Back in class, we were exposed to the different types of intellectual properties. In my second blog post, I will be highlighting the pros and cons of patent and also my opinion on whether this intellectual property is necessary.
Just a quick recap for what a patent is – a monopoly right giving exclusive commercial use of an invention for a specified time period. Patent can be applied to a wide range of inventions and processes ranging from improvement to an existing product or process, improvement in computer technology or even new chemical compound and composition.
In order to qualify for a patent, the invention must comply with certain criteria relating to innovation, originality and usefulness. In short, it must be unique. It should also have an industrial application and contain an inventive step that is obscure.
After fulfilling the above criteria, the Patent and Trademark Office will grant a patent for that particular invention to its inventor as a property right. This exclusive right granted to the patentee prevents others from accessing the patented invention without permission. A term of a new patent will last for 20 years from the date on which the application.
Patent protection is beneficial in the way that the patent holder will have exclusive commercial rights to use and license the invention. With these, they can take legal actions against anyone who tries to access the invention without consent. To a certain extent, the existence of a patent helps to deter infringers. In addition, the patent can also e sold as a source of revenue.
In exchange for the exclusive right, the patent holder needs to disclosure any information of their invention in a full description with claims, published and can be viewed by anyone with internet, including your competitors. After the term of the patent, anyone or businesses can freely use the invention without needing permission or payment to the inventor.
Besides, applying for patent is a lengthy and time consuming process. Cost of patent filing may surpass the actual financial gains. Cost increases if a patent is to be filed in multiple countries. After the patent is granted, annual fees are to be paid to the respective patent offices to prevent the patent period from lapsing. Most importantly, patent holder must always be prepared to defend its patent and taking actions against infringement is costly.
Question: Is Patent Necessary?
The patent system has its own benefits but also has its flaws. Although patent is in place to provide incentive to those pursuing industrial advancement and creativity under the circumstances of invention disclosure and time limitation, the question whether patent is necessary is still debatable.
An inventor does not invent because he/she desires a patent. Instead, one does so to advance the realms of research. A patent merely offers one with a platform to benefit from their invention. Yet if one decided to file for a patent, he/she is subject to the conditions laid out by the patent office. Companies have the choice to keep their composition a secret and as such, do not apply for a patent. In the case of “trade secrets”, inventors may opt to or not to disclose their invention. Ultimately, it’s up to the inventor himself to decide on his point of view with regards to his invention.
Personally, I feel that having a patent can be good but only for short term. As patent gives credits and rights, the patentee can “show off” its invention. Having a patent in the beginning is likely to lead to an increase in sales due to curiosity of consumers and at the same time creates a negative impact on its competitors.
However, having a patent will slowly become pointless as its ‘side-effects’ will then dominate its positive impacts. When competitors modify the initial invention and find excuses to argue that they are originals, a patent will become troublesome and costly to maintain as it gives rise to unnecessary lawsuits that occurs due to “jealousy from competitors”. These lawsuits will result in more comparison between the companies involved and negative remarks from public.
Taking the Smartphone Battle as an Example
Among Samsung devices, many were found to be infringing its “bounce back” feature that occurs when navigating to the end of a page and “zooming in and out” feature as well as the design and iconography on iPhones, iPads and iPod touches. Although there was a conflict in interest between these two companies, Apple mentioned that it is unlikely for them to terminate its supplier partnership with Samsung. Apple need Samsung’s processing chips to manufacture its iPhone and iPad. Without Samsung, they cannot produce these products.
Besides lawsuits between Samsung and Apple, there are also other on-going cases between other companies. The figure below gives a general idea of conflict of interest between existing mobile companies.
In my opinion, there is no point fighting against each other since their products mounted with Samsung LCD. On the other hand, many other smart phones are also installed with Google’s Google Map. Not only that the battle of patents benefits none but also it gives public the opportunity to “see free show”, compare and give sarcastic comments of them.company. For example, the new iPad is one of the many models that are are so similar. Besides, most of their parts are not produce by their own
At the end of the day, we, as the consumers, do not really care who the originator of this particular invention is. What we are more interested in is the quality and cost of the invention/product. If having a patent will eventually lead to waste of time and money due to unnecessary lawsuits, why not spend this time and money to invent or improve on existing creation.