Inventors Can Be Their Own Worst Enemies
There are times when an inventor can be very myopic. There was one inventor several years ago who insisted on very specific definitions of his invention and would not permit any variation from his vision of the invention. The inventor would not consider any expansive definitions or alternatives to his idea. He was so fixated on his little view of the invention that he could not see how it could possibly be expanded.
As I work with a client to understand an invention and begin writing an application, I spend a considerable amount of time and effort to come up with different alternatives for the concept. Since my background includes many years as a practicing engineer, patent holder, and entrepreneur, I have a unique vantage point to expand the scope of coverage for a patent application.
Sometimes when I am brainstorming with a myopic inventor, the inventor starts to badmouth or criticize any suggestions or alternatives. When I see this happening, they are usually trying to fit the various options into their current view of the invention, their company, and the marketplace as they understand it.
It is important to remember that a patent will be in force for 20 years. The marketplace and technology will grow and change in ways we cannot predict during that time. In today’s business situation, a prudent design may have a specific feature used in a specific manner, but that whole paradigm may change dramatically as new technologies emerge and the marketplace diverts into a brand new unforeseen area.
It is because of these factors that we attempt to put many different options into each patent, even though the options may not be the most cost efficient or market-friendly options for the technology as we understand the market today. We are trying to keep the options open by including every option we can imagine, even those that are not optimal by today’s standards.
The really important and highly valuable patents are not those that are limited to completely define the current state of the art, but those that include some guesses about what the future will hold. When those guesses turn out to be correct, the patent may become a cornerstone patent in a major licensing or litigation context.