The Improvement Patent: An Easier Way to Get Patent Approval
Let’s say the invention idea you had in the middle of the night turns out to already be patented. Time to move on and generate a different invention idea, right? Wrong! Examine your idea from a different perspective and perhaps it may qualify to be submitted for an Improvement Patent.
The Improvement Patent is the most common patent type issued today. It is also the most profitable. So what’s an improvement patent? Basically it’s an improvement made to an existing patented device. Improvements have to be new and non-obvious and the new improved product must be exceptionally better than the original.
Depending on the scope of the patent your improved device is issued, you may or may not need to negotiate a royalty fee with the owner of the original patent. Obviously, the more extensive your changes, the more likely you won’t be required to pay royalty fees.
Improvement patents are broken down by invention type as follows:
An addition patent requires that new components be added to the existing patented device. A good example might be the original vinyl record player. Initially it was a one record device, yet at some point someone patented a mechanism which allowed multiple records to be stacked and played sequentially.
A substitution patent can be issued to devices that have had major component or material changes which result in a better product. This is perhaps one of the easiest patents to acquire, given the dizzying array of new materials developed annually. A great example of this type of patent is the rubber automotive tire. The basic design remains unchanged, but changes to the rubber compounds and the tread patterns have yielded hundreds of new patents.
New Use Patents
New Use Patents basically provide new uses for old inventions. A great example is the Tempur-Pedic mattress, a very successful product in today’s marketplace. Yet the cushioning material was originally invented and patented by NASA to protect astronauts as they encountered forces of up to 36 Gs as their vehicles re-entered Earth’s atmosphere. In the 1980s NASA released the patent to the general public and a lot of people have slept more comfortably since then.
Improving existing devices is a great and perhaps easier way to develop patents. The Improvement Patent was developed for just that purpose and is the most approved type of patent issued today. If your latest and greatest idea has already been patented, take a closer look at the original patent’s design specifications. Perhaps what you had in mind is different enough to qualify for a patent after all.