New idea for a foot pedal

Discussion in 'Effects, Pedals, Strings & Things' started by Effect of Sound, Feb 11, 2006.

  1. Effect of Sound

    Effect of Sound Member

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    I have the idea for a new pedal that will be revolutionary. I am no engineer, I just know the technology is already there to do what I want. Does anybody have any ideas as to how to move forard with the idea to a major company say....like Boss/Roland?
    I know that I need to protect my idea. I know it will sell. Any feedback will be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. John H

    John H Silver Supporting Member

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    Based upon my very limited experience, I'd be very careful taking an idea to a larger company. A few years ago, my brother and his friend developed an idea and a prototype for a better bicycle lighting system. They contacted a large, American bicycle manufacturer and demonstrated the idea to that company. They were told that the company was very enthusiastic. Soon afterward, however,they received a turn down letter.

    Within a year, that company was marketing the exact same lighting system, at a much higher price than what my brother had intended! When my brother and his friend protested, through a lawyer, they were met with threats from a large, prestigious law firm who suggested that litigation would last a lifetime and result in financial ruin.

    All that being said, I'd try to patent your pedal and offer a smaller, well-known boutique builder a limited partnership.
     
  3. Effect of Sound

    Effect of Sound Member

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    Thanks for the insight John. There has to be way to have the idea patented first. Like I said, the technology is already there. I am only combining things already available.
     
  4. 908SSP

    908SSP Supporting Member

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    Sorry if I am the doubting thomas but you have two posts and your looking for advice on a "idea for a new pedal that will be revolutionary"?

    SCAM
     
  5. Effect of Sound

    Effect of Sound Member

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    Thanks for advice splatt. That sort of info is extremely helpful.

    908SSP...thanks for your insight as well. Very constructive.
     
  6. pcutt

    pcutt Member

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    Check out the Inventors' Alliance for resources about inventions and patents, and Nolo Press for legal resources. I've been to some IA events and am impressed by everyone's willingness to help.

    Speaking of help, I volunteer to be a beta tester for your new pedal :)

    -Paul
     
  7. StompBoxBlues

    StompBoxBlues Member

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    I've also got a great idea for a pedal (one great one, the other could be great..I've got to see how it sounds)...

    Years ago I did research on another music equipment idea. I found that no, you cannot really patent an idea if the putting together of the pieces would be "logical" or apparent to someone that was considered an expert in the field.

    I'm a little vague because it was so many years ago I checked. I'll give one example, I thought about patenting an "amp lock" which would be a lock that wouldn't allow someone to play your amp without a key. The idea was for when you leave an expensive amp at a practice place (my case was a drummer that let friends play it when I wasn't there. I didn't like that so I had removed the fuse. Came in one day, they had stuffed tinfoil in there to bypass it!) where you had to lock it to remove the key and it couldn't be turned on without it (the key was connected to an electrical switch).

    I thought that since at the time I would have payed extra bucks for it, maybe others would. It wouldn't stop anyone determined, but still, the non-techie folks would be put off.

    Turned out that you couldn't patent something like that, as good as I could find out. Problem is it isn't anything new. It would be somewhat like...locks are common, locks on doors are common, so you couldn't patent putting a lock on a cupboard.

    IF I had invented a new kind of lock...like one you could put into the input jack, that would expand when turned, be non conductive, etc. then I might be able.

    Point is, it's impossible to say without knowing what pedal you are thinking of...(I don't want to know..) only you can judge if it is a unique idea that is not "logical" in the sense that if you said to someone "I want a pedal that does this" and they would immidiately do what you said.

    You are best off reading up on the net about it, contacting a patent attorney if you truly believe this could be a moneymaker, and plan on doing it.
     
  8. Gigbag

    Gigbag Member

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    Good avice so far.

    See a lawyer before contacting anyone else. Make sure that lawyer knows what he/she is talkig about. Don't trust a lawyer who wants to take a peice of the action and represent you -- unless he offers and you obtain independent representation.

    Your idea may be incredible, but it may not be patentable (part or all of it could be covered by an existing patent, or it is simply does not meet the meet the standards). Only good research and an application can determine that.

    A patent takes time and money.

    Competitors can get around your patent by designing around it, and through marketing.

    I good protected idea and be sold or licensed to another, or made yourself. Sometimes developing a market first can help increase the value when negotiating with other companies.

    Always use an NDA (one that your lawyer drafted -- read the fine print) when contacting other companies.

    Don't forget about trade marks and trade names.

    Good luck, and let us know how it goes.
     
  9. StompBoxBlues

    StompBoxBlues Member

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    Good advice. I'm assuming NDA is a Non Disclosure Agreement.

    Which brings up another thorn. A lot of companies don't want your ideas, because they actually may have it in development, or have considered it and it is on the shelf. I am sure (from my own experience in elextronics companies) that they document WHEN they had the ideas, or started work on something, but even so, they don't want lawsuits even if they CAN prove it.

    I think it is similar to unsolilcited songs...they might get that great one, but generally they are opening the door to lawsuits if they have anything already that sounds like it.

    It's just not easy.
     
  10. MrSage

    MrSage Member

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    Your best bet is to go to a boutique effects maker like a Zvex or a Toadworks, etc., since the big FX companies will screw you.

    Unfortunately, they're probably not going to want to hear what you have to say. At least not without knowing your idea up front. They probably get e-mails all the time saying, "I have a great idea for a new type of effect!"

    Most of those ideas are either not-so-great or they're just completely unfeasible. Some are probably decent, but the chances that they'll ever be built are minimal.

    If you want money for your idea, you're going to have to get someone's attention first. That's extremely unlikely.

    If you just want your idea to be made, then your best bet is to go find a DIY community and share your idea. It's amazing how much free information those guys share with each other...and a lot of their ideas become a lot stronger once they've been bounced around a bit.

    That's my $0.02.

    You either need to make it yourself, find a partner who won't rip you off, or share your idea with the DIY community and feel happy about the fact that someone, somewhere may make it a reality.
     
  11. emjee

    emjee Member

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    Contact 4mspedals.com effects. It is a co-op where people will build anything you want to spec, and just charge you for time and materials. If you think you have got something original then make sure you check out the samples on their page, because you will be blown away. You wouldnt think a little metal box three inches high, eight inches long, and four inches wide with twenty two knobs could sound like a moog synth, but they can do it. Be prepared to hear sounds like never before. And all analog. I have a "Triwave Pico-generator", its pictured on the picture page of their site under "MatthewGuest"

    Matt
     
  12. rgxb2807

    rgxb2807 Member

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    That triwave Pico-generator looks and sounds nuts. How is it? Is it useful?
     
  13. Bob Sweet

    Bob Sweet Member

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    I could be wrong, I'm not a lawyer. But I don't think you can patend an "idea". I would think you may need a working prototype of some kind first.
     
  14. Toasted

    Toasted Member

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    And we all know that you can't patent circuit boards, but can copyright them as art.
     
  15. spentron

    spentron Member

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    You would be surprised at what can be patented. Still, you would need to search the prior art (patents and all other forms of disclosures), it could be covered a lot better than you think. However, with a combination effect things may be more difficult. If all the parts are easily available in seperate boxes that can be patched together in 2 minutes by the layman, I would have definitely argued it "would have been obvious at the time of the invention" back when I was a patent examiner. Stupid thing is even that rejection is difficult in the face of a real bulldog lawyer. The examiner needs to prove "motivation to try" even when, in all likelihood, someone's tried it just out of random experimentation with no specific motivation at all.

    It gets better ... the patent game tends to not be optional to play. If you're not going to patent, it may be a good idea to completely disclose every detail of your invention as soon as you disclose any of it, because later someone could come along and sue you for some detail of your invention. Or you could have to defend yourself against a patent that should have never been granted in the first place. Examiners are very overworked and overwhelmed, and the system is rigged to favor granting patents unless the rejection is clear-cut and further disagreements can be fought out in court ... which far favors larger companies. If the musical industry was as agressively legalistic as most other arts, I wouldn't be building effects pedals (and even as it is I should get with taking my own advice).

    There are alternatives to patents. One is public disclosure to a privately operated publication (web forums would count, but aren't reliable and may be hard to search). Another option is a SIR (Statutory Invention Registration) which provides no patent rights but discloses your invention through the patent office and only costs about 50 bucks.
     
  16. dividedsky

    dividedsky Member

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    Tell us what it is first, then talk to a lawyer. :)
     
  17. virtualtoad

    virtualtoad Member

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    That is correct. To obtain a patent, the device (or whatever) MUST currently be offered for sale.... same with Trademarks - to obtain a trademark, you must currently be using the logo/wordmark in commerce.
     
  18. Franklin

    Franklin Member

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    I have a bit of advise.

    - Build a working prototype.

    - Talk to a lawyer.

    You probably will not be able to get a patent for the pedal. I had a great idea once too. I was working on a prototype and I spoke with a lawyer. He told me to build the prototype and get it to the market as quickly as possible. He felt that even if there was a patent dispute that I wouldn't be able to afford to fight it. So, that's what I did. I was still working on the prototype when ironically, my idea showed up in my monthly guitar rag at the time. They called it Fretlite or something. My idea actually took it farthur than they did, incorporating rom cards with lessons and tunes on there and also lcd displayed lights at each fret.

    Go for it, but realize that it will cost you a lot of money and time.... also look into doing a business plan.
     
  19. jamison162

    jamison162 Member

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    Is this some kind of "effect"?
     
  20. drbob1

    drbob1 Silver Supporting Member

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    You could call Dave's at 608-785-7704, and ask for their amp guy (I forget his name). He's designed some pedals, selling some direct and others thru Studio Electronics (designed the Chaos pedal for them among others). Zachary at Zvex loves to talk gear and would probably have some suggestions, too. There's no question that before you do anything you need to build (a) prototype(s) and preferably have them tested by guitarists to make sure the idea is useful and well implemented. Going by the experience of PaulC and Scottie (Lovepedal and Proanalog) you can get a decent business built up by word of mouth and the internet (like here, on THE GEAR PAGE ;)). I just don't think Boss is going to be the ticket for any cool new idea-they don't have to pay their own designers for new ideas why should they pay you?

    The Chaos pedal's experience is instructive-it's not an intuitive design and not derived from the usual Fuzz Face/Tubescreamer heritage and does something no other pedal does, but it's still a darn small market. If your pedal isn't a "me too" pedal, it's going to take a long time to get it going and you'll never get rich. In fact, the only guy I can concieve of getting rich from effects is Mike Matthews (of EH and New Sensor). Even the certified geniuses like Anderton, Moog, Cornish, Zachary aren't rich AFAIK.

    Man, do I talk a lot???
     

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