If I found a very similar patent to my invention but mine's still better, what should I do? 2 Answers as of June 22, 2017

I recently invented a product but found a patent for a similar product which has now expired. The patent I found works in the exact same way as my invention except my invention is not as bulky or have the redundant attachments this one has meaning mine would be a lot more marketable. My improvements are simple but they have a big impact so I'm afraid they'll be classed as obvious. Such as removing a handle which isn't needed and moving a device within the unit to another area to make the invention smaller. So is there any way I can protect my improvements to an invention that is now public knowledge?

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Law Office of Kirk Buhler
Law Office of Kirk Buhler | Kirk A Buhler
If you think that the improvements are obvious then an examiner may have the same belief. You might want to evaluate a design patent application as an alternative, where your design will need a different appearance. We can't make a determination without evaluating the product and the prior art. You may want to just make and sell the product without a patent, as long as you realize there is no protection from someone else copying your invention. You may want to contact a local patent law firm that can evaluate your invention.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 6/22/2017
Michael M. Ahmadshahi
Michael M. Ahmadshahi | Michael M. Ahmadshahi, Ph.D., Esq.
Almost all patents are improvements to existing technology! To that end, do not get discouraged by the old patent if you suspect that your "obvious" improvements might not be patentable. Obviousness is a legal conclusion best left to patent agents or attorneys to decide as to whether or not your improvements would be "obvious" in light of the old expired patent.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 6/22/2017
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