Friday, December 4, 2009

A New Patent - How to get a Patent or Patent Protection

Getting a patent for a new hot water system

I filed for a new patent a few days ago. The patent is for an improved hot water delivery system for residential and commercial buildings.

The new hot water delivery system is capable of providing faster than normal hot water delivery to any fixture in a home or building, and only to that fixture where the hot water is needed.

The basic idea is to place a pump at the water heater which when running will create a pressure difference between the hot and cold water lines with the hot water lines having the larger pressure.

At each fixture a cross-over valve connects the hot and cold water lines. The valve has a controller which has a temperature sensor in contact with the water in the valve. Each valve controller also has a communications link with the pump.

When you want hot water at any particular fixture you activate the valve by pressing a button that is either hard wired to the valve or uses a radio frequency transmitter to activate the valve. The valves can get their power from either the house current or batteries. Batteries would be great for retro-fit installations. We estimate the battery life to be a minimum of two years using four AA cells per valve.

When you press the button activating the valve, it checks the temperature of the water at the fixture, and if the water is not already hot, the valve controller sends a signal to the pump to begin pumping. The valve controller also at the same time opens the valve between the hot and cold water lines. Thus hot water begins flowing from the water heater with the cooled off hot water in the hot water piping being sent back towards the water heater through the cold water line which hooks to the inlet of the water heater somewhere.

So basically that is the new invention. Let’s examine the steps I’ve taken for protection so far. In a future blog I will cover how the patent attorney and I worked out the details of the patent, especially the patent claims.

After my partner and I decided we had a good idea for a new product we knew we needed to get patent protection. My partner found a patent attorney through a relative, a lawyer working for a very large and expensive firm. But what the heck, hopefully we would be able to obtain a good solid patent that could be enforced in the market place.

Foreign patent protection is complex and expensive. Very expensive. We decided to stick to just he US and Canada. Canada adds about $1,500 to the cost of filing.

I don’ remember all of the costs at this point, I did not sign the checks, the company did. I will be looking them up and reporting on all the details as far as expenditures go in the near future.

Our patent lawyer explained to us that the least expensive way to get some form of patent protection on our new idea was to do what she called a “document dump”. We gave her documents that explained the invention in detail, and she did the “document dump” which serves as proof in a court of law of when we first thought of the idea. Of course we could have thought of it 10 years before that, but this is absolute proof that you had thought of if by at least the day of the dump.

The reason we went with that was we had no money to pursue a patent, and this was the least expensive way to obtain some protection.

More about patenting the new hot water system in a future blog.

Bill the old inventor guy.