An appropriate title to this thread. It should be all about the POOP specifically relating to patents, the patent office, the way it operates, and of course the ways it fails us.
To start this off. I haven`t seen too many mentions about an item of importance to many of us. That would be the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the incredibly long delays that have hurt and sometimes ruined small companies efforts to protect their intellectual property. . For the record, we do have a patent under review and we have been knocked off but it`s not that big of a worry for us. We are more concerned with future products.
The time it takes to process a patent has skyrocketed up to five years in some instances! One example of the implications involves almost all software that becomes essentially obsolete by the time it filters its way through this system. It was supposed to be designed to fend off pirates and unscrupulous types but the incentive to lay off other people`s property is being lost.
For those of you unfamiliar with the process, generally speaking, little can be done to protect yourself from a knockoff until you have been given an official patent number. Your pending status will allow you retroactive restitution and compensation if you can successfully litigate an argument but there are devious and evil companies out there that will blatantly copy (or argue a workaround) a patent and sell it with full knowledge that their short term gain will net them a profit that should withstand any litigation in the very unlikely event that it should even arise more than half a decade into the future.
As long as these unreasonable review periods remain this high, there will be a serious risk to the security of pending products and in many cases renders the process absolutely worthless to the patent holders. While the USPTO has acknowledged this problem they have also admitted that it will be many years before a streamlined system will be in place and even begin to reduce the number of years a patent remains under review. Some of the most recent efforts to speed things up have the USPTO outsourcing American patents under review to engineers in other countries! I find that prospect quite frightening.
If any of you are in the business of protecting your intellectual property or believe that you will one day need to employ the services of the USPTO, I suggest that you send a letter to your US representative expressing your concern about this problem and ask what is being done to solve this problem which in the end truly affects us all.
One final note. To those of you with a patent pending. Protect your pending patent as if it were still just an idea on a napkin that you don`t want anyone to see just yet. Limit the exposure of your product to those people directly responsible for the design, manufacturing, marketing, and sales of your product. Get your product selling quickly before a similar product finds its way into the marketplace. This is truly your best defense against knockoffs. Litigation should always be considered a last resort.
JE Design Group, LLC
If all you do is what you`ve done, then all you`ll get is what you`ve got.