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Patent Office

Bureaucrat's dream - Inventor's nightmare

It would be nice to think that the Patent Office is there to help you as an inventor and to give you the chance to register your great invention easily and without much expense, and that your invention would be safe and you'd get recognition from the world for your good idea. Sadly that's not the case, and there are many things wrong with The Patent Office.

Note that the situation is easier for songwriters and playwrights, see How to Copyright your Work

The first problem with being an inventor is: The Patent Office! The Patent Office is (as far as I know and unless something has changed drastically for the better) not run for the benefit of inventors! The Patent Office is a bureaucrat's dream and an inventor's nightmare. Inventors have a hard time of it at the patent office, and I have seen a genius die a pauper because of fighting the patent office rather than getting on with inventing great inventions! I have seen brilliant inventions lost to history because of the legalistic problems of the Patent Office. The Patent Office is set up for big corporations to have legal rights to do litigious battle versus other big corporations, and not so you the genius inventor can get a quick and easy registration of your great idea! Having said that, some inventors have still managed to make a good profit DESPITE the Patent Office! (How about Dyson for example?!). I've got better things to do than to go into details about all the things that are wrong with the Patent Office but I'll summarise them:

Patents are expensive. The cost goes up year on year, and even then it's only temporary, and it's also geographically limited. Needless bureaucracy is demanded and stress put on the inventor. You have to prove to lawyer-types that the invention is novel and unique, and this requires research through miles of paperwork, most of which is irrelevant. Even then, companies can still steal your invention because they can afford better lawyers.

Intellectual property rights are a minefield philosophically (see intellectual property and copyright) as the aim is to achieve two things simultaneously which only work if there is reasonableness.

1. Creators / inventors / artists should get recognition and registration of their works (as opposed to everyone just stealing the ideas).

2. Corporate interests should not be able to have a monopoly and hold back progress. People should be able to get on with life without having to fear being taken to court.

To show an example of what is happening in a similar field, software, many people are giving up on the nonsense protectionist system and have moved to an OPEN SOURCE way of doing things. That's why Microsoft is being displaced by Linux in the world of computers.

In my own inventions, I soon found the whole "patents" business so irksome that I am giving away the simple inventions in the shareware inventions category and for the more significant ideas which could have a vast impact, I'd prefer to keep them a secret and use them myself. (So, for example, if I invented a perpetual motion machine, I'd not try to patent it, but instead I'd build the machine and generate limitless electricity which I'd sell to the Grid and make a lot of money without anyone knowing how!)

Incidentally, this review isn't about any particular country's Patent Office. Strange as it may seem, each country has its own patent office and they each have their own problems, and the inventor has to get a patent in each country to have any hope of protecting the invention. It's absurd.

Also, this page about the dreaded Patent Office is only written as a side-point in the more general page of Advice to Inventors

Note: There is no such thing as "software patents". There are very few countries in the world where software patents have any merit at all. The exception is the USA, and there it is proving to be such a nightmare, costing a fortune in pointless litigation over worthless patents, holding back technology, and bankrupting some worthwhile companies, that the whole "software patents" thing may have to be abolished.

Although the difficulty of software patents may seem quite recent, the actual mistake occurred much earlier. It occurred when patents ceased being a matter of allowing genuine inventors to have some say over their inventions, and instead became a legalistic litigious thing which allowed patent-trolls to prosper.