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Yes, You Can (Quickly) Invent Something Great!
Michael J Foycik Jr
by Michael J Foycik Jr.
September 16, 2013

The author is a patent attorney with over 28 years experience in patents and trademarks. For further information, please email at IP1lwyr@gmail.com, or call at 877-654-3336.

Need a great new product really fast?  Something unique, special, and with chances to succeed?  Then keep reading!

There is a vast treasure trove of great ideas and many proven successes which lack one thing: an update to modern technology and/or modern materials.  Sometimes their features weren't practical, or the right materials didn't exist, or the sensors weren't cheap enough, or the motors weren't strong enough.  Games or toys might not have been accessible to the average person, but would be with an electronic update. 

So, where can we find this treasure trove?  How can we use it?  Easy!  Find expired patents using an online search by class/subclass using the patent office web site.  Example: for toys, the Class is 446.  Subclasses are by topic, for example 446/15 is for toys with soap bubbles.  There are many unusual and exciting categories – you'll be amazed by what you see!  Other classes are equally amazing.

You want to steps?  Easy - go to the US Patent Office official site (www.uspto.gov).  Click patents, which brings up a listing.  Click the third item down, Classification.  The topic you'll want for an index (i.e., word) search is “search USPC index schedule and definitions.”  The topic for a classification search is on the right hand side about a fourth of the way down called “browse listing of USPC Class numbers and titles.”

Now, on to the actual search steps: on that site, click “search for patents” in uppermost right side of page.  It is in the light text just above the box “Search our site”.  In the blue text on the right half of the page, click on either the top link (USPTO full text and image database) or on the second link down (USPTO Patent Application full text and image database) depending on which type you want.

Choose a search option.  The “Quick search” is the top option and always works well, but for a Class/subclass search you'll need to use the advanced search option (i.e., the second one down).  In the box that appears, type ccl/class/subclass, and click search.  For example, to find the above-noted soap bubble category, you'd type ccl/446/15 and click search.  A listing of all patents in that category will appear. 

Another good search area is that for special visual effects.  For that, a good place to look is the “signs and displays” area, class 40.  There are classes for containers, cards, jewelry, dispensers, clothing, and they all have things needing an update. 

Will the update be patentable?  Quite possibly – improvement patents are very common, and many updates will bring something new to the table.

Try it! 

Caveat: if your product is new or improved, you certainly should consider filing a patent application.  There is a first-to-file system under the new AIA (America Invents Act) patent law.  That means anyone can steal your idea and file a patent application first.  So, be the first one to file!  Why take chances?  Provisional patent applications have a very low cost, and utility patent applications are somewhat higher in cost but are excellent if you can afford that cost. 
The author is a patent attorney with over 28 years experience in patents and trademarks. For further information, please email at IP1lwyr@gmail.com, or call at 877-654-3336.