It has come to my attention that earlier today in his e-mail newsletter Hal Wegner has once again attempted to take a cheap shot at yours truly. Yes, I know that truth and accuracy are not the hallmarks of Hal’s newsletter, and normally I do look the other way when I learn of cheap shots by Hal, which are a dime a dozen. When Hal challenges my business and makes blatantly inaccurate statements I do find it necessary to respond.
In his newsletter Hal takes issue with my Invent + Patent System™, which is an innovative approach to the patent process on which I have my own patent pending. See U.S. Patent Application No. 20090307004. Hal writes: “[IPWatchdog.com] touts a do-it-yourself drafting system that promises a pro se inventor one (1) hour preparation time for a complete provisional application…” Again, I do realize that Hal Wegner is not known for his investigative accuracy, and he seems to not let facts get in the way of telling the story he wants to tell. Notwithstanding Hal’s need to cut down everyone and everything, whether deserved or not, I would expect that even Hal would be able to appreciate that what he wrote is inaccurate and unfair. In fact, the inaccuracies and lack of due diligence suggest that Hal’s comments may rise to the level of intentional malfeasance.
First, I have no record that Hal has ever purchased the Invent + Patent System™, so anything he has to say about a system to that he has never seen has to be take with a grain of salt. Indeed, the Invent + Patent System™ an extraordinary tool and those who have seen the output are amazed at just how comprehensive it is. Rather than a 1 paragraph description of an invention the 10 questions typically produce a disclosure that is 3 pages single spaced, sometimes longer. But Hal wouldn’t know because he didn’t access the System and because it didn’t fit into the story he wanted to tell.
Second, Hal is not telling the truth with respect to what I claim the Invent + Patent System™ can do. More specifically, this is what I claim about what an inventor can do in 60 minutes:
The Invent + Patent System™ consists of 10 questions, and it is anticipated that for most inventions an inventor using the system for the first time will be able to thoughtfully and completely answer these 10 questions within about 60 minutes. You will be guided through answering these questions with detailed explanation regarding the type of information the question is intending to collect. Also provided are suggested answer templates you can choose depending upon the subject matter of your invention. Each question also provides examples of suitable answers from a variety of technologies to give you an idea about the scope and depth of an appropriate answer. All example answer are taken from issued patents, but because the quality of issued patents is not always what one would hope for, these example answers have been modified and enhanced in to better provide an illustrative response to the question presented.
Third, although not particularly clear by the nebulous and cryptic manner in which Hal writes, it seems that he takes issue most specifically with the fact that an attorney is not involved and inventors simply cannot do an adequate job. He even has the audacity to compare me with non-attorney services. It wouldn’t even be necessary for Hal to have accessed the System to know that those who use the System can obtain attorney review services from me to review their work and help them make sure the filing is as complete and detailed as required. All Hal had to do was read the entire page that explains the Invent + Patent System™, where I say: “I also offer additional review services as well. Once you complete your draft I can review it and let you know what, if anything, you are doing incorrectly and what, if anything, you should add to make the application complete.” Of course, this was not reported by Hal.
Furthermore, Hal misses, either intentionally or through a lack of due diligence, that upon completion of the 10 questions the inventor is sent the answers to the questions along with a patent template, step-by-step filing instructions and detailed explanation about fully and adequately describing an invention in a patent application and how to go about doing that. Returning to the patent template, it explains where to insert the answers to the questions. The template also provides additional guidance on what the inventor should do in terms of discussing the drawings that will be included with the filing, along with examples that show both good and bad. To my knowledge no where do I ever say that it will take 60 minutes for an inventor to file a patent application.
What else do I claim about the Invent + Patent System™? Essentially, the Invent + Patent System™ is capable of three separate, yet related, endeavors. First, the System is useful for an inventor to use to collect their thoughts and begin to pull their ideas together. Second, the System can be used to create a provisional invention patent application that can be filed by the inventor at the United States Patent Office. Third, the System can be used by those who want to collect all the information necessary to turn over to a patent attorney who will then be in a much better position to actually begin drafting a nonprovisional patent application.
Of course, Hal ignores the first and the third suggested uses of the System, instead focusing in on the second use of the System. This seems to be an intentional oversight on Hal’s part because his narrative takes issue with the completeness of provisional patent applications and the fact that inventors are told that they can file a provisional patent application on their own. If Hal had been honest and wanted to tell the whole story I wouldn’t have a problem. But focusing on one rationale for the System and leaving out the other two is really beneath even Hal, particularly when the first and the third rationales for using the Invent + Patent System™ have nothing to do with filing a provisional patent application. For crying out loud, the third rationale clearly and directly involves taking the results to an attorney!
In fact, repeatedly throughout the pages of IPWatchdog.com I explain over and over again that inventors should hire a patent attorney to prepare and file patent applications, even provisional patent applications, if at all possible. I explain that the only reason an inventor should attempt to prepare and file a patent application on their own is if there is no other way because the funds are not available to hire an attorney. For example, take a look at what I have said repeatedly about inventors representing themselves, none of which Hal reported.
- “I am frequently asked if it is a good idea for inventors to file their own patent applications, and every time I am asked that question I suspect the person doing the asking already knows the answer, but is hoping that they might find someone who will tell them what they want to hear. You have probably seen the commercial where the guy is sitting at his kitchen table and is on the phone with the surgeon who is telling him where to cut to take out his appendix while using a butter knife. The guy asks: “shouldn’t you be doing this?” Well, writing your own patent application is a little like taking out your own appendix. You won’t die if you screw it up, which is almost inevitable, but you will not likely be pleased with the outcome.” Drafting Patent Applications: Writing Patent Claims
- “It almost seems that some rules have been created for the purpose of tripping up users of the system. That being the case, should inventors be going solo and trying to protect their own inventions? No. That would be similar to trying to remove your own appendix. If you can at all get to a hospital you really should not be removing your own appendix, but if you are lost in the woods and you are facing certain death if you don’t act, then act. Similarly, if you have any options you should be pursuing those options and not blissfully filing and prosecuting your own patent application.” Inventor Pitfalls: What is the Patentable Feature?
- “[I]nventors shouldn’t be rushing out to write their own patent applications and represent themselves pro se. In fact, representing yourself in a patent application is the patent equivalent of taking out your own appendix — a REALLY bad idea. Having said that, many inventors are faced with the situation where they simply cannot afford to hire anyone to assist them. It is either go it alone or do nothing at all. In that situation the inventor is faced with a terrible dilemma. If the inventor goes into the situation understanding they are not going to get the breadth, depth and scope of rights they otherwise could get, and that is acceptable, then they have made a knowing business decision. The Libertarian in me believes that we shouldn’t say don’t do it, but the Patent Attorney in me knows that we need to be realistic about the chances of success and provide that information in a realistic way without sugar coating the reality.” PTO Inventors Conference: Patent Claim Drafting for Inventors
Now take a look at what I have written about provisional patent applications needing to be as complete as any nonprovisional patent application in order to provide a meaningful priority date, again which was not mentioned by Hal.
- “Whether that provisional patent application can ever be useful moving forward is unknown and unknowable at the time it is filed, which allows for those who knowingly or unknowingly peddle bad services or bad advice to largely hide behind the unknown. In fact, you won’t know whether the provisional patent application was worthwhile in terms of disclosure until you later need to rely on the disclosure to establish your priority filing date. If your disclosure was not complete you have nothing useful, and potentially may have compromised all right to obtain a patent.” Good, Bad & Ugly: Truth About Provisional Patent Applications
- “35 USC 119 relates to the ability to file an application and have it regarded (essentially) as having been filed earlier in time. Specifically, Section 119(e) explains that a nonprovisional patent application that claims the benefit from an earlier filed provisional application is treated as though it were filed on the date of the provisional application. So what is the catch? The catch is that the provisional patent application must have fully and completely described the fully glory of the invention at the time it was filed. It has always been true that the provisional patent application needs to fully and completely describe the invention, and it has always been true that most inventors who file a provisional patent application fail to satisfy this requirement. If you don’t satisfy the full disclosure requirement then the provisional patent application isn’t worth anything, which is one of the main criticisms of provisional patent applications in the first place.” PTO to Effectively Extend Provisional Applications to 24 Months
- “It is essential to know that the benefit a provisional provides is only with respect to that which is described in the application. A carelessly prepared provisional is a complete waste of time and money. Yes, you can legally say you have a patent pending even with a careless or incomplete provisional patent application, but no benefit will be achieved if and when you ultimately file a non-provisional patent application.” No such thing as a Provisional Patent
- “In order for any patent application to be complete the invention must be described with great particularity. Many times an inventor will generally describe the invention in a patent application but will not describe the invention with the level of detail required by the patentability requirements. There needs to be time spent describing the structure of the components that make up the invention, as well as the mechanical and electrical connections necessary for the components of the invention to fit together and ultimately perform the specified function.” Describing Your Invention Completely in a Patent Application
I could go on and on with more examples, but these examples should suffice to address Hal’s sloppy and inaccurate reporting.
In closing I will just point out that I use the Invent + Patent System™ with all of my clients. Even when someone comes to me and wants me to represent them I have them complete these 10 questions, which forms the basis of understanding their invention. Upon reviewing the answers to these 10 questions I then know whether I have enough to begin the work that needs to be performed, whether a patent search or the drafting of a patent application. When an inventor takes these questions seriously I almost always have enough information to begin, or at the least can now ask specific, pin-point questions to learn the detail that is missing.
I am always happy to answer questions about the Invent + Patent System™. It is a remarkable tool for inventors to use, and it is a remarkable tool for attorneys to use with their own inventor clients. So if anyone has any questions or would like to consider adopting the Invent + Patent System™ in their own practice please send me a message and we can take it from there.