Is the patent system broken? I am now an IP Strategist and owner of a patent strategy and consulting company, however, I spent many years in the trenches working to prepare and file U.S. and foreign patent applications for large and small companies of varying levels of sophistication. From my experiences, there is no doubt that there are fundamental problems with the U.S. patent system, as well as the patent systems of other countries.
As one example, I frequently experienced frustration dealing with patent examiners who clearly did not understand the basic rules of patentability, even when these rules are clearly spelled out for all to see in their manual. In recent years, it started to seem that I was dealing with the “no patent office,” instead of the Patent Office.This blog post is not about the problems with the patent system, however. The reality is that the patent system is what it is, and your company cannot wait until the patent system is fixed to jump into the patent game. (For a good summary of the arguments regarding the problems with U.S. patent system check here: http://www.news.com/Fixing-a-broken-patent-system/2010-1014_3-6212615.html). As with many things in life, if you wait for perfection, you may end up waiting forever. Put another way, as a leading business strategist, you understand that there must be a way to “make lemonade from the Patent Office’s lemons.”
To this end, now that I involved in development of IP strategy and am no longer engaged in a daily “foxhole fight” with patent examiners about the merits of my clients’ inventions. As such, I can look at the graph below and see opportunity, rather than feeling despair over the probability that I will be in a continued fight with uninformed examiners in the Patent Office for years to come. The opportunity I see relates to the competitive information embedded in the masses of patent filings that are available for review by the public. This information has only been available in significant volume for the 5-7 years, so methods of evaluating and capitalizing on patent filing information by businesses are still evolving. Nonetheless, smart business people are currently and will increasingly utilize this information, in the form of patent analytics, to inform and improve their business decisions.