The patent system receives a lot of criticism and it is not without its faults. But as a governmental program to advance technology, it’s hard to beat. To understand how it works and why investing in a well-drafted patent can help an organization reap significant rewards (or why a poorly drafted patent may fall on its face) consider this real-world example. Most of us attribute the birth of powered aviation to Wilbur and Orville Wright.
For most, the topic of intellectual property (IP) is a hot mess of “I-don’t-knows” conflated with “I-don’t-cares.” But it shouldn’t be. Knowing what IP is and how to protect it is fundamental to most businesses’ success, whether they know it or not. A common trap related to this attitude is to “trip over dollars to pick up dimes.” Especially for startups – for whom “keeping the lights on” trumps “protecting my IP” by several orders of magnitude on their wish-lists – this trap is almost universal.
Everyone who participates in filing and prosecuting a patent application encounters the Duty of Disclosure, whether you be an inventor, a technology group manager, inside intellectual property (IP) counsel, or inside litigation counsel (hopefully this is not your first encounter!). Most of the information here is pretty basic, but it is worth a revisit from time-to-time. Also, there are some proposed new procedures in the U.S. Patent Office that promise to make complying a little less worrisome and a little less expensive.
When consumers think of “tech” companies, Apple, HP, Cisco, Microsoft, Samsung, and many other technology giants come to mind. While all of these organizations are clearly innovators, they do not, even when combined, account for the majority of innovation in the United States. The vast majority of innovation occurs in small companies, many of which have fewer than 10 employees. Small, innovative companies live to create new technology. They are passionate about discovery, research, development, and modernization.
U.S. Patent 10,000,000 (ten million!) was issued on Tuesday, June 19, 2018. As stated in a recent article from Law360, it took just a little over three years for the USPTO to grant one million new patents. By comparison it took 200 years to get to patent number five million and, if the trend continues, number 11 million is less than three years away. Every year the number of patent applications filed and the number of patents granted grows.
As our world changes, the world of intellectual property changes with it. Day by day, courts across the country are signaling that the tools and methods needed to protect such property are changing too. Those not paying attention run the very real of risk of getting left in the dust.
To practice as an intellectual property (IP) attorney means to focus on the intersection of technology, business and law. Mike Martensen arms his clients with a competitive advantage in IP by falling back to basic underlying themes of attention to detail, dedication to excellence and discipline.
Google owns most the online-search market and, along with Amazon, a very sizable portion of the online retail market. But neither Google nor Amazon started as the megalithic giants they are today: They both grew very rapidly because they held a competitive edge in markets they helped create.
A survey of landmines that may await you, and an advantageous roadmap to guide you away from danger with sound pointers on how to protect your IP while operating in the government sphere. You’ve just won a government contract under a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) or Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) award for a prototype space widget or new cyber application – great!
Article one, section 8, clause 8 of the United States Constitution states: The Congress shall have power…to promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries.