A different topic: Patents

Everyone is writing about Baltimore. I had my rant on the subject yesterday. My topic today is different—our federal patent system. I have a number of patents, seven if I include the spin-offs (sometimes two patents are received for a single submission.)

A Congressman is trying to upset that patent applecart. He thinks it’s too easy for “patent trolls” to sue patent holders. He’s wrong. An article about this Congressman’s efforts appeared today in the Washington Times.

Feds own thousands of patents that could be affected by legislation

Support for bill from China gives opponents ammunition

– The Washington Times – Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The U.S. government’s ownership of tens of thousands of patents has thrown an unexpected wrinkle into a congressional effort to alter the system that governs American inventions.

The Innovation Act, being shepherded through the House by Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, Virginia Republican, was designed to reorganize the patenting process to address concerns about frivolous lawsuits filed by so-called patent trolls.

Republican leaders hoped the bill would breeze through the chamber like similar legislation in the last Congress. The bill had four hearings in the Judiciary Committee since January and was being fast-tracked for a floor vote by Republican leaders in hopes of getting it to the Senate, where it faces a less-certain future.

But the measure has met larger-than-expected resistance from small inventors, lawyers, universities and some conservative activists, including expected Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina. Critics have argued that the bill would create a “big government” solution that could weaken patent protections envisioned by the Founding Fathers in the U.S. Constitution, tipping the system in favor of big corporations and hurting small inventors.

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of California has been leading an effort within the House Republican ranks to slow down the legislation. He and others have been focusing on a concern they believe the authors of the legislation have not considered: potential financial and liability implications for the U.S. government.

Federal agencies have held tens of thousands of patents over the decades, including the Ebola virus, medical marijuana and space and military equipment. A 2008 study by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office identified at least 47,220 patents owned by federal entities, about 1 percent of all patents issued. Last year, federal agencies sought 1,024 patents.

The legislation attempts to discourage lawsuits by patent trolls by shifting the burden of litigation fees to the losing party in a legal dispute. Mr. Rohrabacher and others want to determine how shifting fees could impact taxpayers because the government holds so many patents.

“The federal government holds a tremendous number of patents and licenses them for use. The hastily crafted ‘Innovation Act’ includes provisions that put licensees and the federal government itself at tremendous financial risk and disadvantages small inventors in the courtroom by putting them up against slick corporate legal teams,” Mr. Rohrabacher told The Washington Times.

He said the proposed law was “the worst case of crony capitalism I’ve witnessed in my 3 decades in Washington.”

Mr. Goodlatte’s office did not respond to a request for comment on the concerns about federally owned patents, though a spokeswoman said he didn’t think it would pose a problem for the legislation.

You can read the entire 3-page column here.

My patents are owned by Sprint-Nextel. I had to assign any patents I created to Sprint as a condition of employment. I have no objection to that condition, it was and is a common practice in industry. There are some limits on the employer. The work on the patent has to be done on company time, using company resources, and related to the job. I met all thise conditions.

I did get paid for those patents. Sprint paid, if I recall correctly, $1500 for each patent that was approved by the US Patent Office. I shared some of the credit on a few of the patents with others. The remainder are all mine.

A university professor filed a patent on the same subject and method as mine. Unfortunately for him, my patent had been filed and approved when he filed for his. Short story, he sued for infringement and lost.

But that small fact didn’t prevent him from trying to sell his product under his ‘patent pending’ claim. In fact he tried to become a direct competitor against Sprint in some endeavors. Sprint could have asked for an injunction against the professor and would have likely received one easily, the facts were not refutable.

However, Sprint did not. I was told by Sprint’s patent attorneys, it would not provide Sprint with good publicity—Big Company picking on a Little Guy. Nor, according to Sprint’s business analysts, was the professor well funded and would soon go out of business. That projection turned out to be accurate. The professor had a monstrous ego but zero business sense.

If Congressman Goodlatte’s bill is passed, the professor would have been cut off completely. frivolous or not, he could not have easily sued Sprint and possibly have suffered large legal expenses. The bill is really a club for foreign governments who steal techniques and technology from American companies and individuals with impunity. As the article above says, it nothing more than an exercise in crony capitalism.

Small companies and individual innovators need a method to protect their intellectual properties. This bill would damage that ability if not completely destroy it.

It’s time to, once again, remind ourselves what is happening in Washington. It is not a two party system. It is the entrenched establishment of both parties acting with a common goal: retaining power while supporting themselves and their sycophants.

Fascism: Fascism (/fæʃɪzəm/) is a form of radical authoritarian nationalism[1][2] that came to prominence in early 20th-century Europe. Influenced by national syndicalism, fascism originated in Italy during World War I, combining more typically right-wing positions with elements of left-wing politics,[3] in opposition to liberalism, Marxism, and traditional conservatism. Fascism is often placed on the far-right within the traditional left–right spectrum, but several academics have said that the description is inadequate.[4][5] — wiki.

For more information on the economy of Fascism, go here. Fascism evolved not by right-wing theories but from national syndicalism. We call that system, crony capitalism, today. It’s not always practiced by a dictator.