17 Seconds #9

17 Seconds gives you useful info quickly.

17 Seconds

All modern patent law is a derivative of the Venetian Patent Act of 1474, which was designed to encourage “men of great genius” (and, unfortunately, they did mean men) to come to Venice.

Today if you have a product that is better, faster, and stronger than the competition’s, then you should be able to get a patent for it.

With a patent, you get to exclude others from making and using the patented thing for a period of time. Society’s quid pro quo is the knowledge of how to make and use the thing.

The model breaks when there is no thing. Enter patent trolls. A patent troll is a non practicing entity (NPE), someone who owns a patent but doesn’t make a product.

But what about universities like MIT, who produce research but not things? What about the independent inventor of the intermittent windshield wiper, whose idea was stolen? Are they patent trolls?

No, not all NPEs are patent trolls. A patent troll is like art (or perhaps the lack thereof): you know it when you see it.

Which explains one of Clocktower’s trademarks:

Lawyers For Human Beings. (Patent trolls, trademark bullies, and cybersquatters need not apply.)

17 Seconds #7

17 Seconds gives you useful info quickly.

17 Seconds

Don’t file a napkin provisional.

A “napkin provisional” is a short description of an idea, filed as a provisional patent application, with little more than a cover sheet to support it. The first patent that you file on your product is the foundation upon which your patent house is built.

Don’t build your house on sand.

Do it right. Do a search. Then figure out whether (and if so, how) to file.

Sometimes it makes sense to file a provisional patent application (instead of a utility patent application) in order to get an extra year of “patent pending” status. This is especially true for software, in light of recent court decisions and USPTO guidelines (issued 2014-12-15) for software (http://www.uspto.gov/blog/director/entry/guidance_on_subject_matter_eligibility).