Q: I manufacture a simple/basic toilet seat cover. Is it safe to manufacture without violating any patents.
A: If you are making something that has been around 20+ years, then you very likely will not infringe any patents. After all, that is the idea behind patents: after a patent expires (currently 20 years from the filing date of the patent application), then anyone can use whatever is disclosed in the patent.
However, if the toilet seat cover is somehow new, something that you've come up with, or something that you've seen elsewhere and decided to copy it, then you should be concerned. You may need patent attorney's help to sort it out.
A: I agree with the first answer.
To further reduce your risks you can go to a plumbing supply store and look at the toilet seat covers. To the extent that any are marked with a patent, take a photo with your phone and look up that patent later. The manufacturers are apt to put their patent number on the product or the material that wraps the product or they risk losing the rights to seek damages.
You can also do some other searching using free tools and tips from my slide set at http://bit.ly/Patent_Searching.
Thanks for trying to do the right thing and stay clear of patents.
Kevin E Flynn
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