Monroe, NY asked in Patents (Intellectual Property) for New York

Q: before having manufactured a certain comb, do I need to find out if it is already patented by someone? and how do I?

2 Lawyer Answers
Kevin E. Flynn
Kevin E. Flynn
  • Patents Lawyer
  • Chapel Hill, NC
  • Licensed in New York

A: Kudos to you for wanting to do the right thing. The answer is that you need to work with a patent attorney to do a freedom-to-operate (sometimes called clearance) search. The attorney or a contractor working for the attorney will look for patents that that have not expired or published applications that have not gone abandoned.

If you know of a product that is very much like what you intend to sell, you can look at that product to see if a patent number is marked on the product or patent pending. The product may refer you to a list of patents on a web site.

If you find a product with a patent number on it and that patent has expired then you may be free to sell the product as an expired patent is not a problem and no one else should have been able to get a patent on that same product.

If you want to do some initial searching first before contacting the patent attorney, then review the tips in this slide set.

I hope that this helps.

Kevin E Flynn

Peter D. Mlynek
Peter D. Mlynek
  • Patents Lawyer
  • Moorestown, NJ

A: You should seek competent patent counsel. You may or may not want to get a clearance search done, depending on your business situation.

A very safe route is to make a comb that has been around for at least 20 years so that you are certain that any patents that may have existed on the comb have expired.

Good luck!

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