What happens if someone fails to patent?


I was shocked to see that www.spypig.com patents are not found in patent search and my friend patented that procedure as his idea and submitted and received the patent rights.

Now can he send a notice to SpyPig to stop their service? or can he stop further websites like SpyPig?

SpyPig is a email notification system to find whether the recipients read the email or not.

The same way, if someone's idea was copied and patented is that person allowed to send them a notice to stop their service?


asked Sep 23 '11 at 19:07
427 points
  • You've got to remember that a patent is not a right to do something, but rather a right to prevent others from doing something. Also, a patent approved is only worth the paper it's printed on, meaning that it can be challenged and revoked. In the case mentioned above, if they can prove 'prior-art', then technically your friends patent becomes useless. But I doubt they would pay any lawyers to do that. In my opinion: your friend has a patent that would cost him millions to defend and probably wouldn't win. – Jeach 12 years ago
  • @Jeach - Good answer! – Gimp 12 years ago

3 Answers


The proper way is to notify them in a way that allows you to 'prove' you notified them (a receipt, a witness, etc.). In other words, don't send them an email.

Keep in mind that if they were doing it before you got your patent then you might not be able to enforce your patent against them and they might even be able to invalidate your patent due to 'prior art.'

Getting a patent is one thing. Being able to defend it is quite something else.

answered Sep 23 '11 at 19:37
1,194 points
  • Thanks! but is it possible to stop their service if they didn't patent their idea? – Gimp 13 years ago
  • Patents are there to protect the person who "invented" something. If they were doing it before you patented it then you didn't invent it, did you? So, generally, no. Even if they didn't patent it you cannot stop them (but since they didn't patent it, they also cannot stop you from doing the same thing). – John 13 years ago
  • I was just looking at what SpyPig does. There are lots of companies which do this same thing (adding tracking images to emails). Besides the inaffectiveness of the idea (most people don't view remote images by default) you have a lot more than just spypig to try to fight in court. If you're going to defend this patent, you'll end up with a large legal bill (and there is no guarantee you'll win in the end). – John 13 years ago
  • @John- thanks for opening my eyes :) – Gimp 13 years ago
  • Also can you please list few services such as SpyPig? – Gimp 13 years ago
  • Since you are an inventor, consider this great new invention: Google https://encrypted.google.com/search?q=email+tracking+serviceJohn 13 years ago
  • @John: Well, with the America Invents Act, first-to-file gets priority over first-to-invent now. – Henry The Hengineer 13 years ago
  • Thanks for the update. – John 13 years ago


Does your friend have the money to enforce the patent through the courts? If not, then practically the patent is not much use.

And what purpose does he have in making them stop anyway? He would be better off offering to sell them the patent perhaps. Or not.

answered Sep 23 '11 at 19:41
Susan Jones
4,128 points
  • Great.! He is not that much sound enough. Then is his patents useless? – Gimp 13 years ago
  • Well it's legal. But patents have to be enforced. And that costs lawyers' fees. – Susan Jones 13 years ago
  • Well. In case if won. Can we collect fine from the op? – Gimp 13 years ago
  • Sounds like you are being oportunistic and not adding value. Why not spend your time working on a business that contributes something to the world instead? – Susan Jones 13 years ago
  • @Gimp, you can try suing for legal fees but you're unlikely to win in a case such as this, unless you can prove bad faith. – John 13 years ago


You already said "point taken" when you were told that ideas usually cannot (and shouldn't ) be patented, here: Can I patent something like this? After that, you asked a question that involved you having an idea patented, here: How to sell my idea? Now it's your friend who has an idea patented, and you want to stop a valuable service from operating.
Why do I have the feeling that these are imaginary, theoretical stories?

It would make a lot more sense if you were trying to build a service that adds value to people's lives, and beat competition by offering a better service. There is no point stopping a working solution if you can't make a better one. I think this is pure patent trolling what you are thinking about, and it's no way to start a successful business.

answered Sep 23 '11 at 20:46
Mihaly Borbely
715 points

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