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QUESTION: If I found a very similar patent to my invention but mine’s still better, what should I do? 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?
ANSWER: Improvements to existing devices can be patentable – if the improvement is not obvious. For example, making an existing device smaller may be patentable if the way in which it was achieved is not obvious in view of similar, prior devices.