Can I use an existing product for a new invention?

I have an idea for an invention but it includes an existing product. Can I just use that product in my invention or do I need some kind of permission? I am very new to the invention process and would really like go for it but Im not sure how to make the prototype from scratch.

3 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
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    Your invention is really the additional things you add to the existing product and the combination of the two. So, yes you can use existing products. Many, perhaps most inventions utilize existing technology. Focus your written description (called a disclosure) on the improvement aspects. Describe in detail how it is made, works and the benefits it provides over the existing product alone.

    With your disclosure, you should file a patent if you want to realize value from your invention. When you are ready to file a patent application, hiring a patent attorney is probably your best bet. But, if you don't have the money, you may want to file a provisional patent application with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office ( The provisional application fee is only around $100. The provisional application will give you 1 year before you need to file a full application. So, it doesn't replace the application, just delays the expense of a full application. If you can afford it, it would be best to use a patent attorney. You can do it yourself but it is important that you prepare the application in the proper way and with good attention to detail. There are many books on the process. One good one; "Patent it yourself" by Pressman.

    Before you spend the considerable cost (typically 5 to 10 thousand $) for a patent application by an attorney, you should search to see what other patents already exist. You can do some searching yourself for free at the USPTO search site:

    If you find searching difficult or confusing, you can pay a patent attorney or agent to conduct a search, but that may cost several hundred to a few thousand depending on the area of your invention.

    Building your invention is a good idea, particularly if you need to work out key operating elements and/or fabrication steps. But, making a prototype is not required. It is only required that you can describe how it is made and how it works so that someone with skill in the area can make it. Good luck.

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  • 1 decade ago

    In order to avoid copyright/ patent issues, you can check the government website. Slight alterations to an existing invention usually doesn't infringe on that patent.

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  • 3 years ago

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