Peoria, IL asked in Patents (Intellectual Property) for Illinois

Q: I have an idea but its been patent already by somone but my design is different for the object.

Yet should provide same feeback as the other object does.

2 Lawyer Answers
Kevin E. Flynn
Kevin E. Flynn
  • Patents Lawyer
  • Pittsboro, NC

A: You may have heard that if you build a better mousetrap, the world will beat a path to your door. This highlights that there can be several solutions to a particular problem and each can obtain their own patent. This may be the situation that you are in.

If you get a patent for your improved device, you would need to be sure that you do not fall within the scope of claims from any other unexpired patent. Getting a patent is not a license to violate the patent rights of others.

If the earlier patent is for the ornamental appearance of the object (such a patent is called a design patent and the number starts with the letter D), then it may be possible to have another product that looks very different from the product in that design patent. Your product can provide the same use to end users, it just must avoid the distinctive ornamental appearance captured in that design patent.

See for some material about design patents.

If you found this answer helpful, you may want to look at my answers to other questions about patent law are available at the bottom of my profile page at

Kevin E Flynn

Griffin Klema
Griffin Klema

A: If I were you, I would explore a design patent, which is often far less expensive than a utility patent. However, be warned that if your device/product is or does something that is claimed in an existing (unexpired) patent, it may infringe (even though you may have a novel design). In addition to exploring design patentability of your product, you may want to ask a lawyer for a freedom to operate opinion to ensure that your product can be sold without worrying about infringement. Good luck!

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