Anyone ever patented a tool?

3% (or 1 in thirty people) that patent their ideas get filthy, stinking rich. Which is a lot better odds than the lottery!:)

87% of people that quote percentages make up their own figures. You can quote me on that even though I just made that up :D
When I was a kid I helped a farmer friend work his fields. He had a funnel with a long flexible tube attached to his tractor in just the right spot so that he could pee in it while tilling the land. Now thats a real time saver. He should have pattented that. :)
When I was a kid I helped a farmer friend work his fields. He had a funnel with a long flexible tube attached to his tractor in just the right spot so that he could pee in it while tilling the land. Now thats a real time saver. He should have pattented that. :)

Well, our tractors didn't have cabs, so I just learned to pee right off the side while it was still moving. :)
I have been told that some truckers did the same funnel hose thing.
It's kind of interesting to see an inventor's reaction to a first invention. In general, they are way overprotective and secretive about the whole thing thinking that others may steal it and reap untold riches.

My first invention was a 12 sided Rubik's Cube type puzzle in the shape of a dodecahedron. I made a prototype completely by hand (way before I ever got machine tools) and it worked fine. I designed all the inner workings the old fashioned way; in 2D on paper. I had a patent search done and all was clear. I was ready to file the application, when that month I saw the same exact design in Scientific American and Omni magazines. I was both devastated and somewhat proud that I'd done the same thing on my own. I was probably around 18 at the time. I designed another series of puzzles that were completely different and went ahead with a patent on one of those. I then contacted each and every toy company that I could find. They would all have me sign their contracts, which essentially said they agree to look at my idea, but can't guarantee that they are not working on the idea themselves. They were very one sided in favor of the manufacturer. The contracts scared me so much that I didn't want to work with any of them.

With the benefit of hindsight, I would have been better off to take my chances with each and every one of them, and focus my research more on how those manufacturing companies could make money with my puzzle rather than the workings and the mathmatics of the puzzle itself. I was spewing out facts like one of the 4 puzzles had so many combinations possible that if each combination was represented by an iron atom, the number of combinations would be represented by a sphere about the size of the orbit of Jupiter! Of course, having been a manufacturer now and seeing things from their perspective, I should have done more part cost analysis and definitively shown how much they could profit by manufacturing such a thing. If they can make money at something, and there is relatively low risk and tooling expenses for them, they are much more willing to go for such a deal. The patent really didn't have much to do with that part. It could have all been handled with contracts instead. That needs to be the primary focus for it to work; how can I make this manufacturer rich, and in the process, do well myself with a fair and equitable contract.

This was a lesson from the School of Hard Knocks that I offer free of tuition.
When my brother was about 8 years old he went on a field trip to a fish hatchery.
He noticed the way the fish would be flipping all over the place, then suddenly stop moving, they would be then lifted out of the water and have their eggs or spirm taken, then placed back into the water and the fish would start to move again as if nothing had happend.

My brother asked how they got the fish to stand still?
And was told that they turn on a type of generator that makes some type of electric field and seems to short out the fields the fish needs to move.
Then when they put the fish back into the water the generator is cut and the fish goes back to moving.

my brother went into his room and made the same idea work for a dip net and minnows.

It's near 30 years later, he still has yet to sell his patent to a company....
>It's near 30 years later, he still has yet to sell his patent to a company....

Probably a good thing since the life of the patent was only 17 years! :D :D

That's the way to do it. Congratulations to the brother for that one. It's funny how things work out sometimes. I'm working on a patent now that would have good applications for knifemakers. I may want to partner with someone who knows the market and knows knifemaking to help leverage it properly.
You can be easily defeated even after receiving a patent, and I don't mean because another company patents around it or because you (& your lawyer) is convinced your patent appears bombproof. - Be prepared for simply losing your rights because of the unanticipated extra $$ outlay protecting them. This scenario is VERY common, unfortunately> Established or even growing companies WILL always threaten you with or further even file lawsuits against you over YOUR valid patent. They will do so simply to test and destroy your capability to stand by it. It isn't an atypical strategy. One day you will receive their law firm's Cease & Desist letter (with an indication of damages if you won't), or other letter advising you that your patent is violating THEIR patent and then you'll end up having to hire a lawyer to defend yourself. Your mind will be swirling what with all the damages involved if they're right and you might have to pull your product from the market and its production and advertisement until the matter is settled. Your lawyer will advise you of the penalties/damages should you lose which will scare most people to death. And even in that first letter perhaps they will demand a settlement FROM YOU (ie send them some calculated $$ amount) upfront! These things can appear rather extortionate. And these costs to enlist an attorney to fight your fight are simply way too great since patent litigation is one, if not the most exorbitant, of any in the legal industry. Keep in mind the above provisos that you must be prepared to protect your patent when others violate it and hence this costs a lot of money as well. Some want to patent something to make money, others simply for the self-esteem and notoriety of having patented an idea. Either way be prepared that you may have to spend a lot more money subsequent to your receiving your patent!
An interesting example of this is that back in the 1960's a friend patented a game that used small plastic cubes . He called it "CUBEXX" with the X's being interlocked. He trademarked the name,too. After several years of marketing he was finally getting some return from volume sales. THEN the letter arrived. Exxon was suing him for patent and trademark infringement. They claimed the double X was theirs alone. This ,of course was baloney, as there were many products on the market with double X's ,some with interlocking X's. The fact that the pending suit was also for patent infringement was equally ridiculous, since Exxon made no games. All that aside he was told by a good attorney that he should change his trademark and game name. The cost of the suit could run $100,000 or more. After considering what the costs of reprinting all the advertising, boxing, packaging and instructions....he took his product off the market and gave up.This happens often, as rrrgcyrrrgcy pointed out. It isn't fair, but business is often not about being fair.VERY SAD.
Isn't there something about the looser paying the winner's legal fees in patent disputes?
It seems to me if you're hit with a fraudulently baseless action, a clever attorney could make some highly inflated rates by taking your case, winning and getting those fees recouped.

We're not talking about a complicated biotech patent case here. If it's knife related, it's probably a reasonably simple utility patent. You should be able to tell with a high degree of certainly whether or not you'll prevail unless, of course, they really DO have a claim against you.
Of course, that's not to say that the terrible scenarios described above didn't/couldn't happen. It's just that there are examples of the little guy really sticking it to the over-stepping big guy too regarding patent issues.
Once in a while the good guys do win.
That happened a couple of years ago with the emergency fire ladder inventors getting many millions from the fire safety company that stole their patent (even the photo of their cousin demonstrating it) . The big guys thought they could bully a couple of college boys. Boy, were they wrong!
There was an episode a while back involving a mono-shock rear suspension linkage for a sportbike (back when that wasn't just a given). If I remember it correctly, the inventor approached said motorcycle company who rejected it as a worthless idea only to promptly deploy the idea on their 'latest' sportbike. Apparently it took years, but there was some satisfaction in the end.

From what I understand, there have been some patents hold up in the knife industry the last few years as well.
I've never performed a patent search or looked at prior art re knives, however, as a sad state of what i and others mentioned above I know of one custom knife maker (one with sufficient recognition to have had their knife featured on the front cover of BLADE mag) who when queried by myself "have you considered patenting your design, or in fact going for a utility patent since on first look it's great!?" they incredulously/jokingly told me they knew in the end they would be sued by some other manufacturor (perhaps even in some tangentially related industry) or charged with a cease/desist letter and that their small shop would never be able to protect themselves against it & nor would they be able to afford to fight to protect their patent against future infringers. Yes, sad. I believe some of the unwillingness to patent might also be related to the admirable culture of open creative sharing in the knifemaking field but it's still a shame that talented people are so discouraged. Re patenting (and my numbers may be dated, and if you did everything yourself) BASIC fees just to get everything done are about $500 (utility app fee)+$700 (issue fee)+$3500 (17yrs maint)+any number of miscellaneous PTO fees and surcharges. You should try to "do it yourself" as much as possible and then provide your work to a patent attorney to be sure it goes through right the first time. So the added expenses are that attorney hourly rates can be $150 (on the cheap!) to $600depending, and fixed fees may start at just over $800 and up just to get a patentability evaluation (due to the analysis reqd of the prior art search) which would generally be reqd prior to their beginning the formal process of an application. Keep in mind in the early-mid 1990's when I was in the business that we even charged $.30 cents per xerox copy of anything! And for the time to travel to the govt law library, and for time online with lexis-nexis and their fees for subscription, and and and... you get the picture... (one of the reasons I disliked the work: money isn't everything but it drives many a business and for some patent boutiques it truly does.). Good luck with your endeavors.