There is currently pending a change in US Patent law to make us a "first to file" jurisdiction.
I actually practice law, but NOT PATENT LAW, which is a recognized specialty. So any advice I give you is worth every penny you pay for it.
Even if you do obtain a patent, you might still find yourself out in the cold if someone with more re$ource$ makes an improvement and then gets a patent on the improved product.
I suggest you talk to Dutch and see what he is doing to protect his ideas. Maybe he can refer you to someone that can help you out for a reasonable fee.
There is a lot of idea borrowing happening on this board. That is actually one of the great things about this resource. You can do the same thing several different ways, and many of us use some of this and a little of that. But for those who are selling, the cottage industrialists, the members here support them pretty well.