Diversified Financial: Pending Thoughts About Patent Attorneys ...
Patents filed by diversified financial companies now cover everything from contract terms to underwriting to administration and investment. Some of the inventions protected by the patents rely on computer support systems. But many others do not.
What to do? Play offense ... and defense.
The offensive part of the game plan is simply stated: Companies seeking to mitigate their risk should build a portfolio by inventing and protecting new products and services. They can also buy rights to those products and services from others.
But be quick. Companies cannot apply for a patent more than a year after certain public acts. So call a patent attorney at the earliest opportunity. Remember that getting a patent does not mean you have to go around suing everyone. One can sue selectively or not at all. One can use a patent as a trading card: you give me a license to your product or services, and I'll give you a license to mine.
Building up a portfolio can provide a measure of deterrence against attack by others; often, they will not sue if they fear a countersuit. Playing defense means having a patent attorney evaluate and advise companies as to which patents are valid and still need work, and which are invalid and free to be copied.
Patent attorneys can also prepare to fend off attacks by building proof that a company made the invention first. Good record-keeping is vital. Nothing hurts more than knowing you were first but could not prove it. Also, remember that being the first inventor is not always a winning position. If you keep the invention a secret, a competitor might think of the same idea and apply for a patent on it, enforceable against you.
In that case, several variables come into play. So, if you decide not to patent a new idea, you may or may not want to keep it a trade secret. Instead, you might want to publish an article or take other steps to establish evidence that can be used to defeat a competitor's patent on the same idea.
Either way, the game has changed. The reward for being first with an innovation is potentially a lot greater. Being a follower just became a lot riskier. It is time to learn, and teach your personnel, the new rules.
June 1, 2005
Copyright 2005© LRP Publications