Things Your Mother (and Patent Attorney) Never Told You
This is a follow-up to the previous blog, 10 Invention Marketing Untruths That Hurt Inventors.
When I get a patent, it can not be reversed.
False. Once you've been issued a patent, procedures may be taken, by a competitor perhaps, to have your entire patent disallowed. Patents have different strengths. It may be very defendable, or not worth the paper it's printed on.
Can the US Patent Office issue you a patent on your invention if it infringes another patent?
Just because you receive a patent, it doesn't guarantee that you can utilize your invention without gaining permission from another patent holder whom you may infringe. And, the patent office is under no obligation to even inform you of this.
Here's an example: Edison invents a light emitting device using electricity. Very novel, right? Shortly after this, smart you invents an improvement, a light bulb using electricity AND uses tungsten filament so that it lasts longer, and you get a patent on this improvement. That's fine, but for as long as Edison's patent is valid, you will need to license or get permission from Edison in order to use or sell your patented invention. The next brilliant light bulb inventor may have to get permission from both of you while your patents are current.
I have a patent pending, so am I protected?
You are only 'protected' from the patent examiner introducing material after the date of your application that may interfere with you getting a patent. Otherwise, you can not necessarily stop anyone from using or commercializing your invention while your patent is pending. In fact, they may keep on infringing your patent after your patent issues if you don't put the infringers on notice and take legal measures to deal with it, the costs of which you will need to bear. Otherwise, the infringers may keep on infringing your patent without retribution.
So you say, "No problem, I'll just sue the infringers". You're half right. You may sue them. But, there is a problem. The average legal cost for each side to engage in a patent lawsuit is well over a million dollars. So unless you have a spare million or two sitting around, in order for you to get a law firm interested in taking on your case on a contingency, or commission basis, you will have to show that the possible worth of your invention is well over two million dollars. Plus, the law firm will have to spend $50,000 to $100,000 cash up front to do the due diligence to figure out if they even have a good possible winnable case. Of course, if YOU pay this you will have a better chance of getting a good law firm to accept your case on contingency.
Do you still want to sue the bastards? Unless you are prepared to call the bluff of an infringer and assert your patent rights with the kind of financial resources I've just outlined, what good is a patent? Now, that's a good question.
But, I can only stomach so much reality in one blog, so you will have to wait until my next blog to learn more from 'mother':)
Disclaimer: Please know that I am not a patent attorney and I do not give legal advice. I approach these issues from a business prospective. Always use a registered attorney or agent for matters relating to patenting and the law .
Ron Docie, Sr. is President of Docie Marketing and Docie Development. He is the author of The Inventor's Bible, How to Market and License Your Brilliant Ideas, and has successfully commercialized new products and technology for himself and his inventor clients for over three decades.