Patent Trolls -Patent Law Obsolete?When I was in high school, my Physics teacher applied for a patent for a technology he designed. It was rejected. The reason for the rejection is a patent of a technology which closely resembled his.
What is a patent?
Patent should not be confused with trademarks, brands/service marks or copyright.
A patent for an invention is the grant of a property right to the inventor, issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Generally, the term of a new patent is 20 years from the date on which the application for the patent was filed in the United States or, in special cases, from the date an earlier related application was filed, subject to the payment of maintenance fees. U.S. patent grants are effective only within the United States, U.S. territories, and U.S. possessions. Under certain circumstances, patent term extensions or adjustments may be available.
The right conferred by the patent grant is, in the language of the statute and of the grant itself, “the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling” the invention in the United States or “importing” the invention into the United States. What is granted is not the right to make, use, offer for sale, sell or import, but the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, selling or importing the invention. Once a patent is issued, the patentee must enforce the patent without aid of the USPTO.
This means that the patent holder may use or may not use the patent that he applied for BUT that does not give anybody the right to use even a part of the formula or technology that has been patented.
So companies can sue other companies that use their patented technology or design even though they have not used or are not using it. The companies that sue for infringement of patents they own but don't use are called patent trolls.
e-Bay was made to pay millions of damages to MercExchange for violating two of its patents. The US District Office did not shut down eBay on the basis that it would not harm MercExchange since it does not use its patented action operation claimed to have been infringed by e-Bay. See the news about this hot patent suit.
Is there a need to amend the Patent Law? The article further discussed that although the infringement is only a part of the product covered by the patent; the automatic injunction covers the whole product. This forces the defendant to settle to the patent holder even with atrocious amount instead of totally losing the product.
Is there a need to require patent for every component of the design/ formula or technology?
I did not understand fully well when my teacher said that his design was not entirely a replica of a product that has been patented and which was not even introduced in the market.
To some, patent is a protection, to others, it is restriction for applying an innovative product that can benefit many people.
Next discussion is copyright.
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