Monday, April 7, 2014
Laura L. Pollander (The Quinnipiac Probate Law Journal) recently published an article entitled, "First -Inventor-to-File" May Prove Fatal to Patent Rights Upon the Death of an Inventor, (2014) 27 Quinn. Prob. Law Jour. 186. Provided below is an excerpt to the article:
"Do you have a patent on that?" Although not all that long ago this phrase would have been uncommon amongst those outside of major corporations, universities, and research and development hubs, queries into patentability and discussions on the repercussions thereof have become increasingly commonplace in today's society. The awareness of patent protection has improved with the rapid expansion of certain technological fields, changes in the American economy, and the importance and value of patents being brought to the attention of the general population. Television shows focusing on inventing and innovation, such as the American Broadcasting Corporation's "Shark Tank," are now appearing on television stations weekly, bringing patents straight into the American viewer's living room. 1 In every episode, regardless of the complexity or simplicity of the idea being sold to the investors, certain questions are almost always sure to arise. These inquiries explore whether the concept being pitched is sufficiently proprietary and worthy of investment, whether the idea is "novel," 2 whether it has "utility," 3 whether it is "non-obvious," 4 whether it meets other requirements for patentability, and whether the idea has already been patented. 5 These questions are not new. They were neither developed for nor limited to entertainment purposes; however, these questions illustrate the importance of patents for startups 6 and are an essential staple of the day-to-day relationship between the business, financial, and inventing communities of all sizes.