We’ve been, off and on, trying to market the patent for my cable locking system. If you don’t know what that is, please visit http://www.wildcatman.com for information about the integral part of my suspension bridge. We had minor interest from Bridges to Prosperity (http://www.bridgestoprosperity.org/), but that’s about it so far. So, if you know anyone who wants to manufacture a cool cable locking system and send me a percentage of the profits, let me know!
Here’s a video Robin created about the system – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cLXrzC9K5wQ
Here’s the history of how I wound up with a patent for sale. It all started when I decided to apply for a utility patent. With no knowledge or experience in patents, Robin and I hired a patent attorney to do the initial search. They determined that it had never been done and, it also passed the test for being “unobvious” and therefore was patentable, in their expert opinion.
We knew that hiring an attorney to actually write the patent would cost more money than we had, but when we talked to these people on the phone they assured us that we could write it ourselves and do the drawings and they would charge a much smaller fee to help from that point on.
However, once the search was done, they wanted another $3-5,000 to pursue the patent for us. They denied ever telling us they would simply assist in some capacity. So we told them no thanks and bought David Pressman’s book, Patent it Yourself, (http://www.amazon.com/Patent-It-Yourself-Step-Step/dp/1413317197) and got to work. It took us a full month to get it all done to the best of our knowledge and understanding of the process. We wrote a check to the USPTO and sent them our specs, abstract, drawings, and claims – the main components of a patent application. Then we waited about 18 months (which they promise is typical). We did file online so could check in to see if any action had been done.
The eighteen months passed and our patent was rejected, with a “non- final” action. Our $500.00 patent search had failed to turn up another patent that the USPTO found and decided was too much like my invention. I looked at it and said no way, so the games began. We answered with revised claims, and it was rejected again. We filed a continued patent examination (get David’s book if you want more information) and tried again.
We got some help from the USPTO help-line who assured us that patent examiners are told to help people who weren’t using a patent attorney. That is, if we were lucky enough to get someone who was sympathetic. While our examiner did appear to be on our side, her letters always suggested that we needed to hire an attorney and she didn’t seem all that sympathetic. Considering that the attorney we did hire blew it on the patent search, we weren’t willing to spend the money even if we had it. I called the examiner and we had a few long conversations. It finally all came down to including the cable in the claims. Without it, my system did not lock.
Finally the examiner agreed to show our new claims to her supervisor. We waited some more, then one morning there was a message on our answering machine from the examiner. Her supervisor had told her she should not have rejected our most recent claim. She offered to rewrite it to include some things she felt needed to be there. We still have that recording.
On November 15, 2010, the cable locking system was allowed for a U.S. patent. It took almost three years and about $2,000. An attorney would have cost far more. For instance, had we hired the one who did the search, they would have charged $3-5,000 for the initial patent application. Then when it was rejected for the same reasons ours was rejected, they would have dinged us another several thousand to rewrite it and argue with the examiner. They all have the disclaimer that they can’t guarantee the initial patent search is thorough. All we can say about the entire patent process for the do-it-yourselfer is, “Good luck, and don’t give up!”
You can read more about all this in my book, Building a Small Cable Suspension Bridge. There is a link to purchase it on my website: http://www.wildcatman.com.
Images, diagrams, and text copyright 2013 by Marvin Denmark unless otherwise noted. Please do not copy and post my content anywhere without my permission. Thank you.