Devil in Disguise: The Legend of the Villainous Patent Owners

By Gene Quinn
March 24, 2015

Devil business man wants youHave you bought into the hype and hyperbole associated with the so-called “patent troll problem.” If you have then you are no different than the many others throughout the country who now believe it is self evident that patents are bad and patent owners are evil. Innovators are being portrayed as a devil in disguise doing nothing other than tormenting large corporations who are wholly incapable of defending themselves.

You have to admire how thoroughly successful the propaganda campaign to demonize innovators has been. It has been successful beyond even the wildest imagination. Sure, there are bad actors that are abusing the litigation system, making money exploiting judicial inefficiencies, but the scope of the problem has been extremely overblown. In the process innovators who require patent protection have been cast as the lead villain. Watching innovators be vilified for pursuing the American dream has been both difficult and surprising.

It is truly a shame that so many have bought into the demonization of patent owners without any critical thought. In order to believe the narrative emanating from certain Silicon Valley giants you would have to believe the existence of helpless multinational, multi-billion dollar companies on their knees and wholly incapable of defending themselves against despicable independent inventors, diabolical universities, and monstrous scientific researchers. After all, looking to find a cure for cancer, or trying to figure out how to clean up the environment, or invent the next great kitchen gadget that will be the darling of QVC by definition makes someone vile, immoral, corrupt and down right sinful! A real devil in disguise!

So do you really believe in the altruism of huge multinational corporations who find it impossible to compete against a bunch of garage inventors, university startups and researchers looking to save the planet? The story of the benevolent multinational corporation who is unable to compete because of the patent system seems even less believable than the existence of a giant apelike hominid that lives in the Northwestern United States. At least there have been sightings of Bigfoot, which is more than can be said for the helpless multinational, multi-billion dollar corporation held hostage by devilish innovators.

I don’t hold a grudge against those that are promoting the need for still further patent reform that will continue to weaken patent rights. I think in American everyone should have the ability to lobby to convince elected officials to act in a favorable way. It is, however, a shame that there is not a more even handed approach and thoughtful consideration of the issues that takes into account all sides of the issue.

Of course big corporations who have all the money will spend to get laws and regulations enacted that are favorable to them, but at what point do their complaints start to sound alike the little boy who cried wolf? Frankly, that should have happened a long time ago. Year after year the well-funded entities that want a weaker patent system keep coming back asking for more, both in the halls of Congress and in courtrooms across the country.

Doesn’t it seem strange to anyone that these corporations always explain that they need one reform or another to address the problem of “patent trolls”? Give us X so we can once and for all be rid of the patent troll plague they say. Over the past 10 years they have received practically everything they have asked for, little by little chipping away at the very foundation of the patent grant, which is supposed to be an exclusive right. Yet, year after year they keep coming back and saying that they need more. If the solutions that they so desperately need represent the silver bullet they claim then why do they still have a problem with patent trolls?

Ten years ago the industry asked the Supreme Court to prevent permanent injunctions in patent litigation even after the patent owner had established that there was ongoing infringement and the patent survived every challenge mounted by the infringer. The Supreme Court complied and that significantly tilted the balance away from patent owners and toward infringers. Without a realistic fear of a permanent injunction facing them large corporations largely started ignoring patent rights. But still the problem of the villainous patent owner continued.

In 2007, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, issued a ruling in In re Seagate Technology, which created a new standard for establishing willful infringement and enhanced damages. The Seagate standard has made it virtually impossible to demonstrate willful infringement, and virtually impossible to obtain treble damages. Many consider this a good thing since prior to this ruling willful infringement was alleged in virtually all patent litigations, with the plaintiff seeking triple damages. Regardless of your point of few there is little debate that Seagate again substantially shifted the playing field away from patent owners and toward infringers. Still the problem of the villainous patent owner continued.

When you combine Seagate with eBay you are left with a situation where even a victorious patent owner cannot get an injunction preventing infringement despite the fact that a patent is allegedly an exclusive right that gives the owner the right to prevent others from engaging in proscribed activity. Further, even if the infringement is intentional there is no feasible way to get anything other than a reasonable royalty. So why exactly would anyone choose to do anything other than infringe? Seagate and eBay make infringement more than convenient, they make infringement efficient in the business sense. Sue me and all I wind up paying you is what I would have paid you in an arms length negotiation. Of course, they know many won’t sue because they can’t afford to sue, particularly given the largely insignificant damages that are available in most situations.

Also in 2007, the United States Supreme Court issued a ruling in KSR v. Teleflex, which fundamentally changed the law of obviousness, making it harder to obtain patent protection. The Supreme Court’s decision in KSR essentially says that if you set out to accomplish something and you do accomplish what you set out to achieve then the resulting innovation is obvious. Of course, that is ridiculous because under such a standard only accidental innovation would be patentable, and even more astonishing given that the ruling as announced directly conflicts with the 1952 Patent Act and more specifically the last sentence of 35 U.S.C. 103(a), which was specifically added to the statute to overrule Supreme Court precedent that required a flash of creative genius in order for an innovation to be considered non-obvious.

Make no mistake, even though the Supreme Court’s decision in KSR has never been implemented as it was written we do have a version of the flash of creative genius test in play today. Anyone who doubts this can simply review Federal Circuit obviousness decisions from the last several years. It matters not that a patent examiner issued a patent, or that the reexamination unit multiple times reexamined a patent, or that a district court Judge has reviewed the claims and multiple juries believed the claims patentable. Obviousness is in the eye of the beholder and there are many Judges on the Federal Circuit that simply do not find patents that attractive. Still the problem with villainous patent owners continues.

In 2011, the Congress enacted the America Invents Act (AIA), which ushered in the largest changes to U.S. patent law in history. Many will point to the switch to first to file (from first to invent) as proof that innovators have taken another hit. The truth, however, is that for years the U.S. had a de facto first to file system and virtually no inventors could ever prove that they invented first when they filed second. But that doesn’t mean that innovators didn’t get the short end of the stick in the AIA, because they certainly did. It just didn’t come as the result of first to file.

Two major changes ushered in by the AIA are dramatically anti-innovator. First, little talked about is the fact that foreign filed patent applications are now, in almost all cases, prior art against U.S. applicants as of their foreign filing date. Prior to the AIA that wasn’t the case. While this is probably an esoteric patent prosecution issue, it is one that has enormous implications for virtually every patent application filed in the United States. More will qualify as prior art if your application is examined under the AIA than would be applied against it if pre-AIA law applied. That necessarily means it is harder to obtain a patent.

Second, the creation of a host of new procedures to kill issued patents through a variety of post grant proceedings has caused many to wonder when a patent ever matures into a property right any more. The Patent Trial and Appeal Board at the United States Patent and Trademark Office has wreaked havoc on patent owners, killing many claims and costing patent owners many hundreds of thousands of dollars to defend rights obtained through what must have been a horribly faulty examination process.

But still the problem of the villainous patent owner continues and defenseless multinational, multi-billion dollar corporations need yet further patent reform, which is why the House of Representatives again submitted the Innovation Act for consideration, which would shift fees, stay patent litigation and strengthen post grant review from the challengers perspective.

When you combine KSR and the AIA you have a scenario where patents are harder to obtain and much easier to challenge. And we haven’t even talked about the patent eligibility cases decided over the last 5 years at the Supreme Court and Federal Circuit which have rendered everything from board games to software to genes to medical diagnostics patent ineligible.

Do you see a pattern? At each and ever step patent rights have eroded, but still the villainous patent owner problem persists. Why have none of these radical, fundamental changes to the patent laws have worked? They were all supposed to solve the problem, but they must have all failed if the helpless multinational corporations continue to need protection. Could it be that the problem never really existed, at least on the scale we were led to believe? Could it be that the offered solutions were really a thinly veiled attempt to fundamentally change the patent system so innovative startups couldn’t compete? Inquiring minds should be asking these and many other questions.

Something tells me that even if the Innovation Act were to become the law the problem of the villainous patent owner would still continue, and those that want to dismantle the patent system would continue to cry foul. It seems pretty obvious that we are in a never ending patent reform cycle and the proponents of patent reform will not be satisfied until the patent system has been thoroughly dismantled and patent rights aren’t worth pursuing.

The Author

Gene Quinn

Gene Quinn is a Patent Attorney and Editor and founder of IPWatchdog.com. Gene is also a principal lecturer in the PLI Patent Bar Review Course and an attorney with Widerman Malek. Gene’s specialty is in the area of strategic patent consulting, patent application drafting and patent prosecution. He consults with attorneys facing peculiar procedural issues at the Patent Office, advises investors and executives on patent law changes and pending litigation matters, and works with start-up businesses throughout the United States and around the world, primarily dealing with software and computer related innovations. is admitted to practice law in New Hampshire, is a Registered Patent Attorney and is also admitted to practice before the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. CLICK HERE to send Gene a message.

Warning & Disclaimer: The pages, articles and comments on IPWatchdog.com do not constitute legal advice, nor do they create any attorney-client relationship. The articles published express the personal opinion and views of the author and should not be attributed to the author’s employer, clients or the sponsors of IPWatchdog.com. Read more.

Discuss this

There are currently 26 Comments comments.

  1. DanH March 25, 2015 9:55 am

    With all due respect, Mr. Quinn, it’s hard to take your argument seriously when you use the terms “innovators” and “patent owners” interchangeably. They’re frequently not the same of course, particularly when litigation is involved. But “innovator” sounds much more sympathetic, doesn’t it?

    Also, if you’re really trying to persuade, rather than just preach to the faithful, I suggest that you not tell the reasonable people you’re trying to reach what they “have to believe.” Your statement that “in order to believe the narrative emanating from certain Silicon Valley giants you would have to believe the existence of helpless multinational, multi-billion dollar companies on their knees and wholly incapable of defending themselves against despicable independent inventors, diabolical universities, and monstrous scientific researchers” is a little over the top, isn’t it? I for one, think certain types of patent litigation are problematic, and I got there without any belief in “despicable independent inventors, diabolical universities, and monstrous scientific researchers.”

  2. angry dude March 25, 2015 11:26 am

    “certain types of patent litigation are problematic”

    No sh1t, dude

    If they had any fairness in this system and those monstrous corps didn’t immediately steal others people’s tech, patented or not – they just don’t care, then all would be nice and rousy and we wouldn need patent litigation at all

    Hey, “Silicon Valley” Season 2 is coming on HBO

    Of course, in real life that little hapless Pied Piper would be run over by Hooli after the first episode of Season 1

  3. Gene Quinn March 25, 2015 11:40 am

    DanH-

    You can disregard what I say if you like, but it is ridiculous to take issue with my using the term innovators and patent owners in this article.

    It is indisputable that the overwhelming majority of patent owners are innovators. That is true whether you want to accept the reality or not. Even when patent owners are not the original innovator in a great many cases the original innovator is benefiting from the actions of the monetizer. For example, Acacia partners with innovators who derive benefit from their licensing and litigation enforcement efforts. So you can pretend that monetizers are not patent owners, but that paints an overly simplistic and misleading picture.

    “Innovator” does sound a lot more sympathetic, but that is what they are, so I’m not sure what you are suggesting really. Should I refer to them by a misdescriptive term? Still, there is no doubt that if the debate is properly framed it will become increasingly impossible to vilify those who are most harmed by patent reform in the Courts and Congress.

    As far as you not understanding why I characterize those wanting patent reform as helpless multinational, multi-billion dollar companies, all I can say is you must not follow this issue closely. Those companies complain all the time that they are simply unable to deal with patent owners without help that destroys the patent system. It is laughable to listen to them pretend to be helpless. They can easily help themselves, they just make ridiculous choices. As I’ve written many times, elite Silicon Valley companies settle bad cases brought on crappy patents by patent trolls and they fight good patents, where there is infringement for decades. Those are the facts.

    -Gene

  4. Mr. V March 25, 2015 3:12 pm

    All rhetoric aside, Mr. Quinn’s analysis is spot on.

    What we are seeing over the last two decades is a systematic erosion of the US Patent system, the proponents of which, are mostly large multinational corporations that have long been established through their successful acquisition of the exclusive rights provided to them via patents; all under the euphemistic guise of “Patent Reform.” The patent environment has become all but friendly to today’s innovators who now face a much broader scope of prior art, “first to file,” and claims that are more susceptible to challenge via PGR and IPR proceedings. How can there be any degree of assurance that the high investment associated with obtaining patent protection is worth it when the AIA lowers the threshold for invalidating a patent via IPR? Within the first year since the AIA went into full effect, the PTAB adjudicated 20 patents, of which only 3 survived, or, 13 out of 357 claims but who’s counting? There is also less certainty with respect to patent eligible subject matter thanks to Alice and the previous 101 cases leading up to it. “Everything under the sun” is no longer the case for today’s innovator. I happen to work within the pharmaceutical industry where patent protection, to the extent it pertains to pharmaceutical inventions, is also be eroded by a statutory scheme that not only permits but incentivizes infringement of brand name patents. The situation has only been fruther exacerbated with the advent of the BPCIA, which affords similar mechanisms to generic companies with respect to biologic based drugs.

    A strong patent system is what allowed the US to further distance itself from the rest of the world and ultimately win the innovation game. IP rights not only serve to secure for inventors and artists, protection to their respective inventions and works of art, but also provide an incentive to create them in the first place! The patent hostile narrative and further vilification of innovators that is being cultivated by proponents of patent reform is not a solution its a problem. The fact that the “patent troll” has continued to proliferate and persist into being a household term is a PROBLEM. The innovation act, is a PROBLEM, and its up to us who have been afforded the privilege to call themselves patent practitioners to fix it, or at least try to slow the bleeding.

    -Mr. V

  5. Wesley Few March 25, 2015 4:23 pm

    In support of Gene’s point that patent reformers will be reforming until there is elimination of the system or modification to their liking, I recall former Senator Fritz Hollings in the 1980’s telling me how great a job my father did in his Congressional testimony against TORT REFORM in circa 1986!

    State legislatures and Congress make policy based on sound bites like “patent troll” or “trial lawyer” and we can only hope that the elected folks and, more importantly, the committees where the bills are sponsored and more vigorously vetted, do their due diligence before passing any new laws to reform these systems.

  6. Anon March 25, 2015 7:45 pm

    With all due respect, DanH, it is not the Quinn article that I find difficult to take seriously.

    There is nothing at all “over the top” in realizing that the patent system is under attack from both the Left and the Right. In fact, I tend to not take too seriously anyone who cannot recognize the philosophical war that has been raging. If we need to stick our heads in the sand in order to “be nice” or “stay polite,” then being nice and staying polite are the things to go, and those who say “what battle?” are the ones to be wary of.

    That being said, I do hear a kernel of truth in what you are saying: the message must be heard in order for it to be thought about, and if one side wants to persuade the other side, then the message needs be both heard and thought about. On that level, an “in your face” approach is not likely to do anything but “preach to the choir” – no matter how true and on point that approach may be. The flip side, though, is that the audience that makes up “the other side” must be accessible and willing to listen in the first place. Sadly, I do not think that there is any blog out there that meets this necessary first condition. It is an exceptionally rare event where a person from one side is willing to listen to the other.

    Now to pick a particular nit with your post (if you are willing to listen), I do find it interesting that you draw a line at the “ particularly when litigation is involved” when it comes to your discussing innovators and inventors. I find this telling because the enforcement of a patent right (litigation) is often demonized, but in truth, has no bearing on the matter of the topic of “are inventors innovators?” None.

    I have to wonder then, what definitions for these terms are you using? I would hazard a guess that Gene is using the term inventor (as one having a patent) as necessarily being an innovator – at least as a starting presumption, due in part because the law so dictates that patents are presumed valid, and valid patents are a sign of innovation.

  7. Simon Elliott March 25, 2015 8:04 pm

    Gene is not the only person making similar statements. If you read PatentDocs, the top biotech/pharma patent blog, you will see the same sentiments.

  8. Candice H. Brown Elliott March 25, 2015 9:08 pm

    Would it help to hear the position of an undeniable “innovator”? Fifteen years ago, I started a company in Silicon Valley, first $50K of my own, then $300K of angel seed funds, then $4M in VC money, eventually to raise $21M. I had a vision of how to increase the information efficiency of color flat panel displays. Today, that technology, now owned by Samsung, who acquired my company in 2008, is shipping hundreds of millions of smartphones, tablets, notebook computers and televisions with these high resolution, low power, long life displays. Strong patent rights allowed me to raise that money. Strong patent rights were the reason that Samsung bought the company. We filed hundreds of patents world-wide… however, if things continue, I won’t be able to find investors for my next great invention. Innovators like me won’t bother to develop the next great thing… not if we can’t fund their development… and we can’t fund their development unless there are strong IP rights that are developed. And then where will those poor defenseless giant corporations get their next great innovation from? (Hint: true innovators aren’t found in big corp R&D labs)

  9. angry dude March 26, 2015 11:00 am

    To Candice H. Brown Elliott:

    And what would be your advice in the current environment to a high-tech startup:
    to patent or not to patent ?

    If course with stuff like you did you would be ripped off in a matter of weeks by the same Samsung – they would surgically open your monitor prototype and copy whatever they find inside – not much expensive reverse engineering involved. So for this type of tech any undercapitalized startup is doomed nowadays, whether they patent it or not.

    But there are other types of technologies, particularly those based on complex algorithms, which can be hidden either on a server side (e.g. Software as a Service) or deep inside an encrypted microcontloller/DSP or, even better, as a proprietory ASIC chip implementation

    What would be your advice to those types of startups ? Patent the internals of their software/devices or keep them as trade secrets ?

    I say trade secrets is the only reasonable choice today

    And the success of investor search depends primarily on whether you can keep your technology a trade secrets or not (and convince your investors)

    But of course trade secrets suck big time: at the very least the employment contracts for key engineers would need to become draconian (I am pretty sure this is not legally allowed in Silicon Valley so we might see a demise of the Valley pretty soon 🙂

  10. step back March 26, 2015 2:55 pm

    Hey Angry Dude @9,

    The trade secret route is a bad idea for the following reasons:
    1) Even if others cannot reverse engineer your invention, they may independently invent it, get a patent for it and … if you had not by then gotten your product on sale, they can sue YOU for infringement.
    2) If you need to raise seed money (as Candice indicated she had to do), your investors will want to see the details of your project. If you have no patents, they can rip you off (NDA not withstanding) or simply broadcast your unpatented ideas to competitors –go prove it was them
    3) No matter how it escapes from the barn, once your trade secret horse has escaped, there is no going back to do it right. It’s all gone. It’s all too late.

    **Disclaimer: This is not legal advice to anybody for any purpose whatsoever.

  11. angry dude March 26, 2015 4:26 pm

    step back:

    Do you really think that in the current environment patent route is still better than trade secret route (assuming trade secret can be maintained for at least a few years after products/services go on sale) ?
    Would you give this advice to your clients ?

    1) they may or they may not – if it’s sufficiently unobvoious I wouldn’t worry for quite some time

    2) They will not see critical technical details unless they are ready to commit their money.
    Nowadays I wouldn’t show any such details to random “potential investors” even If patent application is filed but not published – they can still rip you off patents or not.
    Good luck chasing them with your patent

    3) This is true unfortunately,
    But in my particular case quite the opposite happened: I disclosed critical technical details in my patent application and got a patent, just before the Ebay decision. Should have known better…
    Now it’s all too late for me – I gave them all details to reproduce the invention (which they did en masse) in return for a worthless piece of paper called US Patent

  12. angry dude March 27, 2015 9:28 am

    Hm..Hm..

    No advice from anyone…

    To patent, or not to patent – that is the question

    I see that you guys just don’t know what to tell to your clients

    Too bad for everyone

  13. Gene Quinn March 27, 2015 10:42 am

    angry dude-

    Is there a reason that you are making such a ridiculous statement? Does it feel good to pretend that patent attorneys don’t know what they are doing and have no answer for clients?

    Don’t file a patent application if you don’t want to, but then please don’t be surprised when you don’t get a patent, you have no chance of obtaining exclusive rights and someone else starts making money on an invention you believe you came up with first.

    There are definitely paths forward, and patent applications get filed all the time and attorneys continue to counsel clients accordingly. There are no cheap paths forward in many areas. But that is VERY different than suggesting attorneys don’t know what to tell clients. The truth is many clients don’t want to hear what attorneys are saying. Big difference.

  14. angry dude March 27, 2015 11:23 am

    Gene,

    I asked a very specific question:

    Is patent route still better than trade secret route for a high-tech startup (for those inventions where trade secret can be maintained for years after products/services go on sale) ?

    10 years ago the answer was YES (for many reasons, rasing money from investors being one of them)

    How about today ?

  15. Gene Quinn March 27, 2015 11:36 am

    angry dude-

    So you ask a question and when you don’t get an answer you jump to the conclusion that I and other attorneys don’t know what to tell clients? Did it ever cross you mind that I was out of the office all day yesterday?

    The question you ask is really an impossible one to answer without knowing a lot more facts. You say that 10 years ago the proper decision was to go for a patent, but that is not necessarily correct. It depends on the innovation, how much it would cost to get a patent, how long it would take to get a patent, the lifecycle of the product/service and how likely it is during the relevant lifecycle that it could be kept secret. Further considerations about business considerations (i.e., the need to raise money from investors) needs to be taken into consideration. So while you may think there is a binary answer the truth is that life is far more complex than a true/false question.

    -Gene

  16. angry dude March 27, 2015 11:56 am

    Gene,

    Please, don’t take it personally – I was replying to step back’s comment about trade secrets being a bad idea

    Although there is no binary answer, of course, the decision to file patent applications on key technology early on is binary – you either do it or you don’t

    cost of patenting is not an issue here – the issue is “to be or not to be” 10-20 years from now

  17. Anon March 27, 2015 12:02 pm

    Gene is absolutely correct: the proper answer is (the lawyer’s favorite):

    It depends.

    Yes, as a general point, trade secrets are more favorable in light of current legal trends.

    But that does not make the decision to patent or not a self-evident or foregone one.

    My current belief has moved to a starting point that perhaps trade secret is the avenue to take, but even before making that decision, to continue to approach the matters of protecting innovation by thinking about the patent route.

    In part, this position was generated by the evolution and passing of the America Invent’s Act, in particular, the section on Prior User Rights. That section and its sui generis new “rights” provide a new federal power to trade secrets with the provisio of you being able to prove certain time frames – proof that can easily come from adopting a patent evaluation process.

  18. Anon March 27, 2015 12:07 pm

    …and I would hasten to add that the Senate Soliloquy has also added (at this point no court case has actually decided the proper interpretation) the very real possibility that an innovation could be held as a trade secret as long as possible and STILL have patent rights pursued when it appears that the market may be coming up to speed independently.

    Being on top of the details – and of the market – makes this type of play an extremely fact dependent one.

  19. Guy Fielder March 27, 2015 12:20 pm

    In a time of universal deceit – telling the truth is a revolutionary act.
    George Orwell

    A half truth is the best form of lie.
    Ben Franklin

    A half truth is a whole lie.
    Yiddish Proverb

  20. Mr. V March 27, 2015 12:37 pm

    I agree with Anon.

    In general, I find Trade Secrets too fragile and cumbersome to maintain. However, if there can be added assurance (from business considerations or the type of technology) then keeping the invention a secret in perpetuity might be the way to go.

    Under the AIA, it may be possible to patent an invention that has since been kept a trade secret but this is still up for debate as there is not a solid consensus among practitioners regarding the PTO’s interpretation of “or otherwise available to the public” clause in the new 102. The answer is anything but binary.

  21. angry dude March 27, 2015 1:09 pm

    Mr. V,

    A real trade secret is a secret from everyone including USPTO and courts.
    They have no way to know that your patent covers your or someone else’s trade secret – not without major litigation, discovery, witness depositions, expert testimonies etc.

  22. Anon March 27, 2015 2:17 pm

    angry dude,

    I suggest that you look into the Prior User Right aspect of the America Invent’s Act.

  23. Simon J Elliott March 27, 2015 6:32 pm

    Trade Secrets are great, if you can keep them secret. Because you cannot readily use the TS as a basis for getting capital funding, TS is really only a benefit to production lines in a pre-existing company, or as an add on to a patented idea. Not so good for a disruptive start up

    Everything about the “reforms” of the patent system seem designed to reinforce the power of existing businesses, and reduce the power of innovators.

  24. angry dude March 27, 2015 7:11 pm

    Mr. Simon J Elliott:

    I am talking about the internals of the technology, e.g. that fictional super-duper lossless compression algorithm from HBO’s “Silicon Valley” show.
    You can try to patent disruptive business applications and frameworks (e.g. cloud-enabled multimedia content search) around that fundamental enabling technology all you want (good luck under the current PTO rules 🙂 but if you publicly disclose the internal algorithms to the world there is no going back to trade secrets.
    If your hypothetical “investors” are that old-fashioned and still want to see patent applications filed for everything including internal fundamental building blocks which can be kept as trade secrets, then they are sheep to be slaughtered in the current environment.
    If startup fails there will be very little residual value in patents alone
    Let’s face it: patents are worth crap nowadays
    Trade secrets at least have some value for as long as they can remain secrets

  25. Simon Elliott April 2, 2015 1:25 pm

    Angry Dude: I agree, but it depends on the technology. You can pretty quickly show that the Google search algorithm worked better than the competition without known the actual algorithm. Anything that is regulated is a different story. Not just drugs: I’ll bet that you would have to disclose the process for a new alloy if you want to use it in cars or civilian aircraft.

  26. angry dude April 3, 2015 11:21 am

    Simon:
    Anything regulated requires big $$$ upfront and therefore is out of reach for us – individual inventors and cash strapped startups
    Even something as harmless as new spread spectrum modulation technique to improve data transmission over radio channels – would require FCC approval to build a product