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What is a public domain idea in the U.S?

 

A public domain idea in the United States is an idea that you are free to use without getting permission from another party.  Ideas that are NOT in the public domain are those that require the permission of other parties to use. Such permission is required if an idea is the subject of a trade secret, subject to protection under an unexpired patent, or is subject to copyright or trademark rights. 

 

In general, with important exceptions we can help you with, a patent that is more than twenty-one (21) years old is expired, and the ideas in that patent are in the public domain. Similarly, ideas presented in publications that were published more than twenty-one (21) years ago are also in the public domain.  As noted, there are exceptions to these rules, so if you find an idea you want to use in an expired patent or publication more than twenty-one (21) years old, you can ask us if it is clear and we will answer your question for free if possible. 

 

These same rules apply in most countries, but due to limitations on resources, we are only able to help with ideas you want to use in the United States. 

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