The End of the Free Ride

All About Patents and the Lawyers Who Are Happy to Sell You One

You were born to be a winner, but to be a winner you must plan to win, prepare to win, expect to win.

—Zig Ziglar, sales expert

This is the section where we have to talk about lawyers and patents and things like that, so hold on to you wallets and I’ll try to make it as painless as possible. First, let’s take a look at the kinds of legal protections that are available.


This is applicable for the invention or creation of a basic new process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter. The idea must be primary, useful, original, and operational. Utility patents are designed to provide 17 years of exclusive use for the idea that’s covered. What a utility patent actually is, however, is simply a passkey to the courthouse. If someone copies your patent, you can’t call the Patent Police and have the rat thrown in jail. You have to get a lawyer and sue him in court. But remember, rats have lawyers too (more on that unpleasant thought later).

Confidentially, just as an aside, I know of some small companies that make little novelty products and automatically put “patent pending” on all of their product packages, even though they’ve never seen a patent application in their lives. They figure, “What the heck? There are no patent-pending police, and so if the warning scares off a few competitors, why not?” The problem is, since their competitors do the same unsavory thing ...

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