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If one had an idea for an invention, but had no ability to make such a device, can you make the "idea" legally yours, insofar as it is specific?

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You do not need to able to make it but your application needs to explain how to make it and use it. If a workable implication needs the expertise of a mechanical engineer, you can hire a mechanical engineer. It may turn out that it is impossible, it may turn out that the mechanical engineer needs to be listed as a co-inventor, or it could be straightforward for the engineer to implement your great idea. To ultimately be yours, you need to get one or more granted patents.

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  • Probably depends somewhat on the nature of the patent sought. At a minimum it must be possible to prototype by someone with ordinary skill in the relevant area of expertise based on the patent. Also, some devices also might call for expertise other than a mechanical engineer's (e.g. it might be an electrical device).
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Feb 7, 2019 at 20:21
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Nobody owns “ideas”.

To get a patent you have to describe something in sufficient detail that it could actually be built.

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  • Would be nice. I've looked at some software patents and not known how to implement them, and I'm more than ordinarily skilled in software development. Commented Feb 7, 2019 at 18:01
  • A patent is much more a protection of an idea than a copyright (which is a particular expression of an idea). The idea has to be quite specific and is limited to certain kinds of ideas that can be implemented in some useful way, but I don't think it is accurate to say that you can't own an idea.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Feb 7, 2019 at 20:18

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