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  1. #1
    Visit docquesting.com docquesting's Avatar
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    Protecting Ideas

    Ok I have an idea I need serious protection for. I am a guy though only on a small fixed income unable to even hardly know where patent and trademark funds would come from.

    First thing I plan to is write down my idea as best I can. Then go to the Post Office and do a poor mans copyrght. Fortunatly I do know about that from a good friend of mine. Basically ask them to date your mail all over and wrap the post office special tape around it and it gets mailed to you.

    After this I plan on taking a copy of this or a more complete version down to my bank and have it noterized and signed by both myself and the notery public. I will again take this copy and do another poor mans copyright. This way I have double protection so far as that goes.

    My next plan is to get it copyrighted, or patented and trademarked. Of course somehow I will need to locate the funds for these proceedings.

    First question how well does a poor mans patent protect you from others wanting to steal your invention or idea. Secondly I do know that bigger companies are always "stealing" each others patents. I have read details in the national news of Intel doing this to AMD for an example only. So the second question is it really worth getting a patent as well.

    This might sound like some regular guy typing which of course it is. The situation with my idea is such that the above example applies. You could compare me and my idea is in such nature that a company as big as Intel would want it. "Side note, examples are only examples and only that but scenerio is true". So when you have such a situation with a regular guy like me needing to protect an idea what do you do.

    Please be serious guys becuase I doubt I would be posting here if I wasnt. I need honest serious feedback from experianced persons in such matters. Keep in mind I only have limited recources and am on a very tight fixed income.

    Anything and suggestions that will improve on what I will be doing and should do are what I am asking for. I need any details or information I should know about or have left out.

  2. #2
    SitePoint Addict jessebhunt's Avatar
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    From http://www.copyright.gov/help/faq/faq-general.html :

    I’ve heard about a “poor man’s copyright.” What is it?
    The practice of sending a copy of your own work to yourself is sometimes called a “poor man’s copyright.” There is no provision in the copyright law regarding any such type of protection, and it is not a substitute for registration.
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  3. #3
    Visit docquesting.com docquesting's Avatar
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    A poor mans copyright as I have mentioned above already is writing out in details ow drawing what you want protected. You then go to the P/O as mentioned and have the mark the date all over along with wrapping in the tape. That way if you cant afford a copyright you still have proof through a government service of the date you did it.

    The above link does state you cant copyright an idea as such and I appreciate that clarification. I still need feedback on the rest of the above post and anything I should perhaps think about.

  4. #4
    SitePoint Addict jessebhunt's Avatar
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    Actually, the reason that I posted the link is because it specifically addresses a "poor mans copyright."

    It states, "There is no provision in the copyright law regarding any such type of protection, and it is not a substitute for registration."



    The reason a poor mans copyright is innefective is because anyone can email themselves an unsealed, empty envelope. They could later use that envelope to try to claim rights to someone elses work. IMO, the poor mans copyright doesn't prove anything EXCEPT the fact that you know how to mail yourself an unsealed envelope.
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    Have you even checked to see if your idea was already patented? chances are it has been. Big fish tend to have an entire division setup to this patent stuff similar to microsoft and the other big wigs out there. They tend to purchase new patents every week just like the sell your site and sell your domain sections here on sitepoint.

    First I'd check if it's taken yet. If it's not, do whatever it takes to keep it a secret and if others you are closely involved with are interested in your idea, see if they can shell out some money ... or you may have to see if your local bank or someone else with money is interested in backing you up to obtain that patent. With all the fees and legal stuff that goes along with a patent, it's a huge process and it's a big price to pay. If you do get it, I believe you can sit on it for (18-20 years)? maybe less now, that you'd have to find out.

    As for the other comments in this thread about poor mans copyright of mailing yourself your works in the mail ... is a perfectly safe way to get things started for yourself. Put it another way: Isn't it best you did that AT LEAST? without any cake for the real patent? I'd say so.

    What you should CONSIDER ASAP is what's called a Provisional Patent for your works. This is only a small $300 fee, but enables you to post "Patent Pending" on your website or "product being sold" for up to 1 year. This means the day you file for a prov. patent you have exactly 1 year from that day to file for a real patent. Plenty of time, and only costs you $300 to get it "locked in" so to speak.

    Good luck.

    Regards,
    Peter

  6. #6
    Word Painter silver trophy Shyflower's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by psalzmann
    As for the other comments in this thread about poor mans copyright of mailing yourself your works in the mail ... is a perfectly safe way to get things started for yourself. Put it another way: Isn't it best you did that AT LEAST?
    No. It isn't best to do that at all. Why spin your wheels when you need a tow truck?

    In the US it cost $35.00 to register a copyright. However, a copy of the completed work must accompany the registration. You can't copyright an idea that is "in the works" because the minute you develop the idea, you change it and it is no longer a "finished work".

    The advice about checking into current patent registrations is good advice. I, too, have heard that patent theft is really quite easy, so be very careful if you go that route. If I had an idea to patent, I would find a good patent attorney to be sure I had the backbone of the law at my back.

    I don't think there is an easy solution, docquesting. Keep your idea private until you have test-marketed it or until you have a final version that can be trademarked (federally) or copyrighted. Then beg or borrow (don't steal of course! )the money to pay whatever fees you incur and hope that your idea will earn it back for you quickly.

    There are also programs for those on a fixed income that are trying to begin a business. Look here: http://www.sba.gov/ (The Small Business Administration). There are plenty of links about low interest financing, grants, etc.
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    SitePoint Wizard dreamscape's Avatar
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    Let's not confuse copyrights and patents. Copyright is an inherent right. A patent is NOT. There is no such thing as a "poor man's patent" because it not an automatic right. Ideas & processes are free, and CANNOT be copyrighted.

    You can copyright your design, etc on the invention, but that will not prevent anyone else from using the idea. That will just prevent someone from creating one that looks exactly the same.

    And also a copyright on the description, sketches, schemas, etc on the invention only protects the description, etc. It just prevents someone from copying the description, not from making or using the invention.

    If you really think you have a terrific invention, then you will have to shell out the cash to get your invention patented.

    http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/pac...ral/whatis.htm

    There are several organizations that claim to help out small inventors getting patents. Maybe you can check out one of those places.

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    Visit docquesting.com docquesting's Avatar
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    Basically I would use a poor mans copyright to get a date on around the time that I came up with the idea. Too many pros and cons in each scenerio.

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    SitePoint Wizard dreamscape's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by docquesting
    Basically I would use a poor mans copyright to get a date on around the time that I came up with the idea. Too many pros and cons in each scenerio.
    And what good would that do? Ideas are free. You have no inherent right to them.

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    Visit docquesting.com docquesting's Avatar
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    So would say those who wish to steal another mans invention.

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    Yes of course, copyright and patents are completely different things so are trademarks. If you are seriously considering to patent your invention, what you need to do now is file for a provisional patent. This is a small fee for something you must move forward within 12 months. Again, this allows you to put Patent pending on your invention and is a start.

    If you feel you have a good thing, do that and then obtain your $10K (at least) over the next 12 months to file for a real patent. Also, use this time to get everything situated for your patent, papers, lawyer, etc.

    My comment above about checking every month or so if your patent was taken or something similar was only based on the thought that you wouldn't file for a patent or provisional patent. If you are serious, by filing a prov. patent you can assure yourself that others will not be able to do the same thing until your time is up to file that real patent. I believe the patent office will adhere to your prov. patent and deny that application for the same patent idea the the other person might have. I'm sure you've heard of "Patent Pending" along with the patent # beside this "text".

    Regards,
    Peter

  12. #12
    SitePoint Wizard dreamscape's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by docquesting
    So would say those who wish to steal another mans invention.
    So says the law "doc". We're trying to give you advise here, but you clearly don't get the difference between patents and copyrights. Consult a lawyer. Maybe they can help you with your legal questions & issues. I've heard they're good at that kind of thing.

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    Yes, agreed. If anything is to be done first, in terms of a patent, you will need to have enough coin to pay your laywer. But from your original comment about a Poor Man's copyright, I still suggest mailing it to yourself no matter what others say. I did this and it's perfectly safe and legal. I've had no problems, but if I did in the future, and with the amount of codes/programs backed up on cds, dates, times, resources are all very comparable to what would be within the sealed envelope. The court of law would be on my side, period.

    Another thing you can do is simple. It's very cheap and it relates to your COPYRIGHT question - Have you heard of C-Site offered by Godaddy.com? I think for $15 you can zip up your works (or whatever you have) and use C-Site (legal government operated online copyright protection) which also gives you a logo (aka seal of copyright approval) to place on your website for that copyrighted content you may have.

    Please understand, this has nothing to do with your "invention" or patent. If you have no money at the moment, you might as well cross out the "patent" stuff within this thread unless you have $300 to shell out for the provisional patent suggestion in a few of my posts, then have a lawyer and about $10K to move forward within 12 months.

    Either way, good luck with all that, if anything changes, do let us know!

  14. #14
    SitePoint Wizard johntabita's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by psalzmann
    But from your original comment about a Poor Man's copyright, I still suggest mailing it to yourself no matter what others say. I did this and it's perfectly safe and legal. I've had no problems, but if I did in the future, and with the amount of codes/programs backed up on cds, dates, times, resources are all very comparable to what would be within the sealed envelope. The court of law would be on my side, period.
    No, the law wouldn't be on your side, for two reasons. First, there's not a single recorded case where someone's used the Poor Man's Copyright in court. As someone else said, it only proves you know how to mail an unsealed envelope to yourself. Second, you cannot copyright an idea that you have for a patent.

    As others have tried to point out, there's a difference between a patent and a copyright. A copyright applies to a work, such as a photograph, an article or book, a piece of art, a software application. A patent applies to an invented product or process. The orginal poster seems to think he can copyright his idea for this product or process by writing that idea down, but he can't. Patents are granted to the first one who officially files, not to the first person who writes down the idea. Bell submitted his patent on the telephone just two hours before his strongest rival, Elisha Gray, filed notice to soon patent a telephone himself.

    And something else to consider if your idea's that hot. When looking for funding, be sure to include money to defend against lawsuits. Bell had to fight off over 600 lawsuits before his patent was upheld by the Supreme Court, nearly 20 years after his original filing.

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    SitePoint Guru El Camino's Avatar
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    The "poor mans copyright" could be applicable if you were shopping your idea around. For example, if you wrote The Great American Novel, sent it to a publisher and they later published an almost identical book then you would have some evidence that they "stole" it from you.
    Another thing to remember about trademarks and patents is that, even if you are right, the deeper pocket usually wins.

  16. #16
    Not now, I'm kinda busy. pdxi's Avatar
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    Just a thought: If you want a reliable record of when you sketched out your idea, why not go to a notary?
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    King of Paralysis by Analysis bronze trophy
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    Quote Originally Posted by docquesting
    So would say those who wish to steal another mans invention.
    Geesh, give us a break.

    You can't patent raw ideas and thank god for that.

    So you're saying that Amazon should be the only people allowed to sell books on the Internet? That only Ford should be able to build cars?

    Whatever idea you have, I guarantee you that someone somewhere has thought of it first.

    Come on now, at least try to listen to what people are saying instead of throwing comments like this out there.

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    You don't copyright ideas, you copyright works of the intellect (article,s music, books, films etc.)

    You don't trademark ideas, you trademark ... trade marks !

    I suggest googling for the subject. You will find dozens of articles like this one:

    http://www.lawmart.com/searches/difference.htm

    that highlight the differences between the things

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    I'll give you the other side of things. You don't mention if it's a product, service, or business process.

    If it's a product or process and is really good enough to consider a patent then get out your checkbook, the one with 5+ digits in the balance, and go get a patent attorney. Don't even think about researching a patent yourself and relying on only that to file your patent.

    If it's a service then my attitude is make it better than your competitor's will be when they find out, which will take about 0.005 seconds once it's online. If you have to worry about your competition meeting or beating your service then you need to focus more on making it better for your market and less time trying to wrap it up in post office tape.

    Good luck.
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    Talking

    First thing I plan to is write down my idea as best I can. Then go to the Post Office and do a poor mans copyrght. Fortunatly I do know about that from a good friend of mine. Basically ask them to date your mail all over and wrap the post office special tape around it and it gets mailed to you.
    On the subject of Poor Mans Copyright - be very very careful. It is not a fool-proof method. The only fool proof method is to do it by the book. I'm not going to go into the whole reasons, as there is a site all about the Poor Mans Copyright that gives you VERY good reasons not to trust the method and to use the proper channels. Worth it in the long run!

  21. #21
    Visit docquesting.com docquesting's Avatar
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    Wow lots of input and no I hadnt heard of the godaddy option. This is a tangable product that everyone buys. If it was already thought of it would be on the market already. That is becuase the industry is a multimillion doller one. My idea basically takes a current product and makes it more acceptable to a wider range of people. That is a known product that has world wide niche that the current companies havent exploited the opportunity yet.

    I plan on doing a poor mans copyright myself. Ill ask the post office to use the special post office tape to wrap it in then use a stamp to date it all over the envolope. Once I get that in the mail I plan on getting a second copy noterized and done the same way. This will provide double protection and the first copy in away protects me from the notery public. I may go so far as to have a friend become one as it only cost like $30 or so I think.

    After doing this I can take this to anyone who may be able to finacially support me. I also thought about running an add for a retired attorney who may be interested in coming on board. I figured this could perhaps save me a lot of money.

    Any thoughts comments on this post? Note: I do understand that you cant copyright an idea. But as mentioned this would perhaps give me some protection till then.

  22. #22
    King of Paralysis by Analysis bronze trophy
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    Quote Originally Posted by docquesting
    My idea basically takes a current product and makes it more acceptable to a wider range of people.
    If it's a current product then it most likely already is patented/trademarked and/or copyrighted and you won't be able to do this anyway. As soon as you try the company will sue you for stealing their idea (which I believe you were yelling about earlier in the thread)

    And you really don't need to waste your money on postage, it doesn't stand up in a court of law.

  23. #23
    Visit docquesting.com docquesting's Avatar
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    There are differant brand names and differant types of lets say womans makeup? Well my idea is along simular lines of a product itself that is not protected just differand brands. Therefore if I can make the same product more appealing to a wider audience then I am the winner.

    Regardless of those who say dont atleast I have something which is better than nothing with a poor mans copyright. Of course the pros and cons have already been mentioned on this already so no need to discuss that issue any more. The main thing is making sure how a person and myself can best protect there idea.

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    Keep in mind too that you would need to prove in a court of law that there were damages -- that you were harmed by the theft of your material -- and you'll need to prove it. That's going to be difficult to establish if you haven't brought your idea to market. The copyright laws don't allow protection as much as they allow you to sue for damages. Your idea is in theory your property from the moment you came up with it, but your right to sue requires legitimate proof of both ownership and damages. And, keep in mind, if you can't come up with the money for the copyright/patents, you'll never be able to afford a court case.

  25. #25
    King of Paralysis by Analysis bronze trophy
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    Quote Originally Posted by docquesting
    Regardless of those who say dont atleast I have something which is better than nothing with a poor mans copyright.
    Actually as we have stated time and time and time again in this thread, a poor man's copyright is equal to exactly nothing so you won't have something better than nothing, you will have exactly nothing.

    Anyway, there is no harm to doing it (you're just wasting a few dollars on postage) so go ahead, just don't expect it to be worth anything if you ever do get sued or have to sue.


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