Q: How do I protect myself against people trying to take an expired patent my dad had over 20 years ago .
My father was seeking investors over 20 years ago in California for his windmill patent. A 70-year-old gentleman that dad contacted all those years ago just contacted me and is interested in the patent now that it has expired. He says he kept the paperwork because It was so intriguing. How can I protect the family from anyone capitalizing on his idea and leaving the rest of dads family out .
A: If the patent has expired, you can't "protect" the patent; it is no longer valid and enforceable.
A: Unfortunately for you, once a patent has expired anyone is free to make use of it. The purpose of a patent is to bring new things to the marketplace and to add to the general knowledge base of the country. This is why it included in the Constitution. It is possible there are some other intellectual property issues that might give you some protection, such as trademark or copyright or even improvements that did not make it in the expired patent so it might be worth your time to consult an attorney to look over your case, but in general, there is no protection once a patent expires.
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