It’s pretty clear that there are problems with the way things are patented these days, and while everyone’s jumping up and down complaining, there’s precious little in terms of suggesting how it should be changed.
As this is a little blog with a handful of followers and no-one’s ever going to read this, I shall feel free to make myself feel better by suggesting the following:
The idea behind patents is not to give an individual monopoly over an idea – it’s to protect the investment that an individual has made to develop that idea.
We should have 2 separate types of patents:
- Pending: The idea is being developed. This patent will “reserve” as it were a concept that is being developed. An application for this patent must be accompanied by, at the very least, a development plan to demonstrate an intention to develop the idea. This patent must be renewed annually and be accompanied by progress reports sufficient to demonstrate continuing development. An innovator will be protected by the patent office disallowing another to Patent-Pending the same concept.
- Patent: This must be accompanied by finished product that is either newly created, or the end of a development process covered by Patent-Pending. If a product is presented for a concept protected by a Patent-Pending for another individual, the Patent will be denied. This application must be accompanied by evidence of the cost incurred to develop the prototype as well as the intended fee to license the concept. A license fee disproportionally high compared to the cost to develop will be rejected. IT WILL BE ILLEGAL TO REFUSE TO LICENSE THE CONCEPT MORE THAN 12 MONTHS AFTER THE PATENT HAS BEEN GRANTED. The intention is that now you have your product – if you can’t make it pay for itself in the first year, your investment can still be recouped through license fees.
- Patent Transfer: A patent can be bought or transferred only after its first commercial year and the purchaser will be required to continue to license the patent.
- Patent Violation: As a license fee for the patent has been prearranged, a patent holder can easily sue another commercial entity for patent violation – but only up to the value of the licenses that should have been purchased by that entity to use the patented concept.
In this way – a patent can guarantee exclusivity through the first commercial year, but allows the idea freedom to be built on and improved beyond.
A concept will not be able to be held exclusively except while it is being actively developed or in its first commercial year.
Protection for the innovation can be maintained, but not to ridiculous lengths
Companies cannot simply buy patents for the sake of using them to sue other companies
Of course, these are only initial thoughts – I will probably hone these concepts before finally conscripting them forever to Internet obscurity.
Feel free to discuss.