State of Innovation

Patents and Innovation Economics

Rights Obtained With a Patent

Note that this post is based on free audio CD, titled How to Make Your Patents a WMD- Weapon of Market Domination.  If you want a free copy of the audio CD click here

In order to understand how these companies (see the article The Value of Patents: Case Studies) were able to create patents that were Weapons of Market Domination, you need to understand the legal rights you obtain with a patent.  Under United States law, a patent gives you a right to exclude other from the manufacturing, importing, selling, or using your invention.  Two key points in the previous sentence are the right to exclude.  A patent does not give the right to do any of these things.  The second key point is your patent right is limited to the United States.  If you want patent protection in foreign countries, you will need to file for a patent in those countries.  There are a number of strategies for an effective foreign filing.  However this subject is beyond the scope of this program.  At the Law Office of Dale D. Halling we handle these issues all the time.  You can check out our website or call us for more information.  It is very important that you understand the patent right is the right to exclude.  This points out clearly that a patent is a limited term property right and not a monopoly.  It is possible to obtain a patent on your invention and still not be able to practice the invention without infringing on another patent.  My favorite example of this is you invent the first laser.  The first laser is a ruby rod laser that has a ruby rod as the lasing medium, a flash lamp as the optical pump and a pair of mirrors that form an optical resonant cavity.  I invent the CO2 laser.  It has a gas as the lasing medium, an electric field formed by a large capacitor as the pump, and a pair of mirrors as the optical resonant cavity.  Nothing in your patent on the ruby rod laser tells me how to build a CO2 laser.  As a result, I can obtain a patent on the CO2 laser.  Let’s assume you have a good patent attorney and he writes very broad claims for your ruby rod laser.  The claim might be a lasing medium, a pump and an optical resonant cavity.  If I try to build or sell CO2 lasers, then I will infringe your patent since I have a lasing medium – the CO2, I have a pump – the electric field, and I have an optical resonator.  An interesting twist on this example is to assume the market for lasers is mainly in CO2 lasers.  Then neither of us can make the laser demanded by the market without cross licensing.  Note that this sort of thing happens all the time in the semiconductor industry.  This example further points out that you need to use patents to build a fence around your invention even if you have a very broad fundamental patent.  This is the strategy that allowed Xerox to dominate the photocopier and allowed Polaroid to dominate the instant photography market.  Wouldn’t you like to have a patent strategy that allowed you to dominate your market?  My laser example points out that you need to specify to your patent attorney, whether you want a patentability opinion or a clearance opinion.  A clearance opinion gives you an opinion on whether you are likely to infringe a patent if you produce an item.  A clearance opinion works like a passport.  It allows you to travel between countries.  A clearance opinion may be more important than a patentability opinion to a manufacturer.  A patentability opinion tells you whether your invention is likely to obtain a patent.  A patentability opinion is like a geological survey that states that you can build your house on this lot.  We do not have the time to cover the details of clearance and patentability opinions now.  At the Law office Dale Halling we handle these issues every day.  Call us for more information.

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June 2, 2009 - Posted by | -How to, -Law, Patents | ,

1 Comment »

  1. […] that you have an idea of what rights a patent (see Rights Obtained with a Patent) will provide you, I will discuss the major economic reason for obtaining a patent.  You should […]

    Pingback by Reasons for Obtaining a Patent « State of Innovation | June 3, 2009 | Reply


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