Patent regarding dovetail jigs

Hello,
I am interesting in the production of a dovetail jig at a very good price. There is a lot of maker of dovetail jig: Sears Craftsman, Porter Cable, Keller, Stots, etc... And there is also several patents regrading dovetail jigs. I can't imagine that some manufacturers pay someone just to have the right to produce a dovetail jig. Despite Their models are quite similar.
What do you know about that? Is it possible to sell a Carftsman/Porte Cable look alike?
Any help needed. Thank you very much.
Thierry
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Your question is interesting but not one with a simple answer - I am not an attorney but have worked on several projects where a patent surfaced after the product shipped - it was messy and NOT CHEAP to resolve. This is NOT legal advice but comments based on my experience.
If you are aware of a patent (you cannot claim you did not know due to your statement below) then if you were sued and lost you would have to pay triple damages plus court costs. Most infringement suits cost $500K to $750K to conclude (they take place in Federal court not a local state or county court) and even if you "win" you still pay the court costs.
Your best bet is to employ the services of a GOOD intellectual property attorney to review the patents and advise you of pitfalls you may encounter, design arounds, or improvements that you could patent yourself.
Good Luck, Billy B

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Thierry B. wrote:

If there is an applicable patent that has not expired (remember, patents are only good for a limited time, IIRC 37 years but do check with the patent office) then your choices are to license the patent or design around it. Designing around it is tricky and is as much lawyer-work as engineer-work.
And yes, manufacturers do pay license fees to other manufacturers if they cannot successfully design around the patent. The license fee is then built into the selling price.

--
--John
Reply to jclarke at ae tee tee global dot net
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are
Make that 17 years.
And do you have the money to fight a patent suit?
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Glad somebody caught that. I was wondering if the ghost of Sonny Bono had been working his extend-copyright-periods-for-a-million-years-to-protect-Mickey-Mouse magic on patent law.
Having been on both sides of patent disputes there are a few thoughts: -- nobody wants to go to court; most disputes are settled out of court by licensing agreements
-- I don't see the domestic (U.S.A.-centric assumption) market for dovetail jigs as being all that large so unless the OP really has a significant improvement (which may itself be patentable) I would *guess* it's not a pretty market to get into. If OP has a patentable improvement then license that back to somebody who is already tooled up for manufacture and has an existing market presence.
-- Certainly for practical purposes, you can copy ANY patented device or implement any patented idea so long as you don't share your implementation or make money from it; keep a low profile. If you violate a patent for a $200 dovetail jig one time for your own use it's not worth the legal fees to even write a cease-and-desist letter. I seem to remember there being a fair use clause that may even explicitly allow this -- but that might not be US patent law. The original purpose of patent is to provide commercial advantage enough to cause new products to appear in the marketplace. (Of course now the purpose is to lock out you competitions business model --- having nothing to do with providing improved goods.)
hex -30-
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Read the patents. The particulars of the patent are called out and you can tell exactly what features are covered. The patent holder may be a design engineer that works for the manufacturer or they may have bought the right from an individual.
You may be able to sell a "look alike" as long as the particulars that are patented are not the same. Just keep in mind that Sears and Porter Cable have a lot more money than you do. They have lawyers on retainer or on staff that are very willing to go after an infringement. Unless you are very wealthy, you don't have enough money to win.
I used to work for a guy that had many patents to his name. One in particular he licensed to about 10 other companies to manufacture the item in their region. We used to laugh at how simple it would be to get around the patent. It was a molded plastic part with holes in it to save material and cost. All they had to do was put a thin wall of material where the holes were. The only thing viable in the paten was the holes. No on ever thought of it and they paid royalties. Ed
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The first thing I have to ask is: if you are going to sell a lookalike, why do you think that you can do it at a lower cost than the compitition? You do intend to actually make money, don't you?

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