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Patent Defense Collaborative

A novel form of legal partnership.
  [vote for,

Our system of intellectual property is pretty good but a litigious society is increasingly pitched to the side with more money to spend on litigation. A PDC is a co-op style legal service for the defense of intellectual property. Instead of the conventional submission process the patentor submits the idea to a PDC review board. This board reviews the condition of the patent documentation and the fiscal merits of the technique or technology. If the patent is complete and ready for submission the review board would decide if the patent was a property they were able or willing to protect. If they decide not to become shepherds of the property then the idea owner may take it to another firm or submit it in the normal fashion, loosing only the submission fee which would be proportionate to the reputation of the PDC. If on the other hand the PDC decides to accept the property the patent is re-worded to best legal effect, expounded, properly demonstrated with top end working models and a legal agreement is written up between the inventor and the PDC. The agreement is a symmetrical ownership-asymmetric profit sharing agreement between the two agencies. Both agree under binding arbitration, inventor to take the idea and make it as profitable as possible, and law firm to vigorously defend and supply legal services to the idea for a fixed fraction of the profits from it. Some ideas would be sold quickly to industries others might become the basis of profitable companies. Either party may undertake to sell the patent but may only force such a sale if they can demonstrate that the other party has failed in their obligation. The PDC is barred from otherwise owning or taking share in properties which they were former shepherds. Obviously the nature of this agreement is complicated and well in the territory of the lawyers themselves. The basic underlying point is that the PDC may only make money on the idea if the inventor does and then only at a fixed ratio and vice versa. The PDC would specialize only in the inventions that it felt confident about making money from and defending easily and the inventor would seek out the firm that gave the best balance of historic results and bid terms. The inventor gets a partner invested in making money off of their idea and expanding the terms of the patent as much as possible to cover as many profitable applications as possible and the PDC gets to act as legal representation to ideas that may make them lots of money for little effort. The PDC would effectively insulate inventors and speculative patent lawyers from risk by pooling liability and profit.
WcW, Feb 03 2010

http://www.inventio...on_to_Practice.html [leinypoo13, Feb 05 2010]

Actually not patented Normzone_20Paragraph_20Breaker
[normzone, Feb 05 2010]

Reductio ad Absurdum http://ipdirections...uction-to-practice/
[leinypoo13, Feb 05 2010]


       You couldn't make this a bit more concise, could you?
MaxwellBuchanan, Feb 03 2010

       OK: Patent law firm legally bound to provide needed services in exchange for fraction of profits, invested in making the patenting process as profitable as possible.
WcW, Feb 03 2010

       I applaud the idea of helping inventors to protect their IP, but I see some problems with this idea, and also some redundancy against current practice.   

       First, how is it determined whether the inventor is making his idea "as profitable as possible" (even assuming that this is the inventor's aim)? Second, the "review board" is going to have to consist of a lot of extremely gifted people from all disciplines (though this could be overcome, I guess, by specializing).   

       What you're really asking, sort of, is for this "PDC" to invest in the IP and help protect it. Why is this better than the inventor approaching VCs or other funders, who may undertake the exploit the patent and, in the course of so doing, will also do their utmost to defend the patent they have invested in?   

       I guess I am asking: why give someone a share in your patent (which will deter the crap out of investors) in exchange for protection, when you could go straight to the investor who will provide both exploitation of the patent and protection?
MaxwellBuchanan, Feb 03 2010

       The concept of the PDC protects or "shepherds" the idea through the submission (scope and wording, material demonstration, prior art, etc. with motivation to make the asset as profitable as possible) then defends the patent while the inventor attempts to bring it to market. This additional support allows the inventor to freely bring the idea to market without fear of having it stolen in the investor/buyer seeking phase, then help negotiating in that sale for maximum value to the inventor/PDC unit.
WcW, Feb 03 2010

       Hmmm - fair enough then. A good patent lawyer should draft the patent as well as possible, and make the best acheivable claims, though he won't help in providing material demonstration, and will want payment up-front.   

       What you're really talking about here is a business angel who is prepared to come in at a pre-patent stage. I suspect that many such arrangements are already made on an ad-hoc basis, but there is no harm in setting up a company to do this.   

       One snag for the inventor: early investors will need (and want) a far bigger share of any returns, since early investments have a far higher likelihood of failure.
MaxwellBuchanan, Feb 03 2010

       +. A Menlo Park for the modern era? I think Universities do this all the time. I also think companies like Invention Submission Corporation do it too, though I don't feel like looking it up. I think the standard protocol is to shop around a provisional see if there are any takers, and if not abandon it. The more interest in the idea, the more "defense" provided. I like the idea, but you would have to have a lawyer with an inventors heart, because "normal" lawyers (whose 80% of their work will soon be replace by a turbo tax-like algorithm) are in it for the dough, and as you said can make far more money off of litigation than something like this.
leinypoo13, Feb 03 2010

       I don't know squat about intellectual property, but the "reputation" angle reminds me of the review process for learned journals. The journals want high quality papers, to enhance the journals' reputations, and the scholars want high quality journals, to enhance the papers' reputations. There are lots of journals of varying quality, and an equilibrium is reached in which the name of the journal signals, with enough accuracy to be useful, how good the paper is.   

       The point is, heuristics like that are invaluable, because nobody can evaluate every paper in detail. One has, at least, do decide which ones deserve a careful reading. I assume this applies as much to patents (or pre-patents) as to scholarly papers. So, the key, so it seems to me, is having lots of PDCs with varying reputations. An inventor would get the chance to pitch to a better class of venture capitalist if he could say he'd "signed" with one of the really high-reputation PDCs.   

       I suppose some VC firms provide, in addition to investment, this sort of "reputational" service, but the ratio of money at risk to reputational enhancement is high, in that arrangement. A PDC would reverse that ratio.   

       The question remains whether the VC's reputation carries weigh only *because* it puts its money where its mouth is. Would a PDC be unable to acquire a high reputation because it wasn't puting as much money at risk? Perhaps the PDC could sell equity, whose value rose or fell with the market's estimation of total value of its patent portfolio, that'd be an index of "reputation," analogous to Impact Factor for journals.
mouseposture, Feb 03 2010

       I don't really understand your objection. If you are trying to sell a good idea rather than implement it yourself (an impossibility in most cases) you are in peril of being out lawyered simply because you do not have the money to litigate against a clear violation of the law. This is crappy but it's a reality. You have a lot of options this is just a new one. I think it has a lot more "heart" than paying consultants who have no investment in maximizing your return.
WcW, Feb 04 2010

       //a clear violation of the law   

       What's the violation? Ideas are not patentable, only some "thing" is actually patentable. (Be it a process, device method etc.) But it does actually have to exist and work, prior to filing, (called "reduction to practice"; part of the invention process) and if challenged in the future evidence must be produced to that effect. This is why going to VC with an idea instead of a patent protected prototype, is ridiculously stupid (also writing an idea on the HB you might pursue). They say "Yeah, I was thinking of something similar", will steal it, file it and backdate their "reduction to practice" prior to meeting you.   

       IF you conceive of ideas, choose the good ones, search for prior art, build it or send it off to engineers, then file for your protection, properly then you will be in good shape (or at least patent trolls will come to your defense if you have a legitimate case for infringement). Problem is this will cost probably around 50K for a mechanical device. 10-15K for attorneys, 30K to build the prototype.   

       I think that what you are trying to do is lower the bar for turning an idea into a reality. And I agree that it is so high for modern inventors that it is frustrating. What your idea is about, is establishing a niche for inventors within in the context of our litigious society, from the moment of idea conception. This is extremely laudable. But, I think the solution may be the other way around, a consortium of inventors from different science or engineering disciplines, practiced in the legal arts, at first perhaps with an experienced patent attorney who can teach them the how to write a patent from a litigators perspective. If you sit around the table, come up with ideas, choose the good ones and someone in your consortium can actually build a protoype, then you have alleviated most of your capital costs (barring materials), as the inventors are comfortable and knowledgeable about filing bulletproof patents (-15K) and team members can build it (-30K).
leinypoo13, Feb 04 2010

       45k is a high bar to set on innovation. Although I have no great love for intellectual property law or litigation as a method of justice I know of to many cases of nice intelligent people who had work stolen but did not feel that they could afford to fight it. This is an idea that could help protect small inventors by providing the kind of fierce legal and technical support of a big company or co-operative. The interdependence is what makes the situation fair and effective.
WcW, Feb 05 2010

       //Ideas are not patentable, only some "thing" is actually patentable. (Be it a process, device method etc.) But it does actually have to exist and work, prior to filing//   

       This hasn't been true for many years. The filing of the patent application is nowadays considered reduction to practice, and no model or working prototype is required except in special circumstances--like when the examiner suspects you're trying to claim a perpetual motion machine.
ldischler, Feb 05 2010

       //The filing of the patent application is nowadays considered reduction to practice.   

       It is considered by the examiner yes, but only because they take your word. It is still a legal requirement for a patent. There are many opportunities in which outside parties, can protest your patent, in which you may be required to prove you reduced it to practice prior to the filing date. They can: 1. File a protest about your application before publication, 2. Around issuance, if you told someone your idea and they file near the same time, there can be interferences (in which two parties filed an application around the same time). These may be served on the applicant or told to the examiner. Know who gets the patent? First to reduce to practice. After issuance there are other opportunities to challenge 3) ex parte or inter parte reexaminations all of which may require you to file affidavits of conception and reduction to practice. If it is proven that you lied and you only filed an idea, or another reduced it to practice before you, you lose the patent.
leinypoo13, Feb 05 2010

       In many (most?) jurisdictions outside of the US you only need to provide sufficient explanation/detail in the patent for a 'person skilled in the art' to build the invention. There is no requirement to prove you actually built it yourself.
xaviergisz, Feb 05 2010

       If inventorship is in question, in the us, the date of invention is not the filing date, but the date of "actual reduction to practice". "constructive reduction to practice" is what is needed to fulfill the requirements of a patent and like Xavier says. Skilled in the art, etc. -link- I say it is important with regard to litigation, only because if someone steals your idea, builds it, and claims the same invention, even though you may have the earlier priority, if you did not actually reduce it to practice before they did, you lose in an interference. Especially, if it is a good idea and only an idea, even if you file and you pitch it to people with money, they too can file and have the resources to beat you in the race. Or concoct evdience that they thought of it first. That's why it's better to build it IMO, if you are afraid of people stealing it.
leinypoo13, Feb 05 2010

       I really think there is an unmet need here. Maybe I didn't hit the nail straight on the head with this but I think there may be some good ideas hiding here.
WcW, Feb 05 2010

       You could help them come out into the open using the patented paragraph breaker.
normzone, Feb 05 2010

       I have conflicting views on this idea.   

       On the one hand, I agree with the sentiment that there should be more efficient systems of collaboration wherein each member of a collaborative project focuses on what they are good at (inventors invent, lawyers lawyer etc).   

       On the other hand, people involved in a collaboration should have an understanding/interest/ commitment in all aspects of the project; if members of a project become 'silos' the coherence/cohesiveness is lost to the detriment of the project.   

       Other thoughts: the patent system is arbitrary, messy, inefficient. If you can navigate your way through it there are many different ways of making money; from the genius of Dean Kamen, to the nastiness of patent trolls, to the somewhere-in- between of "Innovation Ventures". Basically, if you can make money from your PDC, all the power to you.
xaviergisz, Feb 05 2010

       //Know who gets the patent? First to reduce to practice.//   

       Again, in such a case, the patent goes to the first to document that he had the concept, not the first to build anything.
ldischler, Feb 05 2010

       [ld] Checked the MPEP. You are correct. First to conception and reduction to practice (where reduction can be either actual or constructive (i.e. filing)). My bad.
leinypoo13, Feb 05 2010


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