Patents originally came about to help creative people protect their ideas. It was a tool the government created to encourage people to experiment and come up with products that improved society, production, small businesses, and people’s lives. The people who made laws for the country realized that registering the product kept the credit for designing it and the resulting profit with the inventor where it belonged. Somewhere along the way it got mixed up and it is now more of a symbol of money and power for big business as companies’ gobble up patents every day. The worst thing about that is now it seems that patents hurt the very people they were intended to help.
Recently in the news we have seen companies like Microsoft buy one billion dollars’ worth of patents from AOL, Microsoft in consortium with some other companies buy $4.5 billion dollars’ worth of patents from struggling Nortel, and Google’s Motorola purchase incentive was thought to be patent related. It is like patents have become a commodity for big business and when that happens, small companies, individuals and consumers are the ones that ultimately pay the price because it discourages creativity and drives up prices.
A big part of the problem is that there has been an alarming trend to over patent; the trend now days is not just to patent products, but individual functions for each product. Apple just won a huge court case against Samsung because they claimed Samsung had copied many features of Apple’s IPad, not computer processors and other core electronics, little things such as how their screen functions were laid out and how the screen functions were done with pinching and finger movements. These minute details resulted in a one billion dollar judgment against Samsung and forced their tablet product to be pulled of the shelf in the USA. If this can happen to Samsung, what chance does a small business or individual have against a large corporation like Apple?
So if you are a small business or individual and wish to patent a product that you created, it is more important than ever to do it with competent legal counsel on your side. It is a matter of survival in the patent environment that today’s big business has created. All your documents and patent descriptions must be properly worded then recorded. The need to have a good intellectual property legal team to guide you through this process every step of the way to make sure it is done properly and get you the credit and reward you deserve has never been more imperative.