Our Patent System in the US

Did you know that if you want to apply for a patent hear in the states it can be twarted by a similar idea that has been presented in a form of a press release, printed material, or website in another country?

yep, we have a “first to invent” system, as opposed to “first to file”, which most of the rest of the world has. makes sense, don’t you think?

but what does “similar” mean? it would have to be verrrry similar to thwart your patent. or obvious to combine it with other “prior art” to arrive at your idea.

Lets say you combined technology and put a button on an object and do a provisional patent. No one in the US has a patent unless someone filed late and you did not see it in a search conducted by your lawyer. A company in Europe claims they had the idea two years ago but I found no patent in Europe or US but actually produced the object in '05 & '06 in Europe and did a small run (80K) on the westcoast in '06 to a 1 particular store. Instead of a button I they put a joystick to the object but kind of the same concept. I called all the stores and they have not heard of the brand or company but this company has a branch on the westcoast. This company in Europe has a website with the object that was made in May last year. But with no information; just a picture of it. My notes on the idea dates back to the time and even before on my PDA.
It is similar this way.

well, first of all, not even considering anyone else, have you filed for a US patent? provisional or regular. if so, did you file less than a year after publicly disclosing your idea (not sure what constitutes public disclosure in this case, vis a vis manufacturer, it was in Europe, etc. get your lawyer to earn his money on this one or just look at the law/rules yourself - easy to search for terms on, say, uspto website)?

If not, the most you may be able to do is prevent sombody else from patenting it. hard to say without knowing the full story. obvioiusness of adding a button/joystick in general and obviousness of a button relative to a joystick. it might be that neither of you has something patentable…

I guess your lawyer has told you all this stuff but, surprise, i work for the USPTO and you’d be shocked at the cruddy lawyers out there. or not. they make a buck whether you do or not… they don’t always have their clients best interest in mind imo.

If you haven’t filed, file asap. might be worth it to do PCT if you plan to sell overseas. again, not sure how patent is affected since other co is european.

how about sending them letter with bluster (cordial bluster at this point). if you have a decent case they may not want to go after you, not worth the expense. if you want to go after them, well that can be an extremely expensive proposition. seems premature at this point since they are not stepping on your toes in a real way so far. i’d get out there and sell sell sell as fast as you can and deal with them later if they surface with their product in the market. of course, i dont’ know what the product is, what your us and worldwide potential is, so that’s my 2 cents based on a very generic understanding. i’m not an attorney too, so there may be aspects of this i do not understand. JUST MY 2 CENTS.

btw it’s you that did a small run and in 1 store, not them right? hard to tell from your last post.

No. They did a small run.
Thanks Obie.