You know what? Bring it on! Yes, on many occasions have I defended the patent system, because by design it is a good thing, a good system. It protects the innovator while he or she develops the product that she patented, and get a head-start in the industry, not having to worry about competition. It is rewarding the true innovator with a save haven of 5 years to get their product on the market first.
I still absolutely support this cause. It is truly something that is very good. If you are really an innovator, or someone who comes up with something that could really make a difference, you don’t have to worry about everyone stealing your concept. For example, one of my systems contains a unique way of feeding products with data, and the production of the data. It is very difficult to find an investor if you know that anyone could simply hear the idea, turn it down, and have someone else make it. Without patents, you are not protected at all. And if you are a small business, or even an individual, there is no way you can produce in the time it would take a big company with whole teams of people waiting for work.
So, knowing this, it pains me a lot to say the words: Let’s trash the whole patent system.
It is not that I have seen the light, because, as mentioned, the whole patent system is by design good. But the way it is applied has gotten so broken over the years, that I honestly think you cannot salvage it. There needs to be a new patent system, completely rebuilt from the ground up. It should not be held compatible with the current patent system, but we should be able to transfer patents to the new system.
Why? Well, it is because of the news that Apple received the design pattern on rounded corners on mobile devices. HOW can a company claim to be the owner of a shape???? I have been dealing a lot with technical and design patents, knowing there might be a good result in there somehow. But this, sorry, is not tolerable. Anyone who wants to produce a mobile device with rounded cursor, good luck, because you can’t. Sorry, there is no excuse for this. And this has been going on for a long, long time. There are enough companies patenting colors in business marketing. Yes, you might not be able to use certain colors as your company’s identity because someone else got the patent for this.
Now, I am tempted to mention we should just trash design patents, but we can’t. Everything is eventually connected, and rebuilding the patent system happens with everything, or not at all.
But not all. Let’s make sure there are technologies that cannot be patented. And that there is a possibility to file something as a non-patent. This means that the registrar holds the right to allow patents to be created based upon what has been registered. For example, Oracle could claim that no one can patent any program built in Java, or Microsoft on .Net. This way, it would be possible to prevent patent trolls to claim patents based on platforms that exist.
Design patents should only be able to be based on complex designs, so no basic shapes, colors.
And, a patent can only be filed by the creator. This can be a company or person. But it has to created by this entity. This means, you cannot patent anything that already exists and is known to the market. So, Apple, with the rounded corners on devices, is not able to patent it, because it has been used for years and years. But this also means, that if you might file for a patent, and someone else in Holeintheground, AK has proof that he has something like that before yours, you still can get the patent, since it was not a known thing in the market.
To make sure that that someone in Holeintheground, AK has an equal chance to file for the patent, and that it is not limited to people or companies with money, filing a patent should be free for everyone.
But filing a patent is not without responsibility. You have by default, one year to show you are actually doing something with it. If you can’t provide this proof within the year, your patent is released for a public licence. This means that this patent cannot be filed anymore by anyone (because, well, it is now registered to be known in the market). So, just getting the patent doesn’t mean you can just keep it. What would this proof be? You have to show any sign of serious production. If you can, you have another two years to show progress in your production. If you can’t, the patent is again released for a public license. If you can show the progress (this means the product is released or in serious production), you can receive another 2 years of registration.
This period is called the Development-patent. It means, you hold this patent for a maximum of five years for development. But immediately is voided by the time the product hits the market or is deployed in any other product that is made public. At the moment of release, the development-patent is automatically transferred to a 1-year market license. This means that for the first year on the market, the product is protected by the patent. This gives the producer time to claim a bit of the market. After one year, the patent is automatically transferred to a public license.
Now, what would this mean if you have a patent on a concept that works in an already existing product? Like, a touch-screen that listens to you for mobile phones. Let’s say, I have that patent. I walk up to Apple, and try to sell the concept for production in the iPhone. Apple agrees, and I can now show, by the contract, that I have proof that it is in production. I still hold the patent. If Apple wants, they can put in our contract that I am not allowed to sell my concept to any other company, which is a legal thing, and doesn’t have to be covered in the patent. Apple releases the iPhone 8 with my screen. At the moment it hits the market, I only have one year left to make good money with my patent. Keep in mind, Apple doesn’t have my patent. They did not invent it. So, I have negotiated a 3% sales deal on every sold iPhone. This works for only one year. After that, my concept is up for grabs. So, hopefully I got filthy rich in the meantime.
Tricky thing, how will this work on medicine? Design, research and production of medicine can take many, many years… way more than the 6 you can get in total. It still will work out if you think at it logically. You cannot file a patent for ‘an anti-cancer medicine’. It is like claiming ‘a car’. It is too global. If you cannot explain how your product is working, you cannot file it, because it is not an invention. You have to understand your own product, how it will work, what it will do, just like current patents do.
So, if you know what will make your medicine work, then you can patent it. Not prior to that. So, yes, it may be that that multiple pharmaceutical companies will be in the race for finding a medicine that works. But also, that they cannot patent a globally described patent.
And, then, what is the public license I was talking about earlier? If a patent has become a public license, the concept is available to each and everyone.
Ah well, it is just an idea…
Hmmm…. wait a minute! What am I doing? Sharing a good idea with you all? Hold on! Let me first get this new patent concept be patent pending! Ha! Eat that!