How similar is too similar?

CarpeNoctuCarpeNoctu Posts: 3subscriber
edited January 2008 in Protecting Your Ideas
My fiance and I have created something together (not the same thing I posted about earlier) and were doing our own patent search for similar items, and found some things that are similar, but their concepts are way too complex and not as good as what we have, no matter the concept (believe it or not, I am not saying that out of pride...). There was one in particular that sounded more close to ours than any other. This one was too complicated with too many parts, requiring too much time to deal with and not stable enough. On top of that, I don`t think theirs would last as long as ours either.
To give you an idea, lets use hardhats (I like headgear, as you may have noticed if you read both of my posts ). In this example, I have created the first hardhat, as it is today. Another guy has created another type of hardhat, but his has to be put together by the user in order to wear it, taken apart to take it off and it is made of an inferior product (like his using plate glass where I am using durable plastics) and runs the risk of falling apart when it is being used...
The problem is, technically, they are both hardhats and they both serve the same basic purpose. If he beat me to a patent, can I still get some type of patent or am I just stuck?

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