Patent Office Reform

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  • #2
Ivan Seeking
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I've had a few decent ideas over the years, mostly with respect to diving equipment, but the process of going from idea to product is daunting. Most of the hurdles involved the Patent Office.

I'm glad to see change is afoot, but I'd like to know more about those changes: http://www.kktv.com/home/headlines/Congress_Has_A_Shot_At_Passing_Jobs-Creating_Bills_127088273.html

Most of my work involves new products - mostly for industrial use - and I agree that reform is needed. The fact is, patents are a joke. Right now I am involved in a number of patent applications through a big company that's a customer. But the value is the feather in my cap. The patents themselves are probably worthless.

Ex: A few years ago I was involved in designing a custom motor for an application that had an extremely high starting torque requirment. So what was the customer planning to do as soon as we finished? They planned to get the motor copied illegally in China. It was automatic!

A patent is only as good as one's ability to detect violations and then to do something about them. For a large company selling millions of widgets, a patent has value. To the little guy, patents are usually a waste of time. This creates a huge disincentive for innovation. And innovation is what we most need to rebuild our industrial base. So I put patent reform right up there with debt reduction, in significance.
 
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  • #3
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One look at the fees and I quickly surrendered some of my dreams.
 
  • #4
Ivan Seeking
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One look at the fees and I quickly surrendered some of my dreams.

The funny thing is, the patent is just the starting gun [well, really it isn't even that. It's more like the popcorn stand]. Sales is where the wheels hit the road, and that is a far more daunting challenge than patent applications.

You don't need a patent to go to market. In fact, there have been a number of times that it made far more sense to just start selling something than to mess with patents. Get in fast and hard before anyone can compete, and then get out when the competitors catch up.
 
  • #6
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A patent is only as good as one's ability to detect violations and then to do something about them. For a large company selling millions of widgets, a patent has value. To the little guy, patents are usually a waste of time. This creates a huge disincentive for innovation. And innovation is what we most need to rebuild our industrial base. So I put patent reform right up there with debt reduction, in significance.

I don't disagree with anything said in this thread so far, I don't think. I'd be curious if you could elaborate a little bit more on the disincentive for innovation because of the patent process (or patents in general).

I used to work in the intellectual property (IP) area and was always told that patents helped innovation. Being the good scientist that I am, I didn't believe it because they were just claims (lol) and no data was ever shown to back it up.

As a "little guy", are patents really what fuels your fire to develop new technologies?

P.S., I read the original article... hooray for the potential change to first-to-file!
 
  • #7
berkeman
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Get in fast and hard before anyone can compete, and then get out when the competitors catch up.

Very good advice. :smile:
 
  • #9
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Get in fast and hard before anyone can compete, and then get out when the competitors catch up.

Beat me to it, you did.

I'd like to add "sell out to likely legit competitor just before the off-shore cheaters copy it".

If you go to the patent office search room, you will see most people entering have blank sheets of paper rather than bringing thier own ideas in a search to see if it already exists.

The patent office is the best place to find someone elses idea and steal it.

I spent many an hour there in the early 80s searching patents to see if my guitar sustainer idea and transposing tremolo ideas had already been patented.
 
  • #10
SixNein
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I've had a few decent ideas over the years, mostly with respect to diving equipment, but the process of going from idea to product is daunting. Most of the hurdles involved the Patent Office.

I'm glad to see change is afoot, but I'd like to know more about those changes: http://www.kktv.com/home/headlines/Congress_Has_A_Shot_At_Passing_Jobs-Creating_Bills_127088273.html

The patent system absolutely blows. Software patents are so bad that I personally will not release software, and I don't see any reforms coming to solve the problem. I had some hopes that the supreme court would weight in during the Bilski case, but my hopes were in vain. I wish justice Stevens would have got one more vote.

Software patents are so bloody broad that one can't avoid infringement. One can only hoard patents for a defense and hope the guy suing creates software.
 
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  • #11
Moonbear
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Believe it or not, from some of the stories I've heard from my boyfriend, it's the "patent pending" status that seems to carry the most weight. He's currently engaged in a licensing dispute with someone who has had patent pending status on an invention for ages. It will likely NEVER get patented, but she and her attorneys play every game in the book to keep it pending...file, extend, appeal, etc. As long as it's pending, the competitors are motivated to license the product from her rather than copy it outright, just on the off chance that the patent should ever be granted...they're making too much money on the product to risk her turning around and suing for damages if they infringe and she actually gets the patent issued, even though they could roll the dice that it's more likely than not she will never get the patent as the claims are currently written.

It's not just patents either, but copyrights are another huge issue, and becoming a bigger issue because changes in the copyright law reverted a lot of materials from public domain back to copyright protection, which really made a huge mess for those already using those materials as public domain.

It's sometimes interesting, because I'm an academic scientist and my boyfriend is an intellectual property attorney, so we don't always view patents and patent regulations the same way. The same convoluted regulations that keep him employed are what make my profession more costly.

Bringing U.S. regulations in line with other countries has both benefits and drawbacks. There are more benefits from the patent "first to file" approach, but the mucked up copyright laws we have now also were partly a consequence of bringing our copyright laws in line with other countries, which completely reclassified materials in terms of their copyright status. First to invent vs first to file will really make a big overhaul in regulations, but then the other issue will be whether that will apply only prospectively or retroactively. If it applies retroactively, it'll make a mess of pending cases, and existing patents, just as it did with copyrights. Changing the law to first to file will certainly wipe out the companies that pretty much just buy up portfolios from inventors with the intent to sue for infringement even though they've had no hand in the inventions themselves.
 
  • #12
SixNein
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Believe it or not, from some of the stories I've heard from my boyfriend, it's the "patent pending" status that seems to carry the most weight. He's currently engaged in a licensing dispute with someone who has had patent pending status on an invention for ages. It will likely NEVER get patented, but she and her attorneys play every game in the book to keep it pending...file, extend, appeal, etc. As long as it's pending, the competitors are motivated to license the product from her rather than copy it outright, just on the off chance that the patent should ever be granted...they're making too much money on the product to risk her turning around and suing for damages if they infringe and she actually gets the patent issued, even though they could roll the dice that it's more likely than not she will never get the patent as the claims are currently written.

It's not just patents either, but copyrights are another huge issue, and becoming a bigger issue because changes in the copyright law reverted a lot of materials from public domain back to copyright protection, which really made a huge mess for those already using those materials as public domain.

It's sometimes interesting, because I'm an academic scientist and my boyfriend is an intellectual property attorney, so we don't always view patents and patent regulations the same way. The same convoluted regulations that keep him employed are what make my profession more costly.

Bringing U.S. regulations in line with other countries has both benefits and drawbacks. There are more benefits from the patent "first to file" approach, but the mucked up copyright laws we have now also were partly a consequence of bringing our copyright laws in line with other countries, which completely reclassified materials in terms of their copyright status. First to invent vs first to file will really make a big overhaul in regulations, but then the other issue will be whether that will apply only prospectively or retroactively. If it applies retroactively, it'll make a mess of pending cases, and existing patents, just as it did with copyrights. Changing the law to first to file will certainly wipe out the companies that pretty much just buy up portfolios from inventors with the intent to sue for infringement even though they've had no hand in the inventions themselves.

I would love to see information based patents thrown out. The US is over protecting; as a result, it is effecting the ability to innovate. Software is like a legal minefield right now. Genetics is another good example of a mess.

I agree that copyrights are too strong. I don't believe music like the beastie boys could even exist now because the art of sampling is pretty much over due to copyrights.
 
  • #14
Moonbear
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Genetics is another good example of a mess.

I get infuriated when I see patents being issued for genetics. Recently, a patent was even issued for a partial sequence of a human gene. It wasn't even an engineered sequence. It's used in a diagnostic test. To me, that should NEVER be something patentable. The test can be, but the gene shouldn't be included in the patentable part.
 
  • #15
SixNein
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I get infuriated when I see patents being issued for genetics. Recently, a patent was even issued for a partial sequence of a human gene. It wasn't even an engineered sequence. It's used in a diagnostic test. To me, that should NEVER be something patentable. The test can be, but the gene shouldn't be included in the patentable part.

Software is worse... just listen to the story by NPR
 
  • #16
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Software is worse... just listen to the story by NPR

Dude, I posted that just few posts above yours. :uhh: Why double post the same link?
 
  • #17
SixNein
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Dude, I posted that just few posts above yours. :uhh: Why double post the same link?

:blushing:

ahhh my bad.... lol

Just look at it as extra advertising. =)
 

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