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is the CEO of BlueIron, a patent finance company, and author of Investing In Patents, which explains the BlueIron investment model. Russ is an angel investor, registered patent attorney, the former COO of a venture-backed startup company, and an inventor with 30+ US patents/applications.
The unadvertised feature is that the Pre-Appeal Conference board is assembled by an administrative assistant in the technology center, but the P3 board is assembled by the SPE. This is a critical difference. With the P3 program, the Office is trying to address an internally perceived problem that they believe they have with the Pre-Appeal Conference, which is the technical knowledge of the third member of the board. The third member of the Pre-Appeal Conference is the first available examiner from any technology center and with any type of technical background. This person is essentially selected at random, and often has no technical competence in the area. With the P3 program, the third person is picked by the SPE. This gives the SPE the ability to stack the deck in their favor, intentionally or not.
Patents are a big capital investment for a startup company, but so is an office building. However, no startup company owns their office building outright. Even if they did own the building, they would take a mortgage on the building to free up capital. Exclusive licenses are the same thing as a lease agreement: the startup has full control of the assets, but does not have to spend capital to build or maintain the asset.
There are many examples of patents that had virtually no value because the claims were undetectable, unenforceable, or ridiculously narrow. In the process of getting a worthless patent — a bad patent, the company gave up their complete roadmap for how to manufacture and use their product. These bad patents are not just a waste of money, but their competitive advantage is eviscerated by disclosing everything they know. The bottom line: Some patent applications can be very damaging to a startup company.
Many inventors boast that they did not understand their patent application because their attorney used “legalese.” Some even joke that it was so dense that they did not even know if their invention was in there. Make no mistake about it: a good patent is easy to read. Patents are business documents that are read and understood by real people, not attorneys. When the patent is litigated, the patent is read by a judge and jury, who are common, ordinary people. If a normal person cannot understand the patent, neither can they.