From: email@example.com (Doug White)
Subject: Re: OT; How to get a patent?
Date: Sat, 08 Jan 2000 13:42:38 GMT
In article <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Susan Hill" <email@example.com> wrote:
>BrinkWeld wrote in message <firstname.lastname@example.org>...
>>How would a person go about getting a patent from the U.S. Patent office? I
>>have heard of patent lawyers and companies that make make it sound very
>>difficult, so you will hook up with them. my head!)
>There is a good book on this called Patent Strategy by H Jackson Knight -
>WILEY Publishers. It is just that - a STRATEGY book. As others have said a
>patent is worthless unless you intend to defend it - no-one else will - and
>this books explains how to get the same protection for a lot less bucks.
The US Patent system has a lot of serious flaws. It is expensive & time
consuming to get one, and then unless you have deep pockets to defend it,
it isn't worth the paper it's printed on. Even if you drag some
infringer to court, the merits of whether your invention is unique or not
is frequently decided by a judge who doesn't have the technical
background to make a good decision. Then it boils down to a battle of
'my expert witness can beat up your expert witness'.
I took a course on patent law at MIT many years ago, and was pretty
disillusioned. Large companies (GE was notorious for this) would steal
some little guy's idea, and wait until he sued. Then they would bankrupt
the guy with their team of salaried lawyers. Once the inventor had
morgaged everything to the hilt, they'd settle out of court, buy the
rights for a song, and then fight tooth & nail to defend the same patent
against any other large company that dared to try the same stunt. Half
the time the idea gets stolen by some overseas outfit, and suing them is
When I worked at HP, one of the corporate lawyers told us to use any idea
we wanted to. The odds of being sued were small, and HP could usually
negotiate a good deal if they had to. Most of the time, the patents were
held by other large companies like Tektronix, and HP would just go
through their files to find some patent Tek was infringing. HP would
wave that about, and everyone would back off.
As far as the original intent of the patent system (encourage small
inventors to bring their ideas to the market by providing limited
protection), it's all gone sour.