It’s More Important Than Ever To Use Protection

By Jeanne Albrecht
June 15, 2011

You hear a lot these days about the need to protect Intellectual Property and capture innovation, but you don’t hear much about the traditional expense involved. There’s a reason for that: given the constantly evolving, “wild west” nature of today’s technical frontier, it is often prohibitively expensive for the little guy to cover all the bases and keep up with all the changes. Small businesses have had few options for affordable, comprehensive preparedness on the IP front, and in the wake of the recession, you’re likely to hear a lot more about the need to cut legal spending than you are about performing more audits and hiring more lawyers.

Companies are beginning to tackle this paradox by practicing the word on the lips of everyone from David Kappos (Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO) to Robert L. Stoll (Commissioner for Patents, USPTO), to business leaders, to even President Obama – innovation.  But what good is innovation in and of itself?  The innovation our leaders want demands adequate protections in place to turn those promising innovations into business assets.


In fact, back on August 5, 2009, President Barack Obama explained:

History should be our guide. The United States led the world’s economies in the 20th century because we led the world in innovation. Today, the competition is keener; the challenge is tougher; and that is why innovation is more important than ever. It is the key to good, new jobs for the 21st century. That’s how we will ensure a high quality of life for this generation and future generations. With these investments, we’re planting the seeds of progress for our country, and good-paying, private-sector jobs for the American people.

Then again in his 2011 State of the Union Speech, President Obama actually discussed the importance of patents. In fact, nearly 20% of his speech was devoted to technology, innovation and inventors, saying at one point: “The first step in winning the future is encouraging American innovation.” President Obama went on to say: “[F]or all the naysayers predicting our decline, America still has the largest, most prosperous economy in the world. No workers are more productive than ours. No country has more successful companies, or grants more patents to inventors and entrepreneurs.” (emphasis added).

Stoll, while testifying before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Government Management, Organization, and Procurement in December of 2009, proclaimed that the prosperity of the United States long term rests upon innovation and American ingenuity. Stoll testified:

Innovation and creativity are vital to this nation’s prosperity and job growth. Our inventors and artists need well-tailored, robust protection of their creations on a worldwide basis – not only so they can enjoy the fruits of their labors but, just as important, so their creations can fuel the enterprises that generate good-paying jobs and continue to enhance productivity. In the global economy, innovation and creativity are our clear competitive advantages.

Indeed, more then 80 percent of most companies net value consists of intangible assets such as intellectual property. There is an increasing need to protect these assets in order to mitigate risk and avoid litigation. Even the most powerful companies in the world have a need for protection of their IP portfolios. In order to help defend themselves against patent litigation, Google put in a bid of $900 million for the patent portfolio of Nortel Networks which includes over 6,000 patents.

Kent Walker, a senior vice president and general counsel at Google, has also explained that, “One of a company’s best defenses against this kind of litigation is (ironically) to have a formidable patent portfolio, as this helps to maintain your freedom to develop new products and services.” And while discussing the America Invents Act, David Kappos has said, “In the past 50 years we have seen more technological advancements than at any point in history but with no comprehensive patent reform to keep up with the times. In this century, we can’t expect tomorrow’s economy to take root using yesterday’s infrastructure. In order to bring ideas to market—in order to get ideas to capture funding—we must adopt a system that is more efficient for all who use it.”

Developing new products and services is exactly what this country needs in order to remain competitive in a global economy. America must continue to invest time and effort into the infrastructure of developing innovation. Currently the government is working on the America Invents Act which aims to give empower small businesses and independent inventors in order to distribute their ideas at a quicker rate. The Act would significantly reduce fees for so-called micro-entities, and would allow the Patent Office to keep the fees it collects to reinvest in the Office rather than turning hundreds of millions of dollars over to the United States Treasury general fund. Simply said, a more efficient and quicker patent process benefits innovators, which is undoubtedly why the Obama Administration has been behind patent reform efforts and in particular efforts to get the Patent Office adequately funded.

In this competitive global economy, it will be the jobs and industries that do not exist yet that will be the key to a prosperous economy, and it will be the countries that foster the development of these industries that will benefit most in the long run. But as critical as a solid regulatory and legal environment is, it will be up to forward thinking individuals, small businesses and corporations to exploit their intellectual property assets to the fullest to compete competitively in the global marketplace.

The Author

Jeanne Albrecht

Jeanne Albrecht

Warning & Disclaimer: The pages, articles and comments on 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 as of the time of publication and should not be attributed to the author’s employer, clients or the sponsors of Read more.

Discuss this

There are currently 4 Comments comments.

  1. justcause June 16, 2011 1:28 pm

    Even the leading patent expert in China has stated the bill will help them steal our inventions. Who are these supporters of the bill working for??

    The bill is improperly named. It should be titled the “America Kills Inventors Act”.

    Just because they call it “reform” doesn’t mean it is. Patent reform is a fraud on America. This bill will not do what they claim it will. What it will do is help large multinational corporations maintain their monopolies by robbing and killing their small entity and startup competitors (so it will do exactly what the large multinationals paid for) and with them the jobs they would have created. According to recent studies by the Kauffman Foundation and economists at the U.S. Census Bureau, “startups aren’t everything when it comes to job growth. They’re the only thing.” This bill is a wholesale slaughter of US jobs. Those wishing to help in the fight to defeat this bill should contact us as below.

    Small entities and inventors have been given far too little voice on this bill when one considers that they rely far more heavily on the patent system than do large firms who can control their markets by their size alone. The smaller the firm, the more they rely on patents -especially startups and individual inventors. Yet small entities create the lion’s share of new jobs.

  2. Gene Quinn June 16, 2011 1:53 pm


    Wasn’t the Chinese statement relating to the version of the bill that included the damages provisions? I believe it was. Without those terrible damages provisions I am not sure there is anything remaining that would facilitate that stealing. Of course, the post grant review provisions could be abused.



  3. Wayne Borean June 20, 2011 8:49 am

    I have my doubts about the usefulness of this bill. The idea is useless without the delivery.

    Take Apple for example. Apple has never invented anything. If you look at every single product that Apple produces, or has ever produced, someone else produced it first. Where Apple has shown genius is in producing it better.

    IPad = Tablet PC which was invented by Microsoft ten years ago. Microsoft was never able to make it work properly, Apple turned it into an incredible money maker.

    IPhone = Smart Phone which was invented by Palm. Palm did such a good job that the company sold itself to HP to prevent having to file for bankruptcy.

    IPod = MP3 player – there were several companies building these before Apple did, most of whom are still building them. Apple owns most of the market though.

    GUI Based Computer = Xerox PARC invented the GUI based computer, Apple copied it twice, first with the Lisa which was too expensive and didn’t sell, then with the less expensive Mac which did sell. Microsoft then copied Apple, and managed to outsell Apple by selling the OS to anyone who wanted to build a cheap piece of junk.

    The point being, that the inventor has to be able to deliver a useful device. If they can’t, no one will use it. That’s what happened in the Search engine wars. There were a lot of search engines before Google. Google delivered a better user experience, and gained the most user share.