This is a transcript from a section of the course “Patents 340 – Invention Rating Checklist,” which is available here at IP.Education.
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Detectability is one of the most critical things for a good invention. Zero detectability can mean that a patent is absolutely worthless.
The key question to ask is whether or not you could detect if a competitor was copying your invention.
If there is no way to detect that someone is copying you, the invention is worthless, plain and simple.
This is because someone can be doing it right under your nose, and you cannot tell.
If you never know – or technically – you cannot prove in a court of law that someone is copying you, you cannot enforce the invention.
Software patents are notorious for being undetectable.
Many software patents talk about complicated algorithms or other things that happen deep in the bowels of a computer.
These things are often almost impossible to detect.
Why do we care about detectability?
So what? We get a patent that can’t be detected. Where is the harm?
There is a harm – and it can be substantial.
The harm comes from the Quid Pro Quo that you make with the government – the people.
The quid pro quo is merely a trade: you are giving up your trade secrets when you get a patent.
In exchange, you get the limited right to exclude someone from doing your invention.
Most people don’t realize that for patent protection, we have to give up something of great value.
And we *might* get something of value back.
In the next video, we will look at a great example: Tropicana’s patent on orange juice.