Posts in Inventors Information

Patent Lessons from Monopoly® and the First Millionaire Game Inventor

As a result of his invention Darrow became the first millionaire game inventor, thanks to royalty payments. The irony, however, is that Darrow may not have invented the game at all, but rather he may have taken a locally popular game and made only a few changes. By the time Parker Brothers realized that Darrow may not have been the true inventor the game was already a huge success. In order to protect the game and its investment the decision was made to buy up all patents and copyrights on any related game, thereby ensuring the monopoly on Monopoly®.

Things I Learned: An Inventor’s Journey from Idea to Market

It generally takes a lot longer and costs a lot more to get an idea licensed. New ideas are hard to sell. The capable companies are not interested because they are generating their own ideas. The not-so-capable companies might be interested but would probably drop the ball. Most workers at these companies just want to make it through the day. An unfinished product looks more like work than an opportunity. It is also risky. Employees are not compensated for risks but are punished for failure.

Kappos Round-Table Listening Continues on Campus of USPTO

There were probably about 40 people in the room, and the event was broadcast live over the Internet. Kappos took a number of questions and seemed very engaged. It is a breath of fresh air for the USPTO to be listening to the inventor community in a substantive way like this. But it goes beyond just listening. The USPTO proposal with respect to essentially extending the life of a provisional patent application to 24 months, which was announced officially last week, was the result of a suggestion Kappos received at a round-table event in California. So not only is the USPTO listening, they are taking what the hear into consideration. What a novel, yet profound concept.

Software Patents and Murphy’s Law: Uncertainty is Where Patentability Resides

When embarking on a software development project it is critical to understand that in order to maximize the chance of obtaining a patent you need to approach the task with an engineering mind set, as well as a healthy familiarity with Murphy’s Law. Anything that can go wrong will go wrong, and once you release the process to end users a human element will complicate what should otherwise be a predictable, linear, machine driven response. Embrace the uncertainty and challenges because the fact that software rarely, if ever, works like it should is what makes a working process patentable.

Reform Doing Away with Interference Proceedings & First to Invent

One of the proposals in the pending patent reform legislation is a change from first to invent to a first to file system. The trouble is that an interference proceeding, the proceeding that would take place to determine who is entitled to receive the patent between the alleged first to invent and the first to file, costs about $600,000. Not many independent inventors or small businesses are going to be able to foot that bill for sure. Nevertheless, I thought it might be good to take a look at this thing called an interference proceeding, which if patent reform is successful would become a relic of US patent law.

Patent Searches: A Great Opportunity to Focus on What is Unique

The last thing you want to do is spend a lot of money preparing and filing an application when there is easy to find prior art that will prevent a patent, or at the very least make any patent that is obtained extremely narrow. Careful review of the patent search report, any opinion or assessment provided by a patent attorney and thoughtful consideration of the patents that are found is critical. Unfortunately, a lot of inventors only give a cursory review of the patents found, thereby missing a great.

UIA Letter to Congress on Patent Reform, Kappos & First to Invent

The UIA sent a letter to Senator Leahy and Congressman John Conyers. The UIA hopes what is most newsworthy about the letter is their appreciation of Kappos’ outreach to the independent inventor community. First to file may dominate the news though. Did you know that the mean cost of an interference through the completion of the preliminary motions phase is a whopping $417,130. The mean total cost of the entire interference is $656,306. What independent inventors can afford that?

Analyzing Patent Reform Chances and First to File Provisions

Patent reform could be of sufficiently low political importance that Democrats and Republicans can get something done. If health care dies the Democrats will need to pass something desperately, perhaps many things, to show they actually accomplished something. Therefore, if health care dies I predict patent reform passes. If health care passes I predict patent reform will die, as the Congress and government slip into heightened posturing in advance of the 2010 elections.

Debunking the Myth that Patents Create a Monopoly

Many inventors operate under the misunderstanding that getting a patent is like owning Boardwalk and Park Place in the popular board game “Monopoly.” Unfortunately, turning a patent grant into cash is much more complicated than simply placing hotels on Boardwalk and Park Place. Those who are against patents always seem to argue that a patent is a monopoly, or at least use those terms interchangeably. Don’t be fooled into thinking that a patent is a monopoly. Simply obtaining a patent will not result in the the arrival a money truck to your doorstep.

Patent Law Fun & Lessons: What Dilbert Teaches About Inventing

As you can see from the first cartoon in the series, the creator of a project has left the company and his unfinished project is being passed on to the hapless Dilbert. Scott Adams, through Dilbert, teaches us not only that no one should ever trust Dilbert, but also about the importance of documenting your invention. I then take this opportunity to also opinion about the impending first to invent changes to US patent laws. What fun!

Inc.com’s Bad Advice on Finding a Good Patent Lawyer

Last week Inc.com published an article titled How to Find a Good Patent Lawyer. Unfortunately, if you follow this advice you are likely to do exactly the opposite. If you can believe it, Inc.com suggests that you not ask business associates or others for reliable recommendations, which goes completely against the well established best practices in the industry. The article also suggests that if you have an Internet business you might want to find a patent attorney who also specializes in First Amendment law, almost as if those types of lawyers readily exist, which they don’t.

Kappos Trying to Sell Patent Reform to Independent Inventors

Director Kappos is making his case for patent reform by making 4 key points. First, patent reform would lower patent office fees for independent inventors and presumably small businesses by establishing a new class — micro entities. Second, the fee setting authority in the patent reform legislation will allow for the USPTO to generate more revenue, thereby improving IT systems and hiring more patent examiners, while not costing micro entities more in the way of fees. Third, post grant review of patents will be condensed into a 12 month period and the threshold for initiating review will be raised, which should result in at settling effect not unlike the quieting of title in the real property scenario. Finally, the US will not become a pure first to file system, but rather into a first inventor to file system, which will have little or no effect on independent inventors and small businesses.

Companies Don’t Accept Confidential Submission of Ideas or Inventions

As you review the statements below, all of which were publicly available on the Internet when I found them, I think what you will find is that those companies you would most like to review your ideas and inventions are the companies that are not going to do so on a confidential basis. Many companies require an issued patent, or at least a pending patent application. Over and over again they recommend that you at least file a patent application prior to submitting in order to preserve your rights, and recommend that you contact a patent attorney.

Invention Promoters and the American Inventors Protection Act

Invention promotion firms, sometimes referred to as invention promotion companies, have been widely criticized in numerous circles, including political circles in Washington, DC, for many years.  The American Inventors Protection Act (AIPA) was enacted into law in 1999 and by its very name sought to address head on the problems faced by so many inventors.  In truth, the title of…

Q & A: File a Patent Application Before Market Evaluation?

Below is a question that we received recently, which is one that many folks likely have. Thus, I thought it might make a good article, particularly given that there is no “right” answer. Question (in edited form): Should I file a patent application and obtain a patent before I submit my invention to a company like Lambert & Lambert for…