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mhanwig76's Avatar


If two existing products are on the market, and I wanted to combine them to make a new product, what type of patent is needed? Example: Before backup cameras in automobiles were a feature, cameras and screens already existed. However, somebody had an idea to combine the two existing products to create what we know today as a backup camera in automobiles. What is needed, patent-wise and/or more, to create a new idea from existing products on the market?


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magurn's Avataren_staff_badge

Hi Mark!

Edison Nation cannot provide legal guidance on patent matters. We would advise you to consult with a patent attorney for more information.

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glenninventor's Avatargold

Mark, This article might be helpful to answer your question: "When Is a Combination Invention Patentable?"


Michael Heagerty
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chappy75's Avatargold

I don't know Steven... While it might be a question that is less advanced than some other topics, I think it presents an interesting problem that is less than vague. Charles H. Duell was the Commissioner of US patent office in 1899. Mr. Deull's most famous attributed utterance is that "everything that can be invented has been invented."

It could be postulated or surmised that our inventions are really just piles of inventions combined in a new way to solve a problem and every invention is dependent on the existence of other inventions.

Of course, the heart of the question is about patents and such so I can't help you there... There are professionals you should consult but I would say that if you have an invention that combines inventions that still have patents in good standing then you may want to: 

A) Wait until the 20 year mark when the inventions become public domain and then cite those connected in a new pattern that is not obvious. OR 

B) Contact the owners of the other patents and figure how you can be of value. Kind of a tricky thing to thread the needle like that I would think but it might be interesting to try.

Best of luck to you!

Michael Heagerty
Jeremy C
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ring-go's Avatargold

This is a simple but age old question...one that I have had to ask myself many times due to the fact that the law of obvious will always be vague...and almost always left to opinion.

When I find myself in this position, my empirical basis is almost always "does it have a wow factor" or "wow, I never would have thought of that!". Which is a very odd thing for one to say to oneself...but part of the magic we as inventors hold dear..!  

Also, the level to which an existing object is redefined is just as much at play...when is the use of a wheel, now a rotational driving means on a vertical axis..? 

When it comes to intellectual property, often times it is how you define that property, that will determine the owner of the same. 

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countofmontecristo's Avatar

Actually, this IS an 'age-old' question.

Nikola Tesla was 'robbed' of the invention of the Radio by Marconi. Marconi had to reference and incorporate over 17 of Tesla's patents to 'invent' the radio.  This was later challenged of course by Tesla, but it was too late.   Marconi got all the fame and fortune.

Tesla, even with all of his intellect and drive, died basically penniless.   Tesla also wanted to 'give' the world free electricity.  Corporate greed and J.P. Morgan banker types would not let that happen.   Know your enemy and hedge accordingly.

Tesla was one of the world's foremost inventors, BTW.  Sorry, Edison. ; )

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