State of Innovation

Patents and Innovation Economics

Bizarre Patent Law Proposal: Guest Post

This is a Guest Post by Randy Landreneau

Hello Inventor,

What I am about to tell you is almost too bizarre to believe. The influence of vested interests and the ignorance and/or complicity of politicians will do us in as inventors if we are not vigilant.

If you have been getting these emails very long, you know how the passage of The America Invents Act was a blow to the independent inventor and to the ideal of innovation as envisioned by the Founding Fathers of this great nation (if you need information on this, let me know and I’ll send it directly). Wait till you see the following.

In the Federal Register, April 20 Notices, the following appears: “Notice of Request for Comments on the Feasibility of Placing Economically Significant Patents Under a Secrecy Order and the Need To Review Criteria Used in Determining Secrecy Orders Related to National Security” (http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2012-04-20/pdf/2012-9503.pdf).

The summary indicates that this is a request from Congress. Within the piece is the following: “The Subcommittee has raised the concern of a potential risk of loss of competitive advantage during the period of time between publication and patent grant.” Yes, when your US Patent Application gets published after 18 months and you still have a year or two before you have any patent protection, the rest of the world has an advantage over the patent holder. The logical solution is to get rid of the 18 month publication (which was given to us by The American Inventors Protection Act of 1999!). The other solution would be to reduce the time it takes to get a patent issued down to one year. But consider this bizarre proposal:

“This new procedure would institute a secrecy order that forbids applicants from disclosing subject matter deemed to be detrimental to national economic security for such period as the national interest requires.”

If that statement doesn’t make your hair stand up, read it again. This is straight out of Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand (if you haven’t read it, you should). Just to be clear, they are not talking about just not publishing the application, they are talking about whether the Patent Office “…should identify and bar from publication and issuance certain patent applications as detrimental to the nation’s economic security.” But wait, the proposal and the purported reason for the proposal are totally at odds. The alleged reason for the proposal is that a US patent holder could be disadvantaged by the fact of foreign competitors knowing about his invention before he has patent protection. So, is the solution to not grant him a patent and forbid him from doing anything with the invention? This is what the proposal would do.

Based on this information, the only logical conclusion is that the motives are different than indicated. It appears that the proposal is really a way for any politically powerful industry to stop game-changing innovation. Their argument would be that such innovation would cause economic disruption and job loss. A good example of what would be stopped is any real, workable innovation in energy technology. But, if such a proposal were to become law, there would be the potential for any politically powerful industry to use it to their advantage, and to the disadvantage of the inventor, America, and innovation in general.

Is the above proposal too bizarre to be taken seriously? I sure hope so. But, after what happened with The America Invents Act, we need to all be ready to fight to maintain our rights as inventors.

 

Randy Landreneau

Complete Product Development

http://www.CompleteProductDevelopment.com

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July 17, 2012 - Posted by | Innovation, News, Patents | ,

2 Comments »

  1. Patents and copyrights = Complete waste of time and money. Read: “Against Intellectual Monopoly” by Boldrin and Levine. See: http://levine.sscnet.ucla.edu/general/intellectual/against.htm

    Comment by Art | July 17, 2012 | Reply

  2. Art,

    Patents are property rights, they are not monopolies. According to Wikipedia “in economics, a government-granted monopoly (also called a “de jure monopoly”) is a form of coercive monopoly by which a government grants exclusive privilege to a private individual or firm to be the sole provider of a good or service; potential competitors are excluded from the market by law, regulation, or other mechanisms of government enforcement.” Alternatively, Wikipedia defines “a legal monopoly, statutory monopoly, or de jure monopoly is a monopoly that is protected by law from competition. A statutory monopoly may take the form of a government monopoly where the state owns the particular means of production or government-granted monopoly where a private interest is protected from competition such as being granted exclusive rights to offer a particular service in a specific region while agreeing to have their policies and prices regulated.” Patents are government granted (legal, statutory) so this is appropriate definition. However a patent does not provide a “private individual or firm” the exclusive right to offer a good or service. In fact patents do not even give you the right to sell your invention, let alone an exclusive right to a market. Patent are not monopolies, they are property rights.

    There are some economists that argue that all property rights provides some monopoly power. This definition of a monopoly is inconsistent with the historical definition of a monopoly and becomes a circular argument that and provides no useful insights. Economists who adhere to the point of view that property rights confer monopoly power are pushing a socialist political agenda instead of acting like a scientist trying to understand the economy.

    Comment by dbhalling | July 18, 2012 | Reply


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