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  1. #1
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    Do folks patent bikes and bents?

    I have some ideas for new designs for recumbent bikes, also for standard bikes. I haven't seen any other bikes that incorporate these ideas, though I guess there might be some out there that I don't know about. I was wondering...if I have an idea for a radically different recumbent or upright bike, basically with innovations designed to make the bike more practical, is this something I might want to patent? Or is it pointless because people can just get around the patent by doing it slightly differently?

    I don't really want to start a bike company, but can you sell a design idea to a bike company? Or will they just rip it off?

  2. #2
    Pedaled too far. Artkansas's Avatar
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    That's a big subject. In general, you want to make the patent as broad as possible to protect yourself as widely as possible.

    Some companies will give you a Not Invented Here reaction, and some will be interested in your idea.

    I think you need to do some reading on ideas and protection. "From Edison to iPod" is a good place to start. Check out the Patent Office website. And talk to a patent lawyer.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by beelz View Post
    ... I was wondering...if I have an idea for a radically different recumbent or upright bike, basically with innovations designed to make the bike more practical, is this something I might want to patent? Or is it pointless because people can just get around the patent by doing it slightly differently?

    I don't really want to start a bike company, but can you sell a design idea to a bike company? Or will they just rip it off?
    For very-simple-and-inexpensive items, patents are almost worthless. Factories in China and elsewhere simply ignore them. If the item is a small-profit, small production item, it's not going to be worth it for you to even litigate.

    In the US, companies generally won't express any interest in "an idea" at all; most will not even consider such solicitations unless perhaps the idea was so complicated that it was not easily demonstratable outside of the industry, and they knew you had in-depth experience of the concerned industry. You must either hold a granted patent, or you must have made an application for a patent, and that is what they will buy (either the rights to the existing patent, or the rights to a patent should one be granted).

    Part of a patent application is a search for prior art that might disqualify your patent application, and there's a lot of prior art concerning bicycle design. If you have invented "a new handlebar basket, specifically to hold an iPod and a Blackberry" maybe nobody's done that--but if you have invented "a new kind of handlebar basket" to carry nothing in particular, you should know that there's been a lot of "improved" baskets patented already.

    Most companies won't pay much at all for pending patent rights, because a lot of applications for fairly-simple things get rejected during the application, and many more get overturned within the first few years of their issue. For a while the makers of Rollerblade skates were lawyering up and suing other companies that began making inline skates, because they had applied for a patent--but people found antique catalogs from nearly 150 years ago, that shows basically the same thing: rollerskates with all the wheels one behind the other.

    And to top it all off-
    Bigger companies will generally only pay for a patent that they know is useful/profitable. The best way to prove that an idea is profitable is to start building and selling the {whtever** yourself.
    ~
    Last edited by Doug5150; 09-14-07 at 05:54 PM.

  4. #4
    Pedaled too far. Artkansas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by beelz View Post
    Or will they just rip it off?
    Definitely avoid those "patent development" firms that claim to help inventors. Those are a ripoff.

  5. #5
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    Wow, thanks for all the good advice. Yes, I'll have to think about this some more. I see some simple solutions for major bike practicality problems, and nobody seems to have implemented them, but it might be because they are bad ideas that wouldn't work! ) But maybe not. I'd like to discuss them on the forum, but then I think...yes, and ruin my chances for a patent )

  6. #6
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    I would really think about it...

    I currently have a patent pending - 2.75 years into it, got $25K in it when you include the $14,500 Feasability Study (WHICH was done waaaay too soon in the patent cycle!) so that is about $10,000 on patent alone.

    Next item will simply be prototyped and brought to market. Patent in my mind simply shows the big boys how to circumvent your patent, and I don't have a lawyer war chest.

    I agree that the search is the most important part!!! I wish I had done more searching prior to launching my patent attempt.

    We will see what the future holds!

    So save up lots of money - talk to several patent attys before you sign with one. If the work isn't getting done to your satisfaction, walk. You should be in only about $3500 for the patent, but I would also plan on about the same investment in searches AFTER you have done your preliminary searches. Searching is free and if you find your item early on it sure saves you lots of time and effort.

    Go To: http://www.uspto.gov/ - and give it a shot.

    I also hear that times when a patent can't be secured a trademark can provide some protection. That may be my last shot prior to production.

    HTH! and good luck

    PS - Keep it to your self, and for sure don't disclose to online forums or folks you really don't know.

  7. #7
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    The overwhelming majority of products with patents never go into production. Also, IF you should become very successful, the knockoffs will come sooner or later. There's nothing you can do to stop them or even competition from developing a product similar or better than yours! In fact, if others try to copy your product, that's a good thing! It means you're doing well!

  8. #8
    Third World Layabout crtreedude's Avatar
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    I was just talking with a patent lawyer this week - he said there has been a big change recently. Now you have to come up with something that an expert in the field would not think is a logical conclusion of what is currently available. This is definitely raising the bar. Many of the best ideas are just a step more. And, most good ideas are pretty obvious once someone explains them to you.

    I am not a patent lawyer and I do not play one on the Internet, but I thought you would find this interesting.

  9. #9
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    A patent is a right to bring a law suit. A patent is only useful if you can sue a large producer or large consumer. IMO why don't you just sell your idea for a few $1000, which is probably at most what it is worth. An idea is not worth much, remember that distribution, sales, support, ect are all important. Your idea is just a small part of the final product.

    Look a Crank Brothers, Strida and Brompton as companies that has managed their intellectual property well.
    2000 Montague CX, I do not recommend it, but still ride it.
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    Wieleder CARiBIKE (folding), decent frame.

  10. #10
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    What, you have to spend money to get a patent??? Well, I wasn't even thinking about that. I doubt if I'd do that. Geo8rge, how can you sell an idea for a few $1000 if you haven't protected it? Anyone can just steal it.

    Anyway, maybe I will post these ideas to the forum later, if I'm not going to patent them.

  11. #11
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    No, i don't have any manufacturing experience, and have never even driven or built a recumbent bike! (though I'm seriously thinking about getting someone to build me one)

    But I have some ideas on how to redesign them to make them more popular, by making them more practical for the masses to use as alternatives to motorbikes. I will post them soon, to another thread, so you can all show me why they wouldn't work.

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