Posts Tagged: "Mark Twain"

Happy Birthday Patent System: Hope Springs Eternal

In 1790, the U.S. patent laws were first enacted and individuals could obtain a patent under the new federal government. For about a century beforehand, British citizens in the various parts of the American colonies could obtain patents for that region, and Britain and other European countries had patent laws as well. But the new American patent system was different: it was democratized in that anyone could participate, without the need for consent from the Crown. The origins of patent laws date back to the Fifteenth Century when Florentine regents sought to attract and keep innovators and their inventions. Elizabeth I was a keen ruler in passing various patent laws to encourage foreigners with ideas and inventions to relocate to Britain, as well as encourage domestic innovation.

Mark Twain: Celebrated American novelist, inventor and champion of a strong patent system

One of Twain’s more strongly held beliefs was that the people of the United States had a unique drive and propensity for innovation, which made this nation a special one… In addition to all the accolades that can be bestowed upon Mark Twain, he was also an inventor himself. As the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office itself has reported, Mark Twain’s real-life alias Samuel Clemens was named as an inventor on three U.S. patents granted to the author during the 19th century. This Monday, December 19th, marks the 145th anniversary of the issue of the first U.S. patent granted to Clemens. U.S. Patent No. 121992, titled Improvement in Adjustable and Detachable Straps for Garments, was issued in 1871 and protected an elastic strap for vests, pantaloons and other clothes.

Sideways and Backwards: A Broken Patent Process

When reading patents it is not at all unusual for a patent to be issued a number of years after the original patent application was filed, but it isn’t every day that you see a patent issue more than 12 years after it was originally filed. Yet, that was exactly what happened with respect to the ‘327 patent application to HP. Worse yet, after HP successfully prevailed on claims in an appeal to the Board the case goes back to an examiner who for the first time raises a rejection never before made, while still continuing to make additional obviousness rejections. In short, this reads like the story of an application that examiners never wanted to issue in the first place… What if this applicant were a small business or individual? Had this applicant not been HP and instead a small company, would any patent be obtained despite the fact that the Board twice reviewed the claims and twice disagreed with the patent examiner? Of course not. Had this application been filed by an individual or entity with few resources the application would have been abandoned. Buried by a patent process that couldn’t care enough to administer justice in any kind of a timely fashion. That is rather pathetic. Getting a patent issued should not have taken 12 years, and resolving the application should not have taken more than 5 years after the first appeal was successful!

Mark Cuban is an Idiot, Patents Do NOT Impede Innovation

Those that do the complaining erroneously state that they speak on behalf of the entire industry. But I know they don’t speak for IBM, or Qualcomm or Tessera or the many other innovative companies that exist in the high-tech sector. They certainly don’t speak for the pharmaceutical industry that absolutely needs strong patents to survive, and they don’t talk for the biotechnology industry where start-ups and even large companies largely have little in the way of asset value outside their patent portfolios. And they absolutely don’t speak for the independent inventor who needs a patent system to protect their innovations from being ripped off by… well by those same Silicon Valley elite who so hate the patent system.