In fact, I have been using a boat winch that I bought at Lowes
for a couple of years now. An invention that has been in practical
use for over a year is no longer patentable.
"Practical use" has no meaning in patent law (as far as I know).
"Commercial use" and "public use" do however and if you are making
jewelry for sale with the tool for more than a year you certainly hit
the commercial use 1 year bar on patentability in the US (most
countries have a similar rule if not a stricter one).
The patent office wants you to rush your idea into the marketplace.
The Constitutional mandate requires that patent law "promote the
progress" thus the distaste, in law which the PTO follows, for folks
I had no knowledge of it and now I am the proud owner of a trade
The "protection" of which can last forever...as long as nobody else
comes up with it too. But there is a risk. An independent inventor
who invents your trade secret invention and properly applies and
receives a patent has the right to sue you to stop using your
process/invention when they find out about you. (There is now one
exception to this latter and that is a "business method," the term
conveniently left by Congress for the courts to define.)
PS I went away for a 2 week vacation and never caught up so I
finally just today deleted 3,500 messages and started fresh. My
apologies for butting back in with what might be perceived as a
negative blast (rather than just a clarification of facts which it
James E. White
Inventor, Marketer, and Author of "Will It Sell?
How to Determine If Your Invention Is Profitably Marketable
(Before Wasting Money on a Patent)" www.willitsell.com
Also: www.booksforinventors.com and www.idearights.com