July 21, 2008 1:11 PM EDT
Here`s what I would suggest. Because you`re talking about patent, I would suggest that you find yourself a good PATENT lawyer. I`m not one and although I can look up the answer to your question the same as your relatives can, there may be nuances to the situation that can only really be understood by a patent lawyer. Patent law is a very specialized field.
That being said, I would imagine that one would talk to you as an initial consultation before you retained him or her (which most attorneys will) and let you know what they thought the merits of your situation and whether you are in a position to claim intellectual property rights in your invention.
If you don`t know a patent attorney, call the bar association in your state and get a recommendation. When you think about how much money a licensing deal could provide for you, it`s worth the up front cost...
Just my $.02...
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