Friday, September 14, 2007

IP humor

So the class that I'm taking, Legal Aspects of Biotechnology, is obviously mostly about intellectual property. One of the main portions of the class is threaded discussions, where the professor puts up 5-8 questions and we are expected to answer at least two independently and then continue to discuss our classmates' responses for a minimum number of postings. I noticed that an additional question had been added to the first unit, asking for a "top ten" style listing of important things to know about intellectual property. Credit goes to Peter Gabriele (no, not the singer) for putting together a worthy list:

1. When you learn prior art is not a painting.
Before you set your hair on fire and think you have just invented the wheel you should do a novelty search or patentability search before execution of the application.

2. When your notebook is more important than Nicholas Sparks’.
In the US the rule is “first to invent” and as such the proof to this is witnessed in a bound, dated and countersigned notebook. This is particularly important if there is a question of priority date of invention.

3. When “first to file” has nothing to do with your fingernails.
Outside of the US the general rule of priority is the first to file a patent application. This was one of the motivations of the Provisional Patent Application to get a “filed” priority date.

4. When “offensive rights” does not mean you can mouth off for 20 years.
Having a patent granted gives the inventor exclusionary rights to prevent others from practicing his/her invention and is often called an offensive right.

5. When Small Entity Declaration has nothing to do with your anatomy.
Patents are not just for big guys. If you are an independent inventor or a non-profit organization you can get your fees minimized.

6. The only time you can use the term “broad” and not get pinched for sexual harassment.
Once you begin drafting the patent you would like your claims to be manageably broad enough so you can have more latitude in property rights.

7. When your whole world collapses.
As an inventor you have to have a global mentality because laws are different in different parts of the world. If you disclose your invention in the US before taking consideration to filing dates you can lose world wide filing rights.

8. Crying in your beer over not so secret a secret.
One of the first decisions an inventor has to make is trade secret v. patenting. If they do it right the trade secret can last forever. However, one weakness is if the “secret” is discovered independently and patented the guy with the secret can lose it all.

9. When you find out that the word treble is not a musical term.
It is important to understand the patent laws because the penalty for infringement and willful infringement on top of that is triple financial damages.

10. A free $10,000 tattoo and 20 years to watch the ink dry.
It is critical to be honest in your patent pursuit because the penalty of perjury is 10 years prison and $10,000 fine.

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