Saturday, October 02, 2010

Why patents are such a hassle to obtain - the public policy for patents

Many first-time inventors are surprised at the costs and time involved in obtaining a patent.  "Why is a patent so expensive to obtain and takes so many years to issue?", they ask.

Because all patents applications must be carefully prepared by a qualified professional and must then go through a rigorous examination process. 

At its core, patents are a bargain between an inventor and society (in this case the people of Canada).

In return for a 20 year legal monopoly on his invention, the inventor agrees to teach society a new and non-obvious invention, one that the world has never before seen or contemplated. No mere idea, the inventor also teaches society how to make and use his invention in the best way the inventor knows how.

The patent application is the vehicle through which the inventor teaches his invention to society. This is one of the reasons why patents are published publicly, and are even available on Google.  Once a patent's monopoly term expires, anyone in the society can take advantage of the invention.

This bargain is also why a patent application must be examined by the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) before the patent application can be approved as an issued patent. Among other things, CIPO searches the state of the art to ensure that the invention as taught is truly new and non-obvious - thus ensuring the integrity of the bargain.  This examination process is rigorous and patent applications typically require amendments before the CIPO is satisfied that the invention is new and non-obvious.

And that's why a patent can cost thousands of dollars and take a few years to issue.

2 comments:

  1. Hey David, good to have you writing. I wrote an IP piece on my blog this summer. Cheers:

    http://timsictblogger.blogspot.com/2010/06/canadas-intellectual-property.html

    BTW, there is a lawsuit with Ivi.tv. Could you write a blog on copyright liability and “passive carrier exemption”?

    "In 2000, Canadian-based iCraveTV.com was shut down for the same violations Ivi is accused of. iCraveTV claimed it was acting in accordance with Canadian rebroadcasting laws, but rather than engage in a drawn-out legal battle, it chose to fold."

    Tim

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  2. Hi Tim, thanks for reading my post.

    I'll certainly consider tackling the topic of passive carrier exemption, otherwise known as a "safe harbour" exemption.

    In Canada, copyright liability with regards to a network provider's ability to rely on a "safe harbour exemption" is currently in flux because of pending amendments to the Copyright Act in Bill C-32, currently being debated in Parliament. Among other things, Bill C-32 would codify a safe harbour exemption into Canadian copyright law.

    However, Bill C-32 has problems, too. Notably, Bill C-32 seeks to prevent fair dealing if a copyrighted work is protected by a digital lock.

    I may explore Bill C-32 in a future post. If you would like more information on the key issues on Bill C-32, see this link: http://www.michaelgeist.ca/content/view/5337/159/

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