my idea completely. Is this a situation where obtaining a design patent to ensure they can’t make it the way I want to (and there really isn’t another practical, less-expensive design really) and THEN you talk to them? I looked at a design patent online, and there was absolutely no descriptive content in it and rather only reference to the photos of the product from differing angles – this I could probably do myself I’m thinking…..???? How can you go about tweaking an existing product without giving it away? (don’t know if it is patented or not and the shape would be entirely different — I’m thinking the only thing they could have gotten patented is the function of the material they used as this particular product has existed for eons – not sure yet)

posted September 09, 2008 23:41 (
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chere57's Avataree_badge

I did send you an email with contact info in case you needed further clarification.

posted September 11, 2008 19:16 (
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chrisc's Avatargold

Got it! and just before the horse died (get it beating a dead horse?) lol. Very interesting indeed – wonder how many people can claim it was just for looks rather than to accommodate more – beauty is in the eye of the beholder, no? lol. So if the particular item itself can’t be utility patented because it already existed for eons, then NO patent, design or utility. Thanks again Chere!

posted September 11, 2008 19:03 (
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chere57's Avataree_badge

It depends on why you’re doing it.
If it is just for looks – design.
But if the shape has a purpose – utility.

:)

posted September 11, 2008 17:45 (
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chrisc's Avatargold

Soooo, what if you made your bowl more oval rather than circular and molded the ends on the narrower parts to be longer and skinny than the rest? Thanks for your patience!

posted September 11, 2008 17:36 (
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chere57's Avataree_badge

If you paint a flower on the bowl, a design patent is appropriate.

If you add a handle to it so you can drink your soup, then you need a utility patent.

This a all assuming the item even CAN be patented in the first place. Since there is something else on the market that is so similar a patent might not be possible.

posted September 11, 2008 13:51 (
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chrisc's Avatargold

I would? Maybe this helps – I can parallel this product to a general bowl….bowls themselves aren’t generally patentable, but the design of a bowl could be, right?

posted September 11, 2008 13:31 (
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chere57's Avataree_badge

Then you will need a utility patent.

posted September 11, 2008 12:12 (
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chrisc's Avatargold

Thanks. The shape of mine means it can still be used for what the less desirable shaped item can be used for – mine just works better, offers more room in a practical way.

posted September 11, 2008 12:11 (
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chere57's Avataree_badge

Criterion,
Thanks – that is what I was trying to say. :)

posted September 11, 2008 12:05 (
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criteriond's Avatar

A Design Patent can cover the shape of a product (as the shape affect’s the product’s ornamental appearance), however if the product’s shape also affects the product’s functionality/utility (which could simply mean that the shape lowers production costs, making the end product more cost effective), it is then not protectable by a Design Patent. Of course the Design Patent could issue, but if proven to relate to the product’s functionality it would not likely hold up in court.

Design Patents are where patent law intersects with trademark law. If an invention serves a functional purpose, it is protected by a utility patent. If an “invention” simply relates to a unique ornamental appearance of a functional product – a design patent comes into play theoretically to protect against knock-offs which could cause confusion related to the source of a product.

posted September 11, 2008 11:35 (
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chere57's Avataree_badge

I guess the thing to do is study some design patents to see if ‘shape’ is covered. I always thought the design patents were simply for the embellishments not really the itme itself.

posted September 11, 2008 09:37 (
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chrisc's Avatargold

The shape makes it better with this particular material, but the shape has existed for prolly forever in a different material. Making a certain part of it taller and sloping hasn’t existed on the forever, rectangular models or the newer oval-shaped model. lol. This sure is hard to talk about without just saying “it”! Thanks for trying to help me out though Chere!

posted September 11, 2008 09:01 (
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chere57's Avataree_badge

It sounds like you are designing to function and if the shape is what makes it better, a design patent is not what you want. Design patents are more for ‘decoration’. I’m not saying you can not get a design patent on it – just that it probably will not fully protect your idea.

posted September 11, 2008 06:22 (
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chrisc's Avatargold

The way I would like it to look is what makes it perfect for the use I want to use it for. It’s good now for what I use it for, but to be the best it can be, the looks (shape) needs to change just a tad, such as rectangular rather than oval, and it needs to be a bit taller in one key specific area.

posted September 10, 2008 16:59 (
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chere57's Avataree_badge

Are you refering to a situation like this? A seam ripper works great to open packaging but is not the original function.

If so and you are ‘tweaking’ for function in a different application, a design patent would probably not protect it adequatly.

A design patent is cosmetic – it only protects the way something looks.

posted September 10, 2008 13:17 (
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