By far, most inventions are improvements upon other known devices or solutions. In fact, whenever I teach patent law courses I tell students that in their career as a patent attorney they are unlikely to ever come across a pioneering invention (i.e., first of its kind, revolutionary invention). Even the great Thomas Edison, the most prolific inventor in US history, rarely came up with pioneering inventions. What Edison really had a knack for was taking something that someone else had come up with and making it extraordinarily better. So the first lesson here is that inventors can and most frequently are those who improve upon the work of others. The second lesson is that those inventors who focus on improvements can be quite successful indeed!
There are always trade-offs in design work. Design features often conflict. For example, a big heavy vehicle is usually safer but the gas mileage is lower. But one of the things I have learned in my years as a product developer is that decisions have consequences. The biggest consequence of making a decision in product development is that the field of all subsequent decisions is contracted. That is, you reduce your list of options. It seems that ideas condense from a gas to a solid. They start out in a nebulous intangible form and condense into a solid physical entity. So bottom line, postpone any decisions on how to do things, initially. Brainstorming is the first order of business.
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.
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.
There is absolutely no reason why we cannot change from a first to invent system to a first inventor to file system that would still retain a real and substantial grace period and still retain the right for patent applicants to swear behind references to demonstrate an earlier date of invention, at least with respect to pieces of prior art that are not the progeny of earlier filed patent applications. So the currently proposed revisions to 102 need to be amended prior to passage of S. 515. It should define the term “disclosure,” do away with “otherwise available” under proposed 102(a) and retain the grace period relative to third party actions.
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.
In Ancient China, the appropriate time, the right place and the union of people are three key factors in rule of the world and in a war. Today, the three factors, time, place and people also play key roles to success. This article will give you an overall perspective on how to choose a supplier in China in respect of…
An updated version of this article is available at: http://ipwatchdog.com/2013/08/17/patent-drafting-what-is-the-patentable-feature/id=44713/
In honor of National Inventors Month in August, Inventors Digest magazine and partners are sponsoring the 2059 Essay Contest for middle school and high school students. IPWatchdog.com is proud to be one of the sponsors for this exciting essay contest, which asks those in ages 12 to 17 to write a 500 word (or less) essay on a technology, tool,…
As some of you may know, I am a professional member of the United Inventors Association and I am also a recent new addition to the Board of Directors of the UIA. Individual inventors can find a wealth of information on the UIA website, and can also find reliable assistance from the various professional members, all of who have been…
The key to making money with innovation is to be able to solve a problem that will lead to a product or service that others will be willing to pay for. As Thomas Edison famously learned early in his career, inventing for the sake of inventing is not something that will lead to riches. After one of Edison’s first inventions was a flop he vowed to never again invent anything without first researching and determining that there would be a demand for the invention or innovation.