Monday, 3 June 2013

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About the Author: Brett Gold writes on legal issues in the Chicago area. Brett gives guardianship advice to those in need.  He spends time with his wife and on vacations has backpacked all over the U.S.A.

4 Reasons Internet and Tech Patents Can Be Tricky

Our world is driven by technology. Long gone are the days when a computer took up an entire room. Now we have computers that can fit in the palm of our hands and smart glasses that we can control with our voices. It seems like there is no end to the kind of social change that can be driven by innovative technology. Many people credit Facebook and Twitter for the overthrow of the dictator, President Hosni Mubarak, of Egypt. Technology is in the news every day, and cyber warfare has become a standard weapon of war. But whether technology is being used for good or for bad, it is important that you protect your ideas and your technology with the available intellectual property rights. But patents for technology and the Internet can be tricky. Below are four reasons that Internet and tech patents can be confusing.

#1 – Tech patents are more than just patents; they are drivers of global business. Last summer, the country watched as the “Smartphone Wars” raged between Apple and Samsung. The litigation went on for weeks and the evidence was reported daily. But the trial was about much more than just a pile of patents. According to the New York Times, “Patents can be powerful tools for determining the rules of engagement for major companies in a fast-growing industry like smartphones. Patents are declarations of invention that are often easily obtained from government patent examiners, but their real value — their validity and strength — is determined in court. A few significant rulings in favor of one side or the other, industry and patent experts say, could shape the competitive landscape in smartphones and a sister industry, tablet computers. Court decisions, they say, can provide the basis for negotiating the terms and cost of licensing and cross-licensing of patents — or for keeping certain patented features exclusive to one company.”

#2 – You need to get international protection. As an American company, you probably already know that you need American patents and trade secret protection to keep your ownership if your technology and inventions. But if you are smart, you will also get international protection. According to Adonis A. Neblett and Richard E. Weiner of the law firm Fredrikson, “Confidentiality agreements that would be enforceable in the United States may be invalid in foreign countries… If you really want to protect your technology abroad and are concerned about these obstacles, you need to strategically file patent applications directly in individual countries and/or file an international patent application.”

#3 – You will probably need to hire an expensive lawyer. Patent applications in general are difficult to navigate, and technology and Internet tech patents are often more complicated. So you are going to need to hire a patent attorney, and preferably one with a strong technology background. These lawyers do not come cheap – four hundred dollars an hour was on the low end of Apple’s lawyers’ rates in the aforementioned smartphone wars.

#4 – The patent system is becoming outdated as technology advances quickly. As more and more companies create more and more technological advances, they are all filing for patents and the total number of patents granted continues to grow. The New York Times reported, “In smartphones, some analysts say, the sheer number of patents and the speed of innovation in product development undermine the power of patents. Because a smartphone combines many communications and computing technologies, as many as 250,000 patents may touch the device, according to estimates by RPX, a patent licensing company.”

About the Author: Brett Gold writes on legal issues in the Chicago area. Brett gives guardianship advice to those in need.  He spends time with his wife and on vacations has backpacked all over the U.S.A.


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