Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Halloween 2012: Revenge of the Entrepreneur

Bad patents are the bane of entrepreneurs.  These zombie patents wander the country-side apparently claiming well-known technology yet somehow managing to survive the invalidity grave yard.  For years entrepreneurs have pled for weapons with which to defend themselves against these monsters.  Finally, despite its warts, the 2011 patent reform law places three new weapons (third-party submissions, post-grant reviews, and inter partes reviews) in the hands of entrepreneurs-- and just in time for Halloween 2012.

More specifically, third-party submissions will allow anyone to submit potential prior art against pending patent applications.  These submissions must occur before the earliest of the patents' allowance -- or the latter of their first office action or 6 months after their publication.  While Examiners are not obligated to give such submissions more weight than other documents, at least they will enjoy a chance of driving stakes through the hearts of bad applications.  Moreover, third-party submissions will also be available against bad patents themselves.  These submissions though will not immediately affect the validity of bad patents.  Instead, their usefulness will hopefully include handing accused infringers a source of industry-gathered killer prior art. 

Entrepreneurs will also be able to petition the Patent Office for post-grant reviews of bad patents for a variety of reasons during their first 9 months after issuance. 

Thereafter, entrepreneurs will be able to petition the office for inter partes reviews of these monsters.  However, patent reform limits the grounds of these reviews to a limited set of prior art related issues.  Patent owners, moreover, will likely oppose these reviews meaning that they will probably be expensive. Nonetheless, patent reform will allow entrepreneurs to take revenge upon bad patents starting on Sept. 16, 2012.

We at the Villhard Patent Group would be happy to discuss these subjects and other aspects of patents and the patenting process with you.  For more information about us, please see www.villhardpatents.com or call us at 512-897-0399.

1 comment:

  1. hmm, I had never seen these reforms as opening the doors to "crowdsourcing" of patents. Probably it would just suffice for Google to add a "comments" field in their patents area, and or some entrepreneur will set up a website where this IP gets the wiki treatment.

    Remenber, you saw it here first! :-)