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A long while back I posted an idea for a new operating building.  It is a donut shop with a big donut on top and police cars out front.  It works similar to the MTH fire station but the police cars rear wheels spin and smoke.  The donut shops name is "Smokin' Donuts" I didn't want to let a good idea fall into someone elses hands so I am going to patent the idea and design.  What I would like to know is if anyone would actually buy this if it were produced?

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@RRAddict posted:

A long while back I posted an idea for a new operating building.  It is a donut shop with a big donut on top and police cars out front.  It works similar to the MTH fire station but the police cars rear wheels spin and smoke.  The donut shops name is "Smokin' Donuts" I didn't want to let a good idea fall into someone elses hands so I am going to patent the idea and design.  What I would like to know is if anyone would actually buy this if it were produced?

Too late. I patented it back in January.  I anticipate needing a loss on this year's taxes to offset my tax liability in other ventures and liked this idea.  You can thank me now for the money I saved you.  Even provisional patent applications cost a few thousand dollars.   

-Greg

Here is another dirty secret about patents.  After you shell a few thousand bucks for application fees and whatnot, and you actually get a patent granted, the USPTO requires Maintenance Fees to be paid annually for the patent to be enforceable.  Trade wars are not cheap!

About 15 years ago I came up with an idea of a Dudley Doright Saving the Maiden on the track operating accessory.  I drew up functional plans and was working on the prototype.  I had someone perform a patent search to see if anything was out there.... there was not.  A co-worker of mine was previously a Design Engineer at Lionel, Mount Clemens Michigan..... He had not seen the idea before.  So everything looked promising.

Then the Lionel Catalog came out for the new year (can't remember what year that was) and I was flabbergasted to see Damsel in Distress operating accessory.... Wow.... So I gave up on that one

Cops & donuts.  Even Woodland Scenics celebrates this inseparable pairing with their Scenic Accents figure line in all the scales.   

Here in mid-Michigan we have a VERY popular shop called...Cops & Donuts...

Cops & Donuts link

...which should be a must-stop for anyone traveling to/from our hallowed northland.

But, I guess the timing for this sort of accessory release would be...questionable?  There's a lot more at play hype...unfortunately...these days about the community value of our Men/Women In Blue.  I can only imagine the snarky comments that might emerge from an accessory as you describe it.

Frankly, we'd love to have something like this on our own layout.  And most of the friends/family that find their way to our basement I'm sure would smile and get their 'yuks' from seeing it in action.

Those of you who are family- or friend-connected to The Blue Line, what say you?

And, may God bless them and keep them safe every day in providing their service to the community.

KD

Last edited by dkdkrd
@Paul Henion posted:

Here is another dirty secret about patents.  After you shell a few thousand bucks for application fees and whatnot, and you actually get a patent granted, the USPTO requires Maintenance Fees to be paid annually for the patent to be enforceable.  Trade wars are not cheap!

About 15 years ago I came up with an idea of a Dudley Doright Saving the Maiden on the track operating accessory.  I drew up functional plans and was working on the prototype.  I had someone perform a patent search to see if anything was out there.... there was not.  A co-worker of mine was previously a Design Engineer at Lionel, Mount Clemens Michigan..... He had not seen the idea before.  So everything looked promising.

Then the Lionel Catalog came out for the new year (can't remember what year that was) and I was flabbergasted to see Damsel in Distress operating accessory.... Wow.... So I gave up on that one

I can just imagine how expensive they can be.  That was the point of my post.  I don't think the OP realized how expensive it is to get a patent when the entire point is to be as airtight as possible to protect your intellectual property.   You definitely get what you pay for and even a weak patent is not cheap.   You'd have to sell an awful lot of accessories just to make of up the patent cost (let alone everything else).

So you stole someone else’s idea?

Steve

No.  He listed it freely in the public domain.  Besides, my donut shop is different from his as the footprint of mine is much larger.

C'mon!  It was pure sarcasm.  It costs way too much to patent a niche item at that price point.

-Greg

Last edited by Greg Houser

A COPS & DONUTS action accessory?

I wouldn't put that accessory on my layout because of concern that some layout visitors would not view it as cheeky pop culture humor, but as my personal and edgy political statement.  I drafted more text about the underlying huge community relations and criminal behavior problems some urban police departments must now address under duress, but deleted it as unrelated to model railroading.

Mike Mottler

Greg,

I'd like to correct you misconception on the cost of filing a provisional patent, and subsequent costs.  Below is a screenshot of the fee summary from my most recent provisional filing (10-02-2019).  You'll see it's only $140.00 for "small entity" status, and would be less than if I had chosen "micro entity".  I did not because mine was filed by my firm, which is a small business.  An individual can file as a "micro".

2021-04-23 15-09-00

Provisional filings must be updated to a "normal" filing within one year or they will be lost.  The cost of the updates for the last two "normal" patent filings I've done is approximately $7,500.00 each, using professional patent law firms in each case.  Payment of maintenance fees has been required thus far on neither of these .  The first of them was awarded Dec 25, 2018; the second is still "pending".

Mike

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  • 2021-04-23 15-09-00

Here is yet another dirty secret:

Owning a patent does NOT prevent others from using your idea. All it does is give you a license to sue them if they do. You might not think the difference is significant, but you would be wrong. Anybody who knows what they are doing would chuckle and mumble phrases like "prior art" and "obvious to a skilled practitioner of the trade" and tell you to go away. At this point, you will take a cold, hard look at the costs of defending your "rights", and you will very likely decide to take their advice.

Avanti,

Thanks for being supportive and positive in your comments.  It appears from them that you consider the rest of us who've posted here, every last one of us, to be missing from the group you label as "Anybody who knows what they are doing ...".

Q: Why would 350,000 patents be issued by the USPTO per year (2019, latest figures available) if they are effectively useless?

I prefer to take a more positive view, and I would like to see more of us support the hobby by pursuing more business that grows it.  Innovative products can be a big part of that effort.  Patents have been pursued, awarded and utilized since day one in the toy train and model railroading business.  This will surely continue.

Beware of pontificators who imply that the answer to any question is "simple", as in this case.  It never is.  Consequently that does not mean that you shouldn't pursue something because it's difficult at times.  Only you will know whether you're wasting your time if you do.

You're correct in implying that there's a legal 'chess game' to play in using the patent system.  But, from my experience as a user of that system for nearly 40 years, it's neither as difficult nor as dire as you say.

Mike

Avanti,

Thanks for being supportive and positive in your comments.  It appears from them that you consider the rest of us who've posted here, every last one of us, to be missing from the group you label as "Anybody who knows what they are doing ...".

Well, first of all, being critical of anyone on this list is the last  thing I would ever intentionally do. If I failed in this, I sincerely apologize for the mistake. And, unlike the above, this is not intended as sarcasm.

That said, I must admit that I think it should be clear to anyone who actually read what I wrote that the "anybody" in your quoted text refers to potential infringers, not to patent holders, so it is a bit difficult for me to understand how you read the text as attacking list members. Just the opposite, it seems to me.

Q: Why would 350,000 patents be issued by the USPTO per year (2019, latest figures available) if they are effectively useless?

I suspect you know some of the answers to that question. If not, then we are going to have trouble communicating.

I prefer to take a more positive view, and I would like to see more of us support the hobby by pursuing more business that grows it.  Innovative products can be a big part of that effort.  Patents have been pursued, awarded and utilized since day one in the toy train and model railroading business.  This will surely continue.

I'm afraid that the days are long gone in which Josh Cohen would call up AC Gilbert and horse trade over patent rights. IP litigation involving anything more than mere vanity has become ruinously expensive. I wasn't trying to be "positive", I was trying to be helpfully realistic.

Beware of pontificators who imply that the answer to any question is "simple", as in this case.  It never is.  Consequently that does not mean that you shouldn't pursue something because it's difficult at times.  Only you will know whether you're wasting your time if you do.

You're correct in implying that there's a legal 'chess game' to play in using the patent system.  But, from my experience as a user of that system for nearly 40 years, it's neither as difficult nor as dire as you say.

Mike

I hold 17 patents (and not the kind you get via LegalZoom). I have frequently testified as an expert witness in federal patent cases. You may disagree with my opinions, but perhaps you may agree that they may be a bit more than "pontification".  I stand by my advice.

Peace.

Well guys, none of us are joined at the hip.  Our common bond is the in the name, hobby. The likes and dislikes begin there. In fact with Lionel, our differences begin with the two rail vs. three rail thing.

As for the donut shop, I love the idea.  Since my 20’s I have not been able to eat anything fried in grease.  But the shape an taste of the donut I continue To love and enjoy, but not by ingesting 🙄.

So, since I can’t eat one, the shop has a special significance to me, for my layout. And to my friends who have been policemen, it would carry a special meaning.

But the “fake news” news stand, it will not be welcome to my layout.

Even I enjoy viewing OGR Forum photos when many of the structures are the identical. But none of the scenes ever look the same. So I feel there are identical original ideas, but they never look the same.  This Make any sense?

I will enjoy our great “hobby”, and continue to read about these great train ideas an original problems that we all have.

John

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