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Can you patent something that includes other patented parts?

Can you patent something that includes other patented parts?

I need to know what I need to know about the use of someone else's electronic device in an invention that I have in mind. Briefly, the item I am looking at is a [Editor: either a intergalactic space recombination engine or a towel.]. Any help or direction would be thankful.

Tacoma, WA

Likely yes. Everything builds on other things. For example, lets say you have an ordinary wooden stool. How many patents could there be?

Imaginary patents in an imaginary stool

First, There could be a patent on the stool itself. For example, the stool could have a relief area designed to form to one's bottom for comfort.

Next, the tools might be held together with screws. The screws could be patented, for example, because they could grip wood without the possibility of backing out.

Then, the screws could be made of a metallic compound. There could be a patent on the metallic compound, for example, because of its rust-resistant property.

And, of course, the chair is cut out of wood. There could be a patent on the plant from which the wood was cut, because even plants can be patented. And, their are other types of patents and intellectual property protection for the seeds of plants -- ask any farmer.

So, with all these patents, how do you build the stool? Either you will need to obtain patent licenses (usually hard), or, buy the various products from the patent owner. Purchase of a patented item implies a right (license) to use that item.

How Patents Discourage Competition

Finally, it is worth considering how patents protect you from competitors. Patents convey just a single right: Patents allow you to sue competitors that are doing everything described in your patent claim. So, it is important to understand that patents do not allow you to do what is described in your patent. In other words, just because you have a patent on something, does not mean that you have the right to make, use or sell what is in that patent. This is what can happen when one patent incorporates other material that has its own patents.

Finally, I would like to encourage you to work with an attorney to write your patent application. You need to properly disclose your invention and its relationship to the patented parts in your patent. Good luck with your invention.

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