Are Patents Worth The Trouble? by Kunzler IP


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The Northfront Entrepreneur Alliance is a entreprenuer networking association in Northern Utah. This presentation was given on 05.18.11 to the group by Bryan Massey, a partner at Kunzler IP. He discussed the idea of whether or not a patent is worth the trouble and new changes coming to the patent process.

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  • Design patents differ from utility patents in that a design patent covers only the ornamental appearance of a useful product. The design patent, therefore, covers what the product looks like, not what it is or what it does, and therefore cannot be used for anything which does not have an ornamental appearance. Design patents can, however, be granted on new versions of old classes of products, if they have unique and innovative appearances as compared with the prior products in that class. For instance, bottles as a class are old, but a newly designed bottle which has a unique and distinctive shape or decoration may be the subject of a design patent. The design elements which are claimed to be unique and distinctive must be ornamental and not functional in the structure of the product. Elements of a product's design which have an appearance dictated by the operation or structure of the product are functional and must be ignored in determining what is a patentable design. For instance, a shoe must have a certain basic shape to fit one's foot, so anything ornamental about a shoe design must be something more than just the basic functional shoe shape. Design patents, since they are directed to the product's ornamental appearance, are composed almost entirely of drawings of the product showing different views of the product's appearance. The minimal text in the specification merely identifies each figure in the drawings, and there is only a single claim which is in wording dictated by the USPTO - 3 - rules. Examination of a design patent application involves the Examiner's comparison of the appearance of the claimed design with the appearances of similar designs of previous products. Any prior product which looks similar to the claimed product may affect the patentability of design of the claimed product, even though the old and new products may be intended for different uses. Design patents have a term of 14 years from the date of the patent's issuance. Plant patents are a small category of patents which protect certain types of plants, such as flowers, fruits, shrubs and vines. A plant patent consists of a text describing the botanical characteristics of the plant, including size, flower and leaf colors and shapes, growth habit, and growing seasons and locations. It also includes color photographs or paintings of the plant and a single formalized claim. The inventor is the person who has first reproduced and grown the plant. Plant patents have a term of 20 years from the initial filing date of the first patent application from which the patent claims priority. About 10,000 plant patents have been issued.
  • Provisional: More detail: When technology is cutting edge or hot market or competitive market. Then likelihood of prior art becoming available during that year is high, so reliance on sufficiency of provisional is high. Less detail: Slower markets, older technologies, etc.
  • Specification, Claims, Prosecution: This is why choosing a patent attorney is important. You must choose wisely.
  • Indirect market exclusivity is patenting products that might compete with your product (patent thickets). Direct exclusivity is prevent others from making, using, selling your product. Intangible Property Asset: Monetary worth of patents. Commodity and fungible as stocks. Mergers and Acquisitions. Many Valuation Models exist. USPTO: IP in the U.s. is worth about $5.5 trillion (greater than GDP of all countries but China). Probably low estimate as Google paid $900 million for Nortel patent portfolio just last month. 80% of corporate assets are intangible. Coca-cola: Stock value = $160 billion Physical assets = $20 billion Intangible assets = $140 billion
  • Others: Short Term of Protection
  • Don’t Go Big Just to Go Big Don’t Go Small Just to Go Small
  • These are effectively petitions to accelerate examination: to be placed at front of line and examined quickly. PPH, Green, Age, Health, do not require Accelerated Examination Requirements. Allowance rate of 80.3% versus 42% overall. I.  
  • $4,000 may be reduced for small entities if Patent Reform Passes: fee setting authority Slow track may be split up into application stage, search stage, and examination stage Goal is to get pendency for normal application down from 36 months to 20 months. Bob Stoll (Commissioner for Patents) and Dave Kappos (Director of USPTO): Patent attorneys
  • Great because you effectively get a first bite at the apple. Avoids delays and RCE costs. Program expires my 16, 2012
  • Patent Reform Act
  • Double the allowance rate compared to conventional tracks
  • Heavy: Cutting edge technologies (Fusion IO) and high direct competition (TaylorMade) and highly regulated industries (Cummins) and socially-driven technologies (green)—high chance of commercial success—high probability of patentability Lite: Unsure of commercial success; unsure of patentability, want patent pending only, Must be aware of risks. Active patent counsel may seem counterintuitive to reduce expenses, but the more involved with the examiner at patnet office, the more likely a resolution will come sooner. Light: Low tech (mechanical), low competition (i.e., door knobs), low-to-medium chances for patentability, unsure of market success. 9 months on the third-party post-gran review Patent Reform Act may increase costs Third-Party Submissions Third-Party Post-Grant Review
  • How to monetize your patent. Worth the paper it’s on if you do nothing. Many clients that say “Ok, now what?” And expect the money to come flowing in. Enforce: Intel; high risk/high reward: typically results in compulsory licensing USPTO: IP in the U.s. is worth about $5 trillion. Probably low estimate as Google paid $900 million for Nortel patent portfolio just last month.
  • Lean start-up notes
  • Peace of mind knowing you tried, did what you could to protect an invention. How many times have you heard: I thought of that first. Well, why didn’t you patent? No regrets You may be upset at the money you spend, but you probably won’t regret trying. Peace of mind comes with ownership of your idea.
  • Are Patents Worth The Trouble? by Kunzler IP

    1. 1. Bryan J. Massey Intellectual Property Attorney Patents: Are They Worth the Trouble?
    2. 2. <ul><li>Yes </li></ul><ul><li>No </li></ul><ul><li>Maybe </li></ul>Introduction So, Are Patents Really Worth the Trouble?
    3. 3. <ul><li>What is a Patent? </li></ul><ul><li>Why Should You Patent? </li></ul><ul><li>Who Should Patent? </li></ul><ul><li>When Should You Patent? </li></ul><ul><li>Where Should You Patent? </li></ul>Introduction The Five W’s of Patents
    4. 4. What is a Patent? Trademark Protects Brands and Product Identity Indefinite Term of Protection Similar to Design Patents Protects artistic expression Lengthy, but Definite, Term of Protection Software Protects Valuable Confidential Information Indefinite Term of Protection Requires Secrecy A Patent Is Not Trade Secret Copyright
    5. 5. <ul><li>A Time-Limited Monopoly of the Right to Make, Sell, Use, and Import the Subject Matter Within the Scope of Protection Granted by the Patent. </li></ul>What is a Patent? A Patent Is
    6. 6. What is a Patent? 1 2 3 <ul><li>Utility Patent: Protects function (i.e., the “how it works”) of a useful invention </li></ul><ul><li>Potentially Broad Protection </li></ul><ul><li>3+ Years To Obtain </li></ul><ul><li>20 Year Term </li></ul><ul><li>Design Patent: Protects ornamental appearance of a useful product </li></ul><ul><li>Narrow Protection </li></ul><ul><li>Quick, Cheap, Easy </li></ul><ul><li>14 Year Term </li></ul><ul><li>Plant Patent: Protects botanical characteristics of certain types of bioengineered plants </li></ul>Patent Types
    7. 7. <ul><li>U.S. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Provisional </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>1 Year Term </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Placeholder </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Non-Provisional (Regular) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Foreign </li></ul><ul><ul><li>PCT International </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Regional (EPO, ARIPO, etc.) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Individual Countries </li></ul></ul>What is a Patent? Utility Patent Types
    8. 8. What is a Patent? Utility Patent Procurement
    9. 9. What is a Patent? Utility Patent Procurement <ul><li>Application </li></ul><ul><li>Drawings (if necessary) </li></ul><ul><li>Written Description </li></ul><ul><li>Claims </li></ul><ul><li>Prosecution </li></ul><ul><li>Pre-Appeal: Novel and Non-Obvious = Allowance </li></ul><ul><li>Appeal to BPAI </li></ul><ul><li>Appeal to Federal Courts </li></ul><ul><li>Pre-Application Patentability Assessment </li></ul><ul><li>Search: Issued Patents and Patent Publications </li></ul><ul><li>Statutory Bars </li></ul>
    10. 10. <ul><li>What is Patent Value? </li></ul><ul><li>What are Patent Burdens? </li></ul><ul><li>How to Reduce Patent Burdens? </li></ul>Why Patent? Issues Patent Success = Value - Burdens
    11. 11. <ul><li>Legal Monopoly (Exclusiveness) </li></ul><ul><li>Offensive </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Licensing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Litigation: Plaintiff </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Defensive </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Direct and Indirect Market Exclusivity </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Litigation: Defendant </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Intangible Property Asset </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Ex.: U.S. IP Value: $5.5T, Nortel/Google: $900M </li></ul></ul>Why Patent? Value
    12. 12. <ul><li>Patent Counsel </li></ul><ul><li>Long Waits </li></ul><ul><li>Low Allowance Rates </li></ul><ul><li>Expensive </li></ul><ul><li>Monetization </li></ul><ul><li>Others? </li></ul>Why Patent? What Are the Burdens?
    13. 13. <ul><li>Not All Patent Firms/Attorneys Created Equal </li></ul><ul><li>Size Doesn’t Always Matter </li></ul><ul><li>Choose Wisely </li></ul>Why Patent? Patent Counsel
    14. 14. <ul><li>Traditional Petitions </li></ul><ul><ul><li>No Fee: Age and Health </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Fee: All Others (Onerous Requirements) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Recently-Enacted Petitions </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Green Technology (Any Class) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Discovery/Development of Energy Resources </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Utilization/Conservation of Energy Resources </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Green House Gas Reduction </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>No Fee </li></ul></ul></ul>Why Patent? Long Waits—Accelerated Examination
    15. 15. <ul><li>Fast Track </li></ul><ul><ul><li>$4,000 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Accelerated Examination: 4/12 </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Normal Track </li></ul><ul><ul><li>No Fee </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Normal Examination </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Slow Track </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Fee??? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Delayed Examination: Up To 30 months </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>May Require Pre-Grant Publication </li></ul></ul>Why Patent? 1460 N Long Waits—New Track System
    16. 16. <ul><li>Multiple Pending Applications </li></ul><ul><li>Voluntarily Cancel One Application </li></ul><ul><li>Receive Accelerated Examination on Another Application </li></ul>Why Patent? Long Waits—Voluntary Cancellation
    17. 17. <ul><li>Prior to First Office Action </li></ul><ul><li>Prior Art Search </li></ul><ul><li>Informal Rejections/Objects </li></ul><ul><li>Conduct Interview to Discuss Rejections/Objections </li></ul><ul><li>Resolution </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Agreement: Allowance </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>No Agreement: First Office Action </li></ul></ul>Why Patent? Long Waits—First Action Interview
    18. 18. <ul><li>Higher Budgets </li></ul><ul><li>Remote Offices </li></ul><ul><li>Examiner Training </li></ul>Why Patent? Long Waits—Intra-USPTO Changes
    19. 19. <ul><li>Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) and Accelerated Examination </li></ul><ul><li>Examiner Training </li></ul><ul><li>Examiner Interviews </li></ul><ul><li>Claim Drafting Strategies </li></ul><ul><li>Know Your Examiner Type </li></ul><ul><li>Pre-Appeal Brief Conferences </li></ul>Why Patent? Low Allowance Rates
    20. 20. <ul><li>Provisional Applications </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Delay/Avoid Costs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Types: Heavy ($5,000), Medium ($3,000), Lite ($1,000) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Application Preparation ($5K-$8K) </li></ul><ul><li>Application Prosecution ($1K-$$$) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Reducing Waits/Increasing Allowance Strategies </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Active Patent Counsel </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Prior Art Searches (Free-$1K) </li></ul>Why Patent? 1460 N. National Road. 1460 N. National Road. Expensive—Procurement
    21. 21. <ul><li>Spend More on Procurement </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Claim Strategy/Disclosure </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Good Prior Art Searches </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Disclose Search Results to Patent Office </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Patent Invalidation Harder Based on Prior Art Disclosed to Patent Office </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Fee Arrangements </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Contingency Fees, Success Fees, Limited Representation, Flat Fees </li></ul></ul>Why Patent? 1460 N. National Road. 1460 N. National Road. Expensive—Enforcement
    22. 22. <ul><li>Sell </li></ul><ul><ul><li>IP = $$$ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Scope of Claims </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Demand for Claimed Technology </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Licensing, Usage, Royalty Fees </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Patent Matchmakers, Brokers, Auctions </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Enforce </li></ul><ul><li>Indirect </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Funding </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Exclusivity </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Patent Pending” </li></ul></ul>Why Patent? Monetization
    23. 23. <ul><li>Longevity </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Technology Shelf Life > 3 years </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Trade Secrets </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Methods of Manufacture </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reverse Engineerable </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Marketable </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Successful Business Model </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Surveys—NDAs </li></ul></ul>Who Should Patent? Technology Dependent
    24. 24. <ul><li>Patent Rich/Lean </li></ul><ul><li>Defensive Publications </li></ul>Who Should Patent? Industry Dependent
    25. 25. <ul><li>Too Early </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Core Functional Concepts Still Under Development </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Too Late </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Public Disclosure: Foreign vs. U.S. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Trials/Experimentation Exception </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Commercialization Attempts </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Swearing Back Implications </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Paris Convention </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Non-Disclosure Agreements </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Governed Under Contract Law </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Patent Reform Act: First To File </li></ul>When to Patent?
    26. 26. <ul><li>U.S. </li></ul><ul><li>Foreign </li></ul><ul><ul><li>PCT </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Searching Authority Considerations </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Regional Organizations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Front-End Loaded </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Individual Countries </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Unique Requirements </li></ul></ul></ul>Where to Patent?
    27. 27. Where to Patent? Patent Filings 2000-2009
    28. 28. Where to Patent? Patent Filings Per Year 2000-2009
    29. 29. <ul><li>Compare Value vs. Burden </li></ul><ul><li>Understand Technology/Industry </li></ul><ul><li>Choose Wisely </li></ul><ul><li>Peace of Mind </li></ul><ul><li>Changes are Coming </li></ul>Conclusion Are Patents Worth the Trouble? THANK YOU!!