Q: How do I know if my idea infringes on a patent? Patents are very complicated. Do I make an appointment with a lawyer?
There are all sorts of products that are similar or improve on an already existing idea. My idea is in that atmosphere, but the marketing concept for my would-be product is vastly different than the product that already exists. I've been brainstorming ways to create a different design that offers the same function, but patents are extremely detailed. How am I supposed to know if my product would infringe on any of them? Do I just create a prototype and bring it in to a lawyer's office with a copy of the patent I'm trying to avoid infringing?
You should be working with a patent lawyer during the R&D process. In general, a patent lawyer can help you understand the scope of the patent, identify other patents in your technical area that might be of concern, and help you either design around any enforceable patents or seek a license from the patent owner. You should consult with a patent lawyer before you do anything that would be considered patent infringement.
DISCLAIMER I'm not your attorney. This is not legal advice. I do not guarantee any results.
Bernard Samuel Klosowski agrees with this answer
A patent attorney is the key to a proper answer to whether you infringe the rights of others.
But it can help to learn a bit about the process before you speak to the attorney. Here is some background on Freedom-to-Operate searches/opinions and on designing around a patent claim.
It can also help if you do some initial searches to become aware with at least part of what is out there.
This slide set teaches entrepreneurs on how to perform searches for relevant patent applications and issued patents. https://bit.ly/Patent_Searching
In the end, you will need to work with a patent attorney to reduce the risks of infringing patent rights of others, but becoming educated helps with the process.
I hope that this helps.
Kevin E Flynn
Timothy John Billick agrees with this answer
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