I told some guy on Slashdot, that patents, by themselves, are worthless.
beernutmark writes "I have two science-loving kids ages 7 and 9. My youngest knew Neil deGrasse Tyson's name at age 4. With the holidays coming up, I am looking to get them some quality science-related tools. Two items on the list are a quality microscope and/or a real rock-hounding kit. I am looking for any other gift suggestions for this year or future years (or even for younger kids for other readers) and hints on good sources."
There is no such thing as a provisional patent. There are only provisional patent APPLICATIONS. Your provisional patent application will die a swift death on the stroke of midnight on its first anniversary date of filing -- snooze you lose - unless you follow-up with a non-provisional patent application. Don't get me wrong, the provisional patent application has its place as establishing an early date of conception/filing... just don't expect that it is anything more than that.
Look, a patent, by itself, is fairly useless. You need a plan after you get your patent(s). Frankly, a patent seeker should also bank some money for product development. If you thought a patent was expensive, I guaranty you that 9 of 10 patents would require at least double the expense to make commercial-quality patented products _and_ make them in commercial quantities. So, if you think seeking a patent is going to break your budget, then let the next Sergey Brinn and Larry Page step in and do the heavy lifting, and get the heavy profits. No pain, no gain.
BorgeStrand writes 'Patenting is an expensive process, even coming up with some sort of proof that your idea is unique (and thereby try to attract financing) may be prohibitive for the lone inventor. So what do you folks out there do when you come up with a good idea but don't have the means to patent it or market it to someone who will pay for the patenting process? And how much sense does it really make for the lone inventor to patent something? Would it make more sense to publish the whole idea, and make it (and my inventive brainpower) up for grabs? If my ideas are indeed valuable, what is the best way to gain anything from them without investing too much financially? What is your experience?'
hey!: Outstanding reply. I agree 100%. Look, in the United States, we have a first to invent system. That means, the first person who invents an idea is entitled to an invention for at least a year following that invention (there are some caveats re: follow-up publication or offers for sale). If you want to play it safe, record all details of your idea, and subsequent embellishments to a laboratory notebook. Your best bet, will be to get a notebook that is permanently bound together, and has page numbers. Date each page, and occasionally have a witness sign the pages with major breakthroughs. I've told others of my ideas very liberally, and to be honest, seeing others' reactions tends to confirm that there is too much cost, too little market, or to little in the way of implementation for the idea to be commercially profitable. Those ideas that make it through the sieve -- PATENT ON ! And line up those investors, implementers, promoters, patent attorneys... ad nauseum. As I always say, "More cooks enhances the broth."