Response to: Patenting Good Ideas Could Hurt Companies…


Re: Article in WSJ on 8/23/2004 entitled:
Patenting Good Ideas Could Hurt Companies…

The “Patenting Good Ideas” article touches on the past twenty years of my experiences as a patent attorney serving the needs of over 1000 entrepreneurs. My five-lawyer firm is trying (unsuccessfully) to catch the ear of Congress and the President and Presidential Candidate. Big business has systemically weakened the U.S. Patent system over the past twenty years in order to steal American ideas and put jobs overseas. IBM, Wal-Mart and other Fortune 500’s are paying lawyers and lobbyists to gut the U.S. Patent system with queer arguments that this bolsters the economy by forming bright lines at the edges of a patent so that other firms can do research and create new products and jobs very close to but not inside the patent rights of others. This is trash logic. See for more detailed articles on the gutting of the U.S. Patent system.

Ronald Reagan’s greatest contribution to the U.S. economy was the establishment of a single, knowledgeable patent appeals court for all the nation’s patent trial appeals (CAFC). However, since then Republicans and Democrats over the past 12 years have stolen about $500 million dollars from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to buy votes. If the President did this to the U.S. Postal Service, your mail would arrive in a week, if at all. A brave little group of lawyers has a three year-old lawsuit pending against the U.S. government to try to stop this double taxation of our inventors. See for details.

Congress has proposed doubling the patent fees for small inventors while IBM gets a modest 30% increase. This increase of federal fees alone is a good way to chase entrepreneurial Americans away from the U.S. Patent system entirely, thereby facilitating the theft of ideas from America’s small businesses and entrepreneurs. Has corporate America purchased the Presidency and the Congress lock, stock and barrel?

As to the U.S. Supreme Court and President Reagan’s CAFC, they have been lobbied into destroying the doctrine of equivalents. The doctrine of equivalents was created in 1850 by the U.S. Supreme Court to give stretch to simple words that inevitably fail to fully capture the essence of a new technical creation like a John Deere plow. So when we sued Wal-Mart for patent infringement for copying a searchlight (the Golight case reported by the Wall Street Journal on April 19, 2004) only claim 11 survived out of the entrepreneur’s fourteen claims. Good work to our top judges! They have created a blueprint for (mostly foreign) copyists to steal American technology, add a pinch of lime and avoid the U.S. Patent system! Of course, the results are lost American middle class jobs, wherein the wealthy shareholders of corporate America reap the same profits by owning an interest (tax free) of foreign knockoff artist factories. If this trend continues, the consumer purchasing power of America will dwindle along with the loss of jobs. At some point America will be in a depression, and the wealthy corporate shareholders will buy up all the foreclosures, banks, and smaller companies. International cartels will brazenly own the U.S. Presidency, Congress, and Courts, and the American middle class will perish.

My simple suggestions toward revising this process include:

stop theft of Patent Office funds;

keep doctrine of equivalents protected by a Congressional statute;

mandatory triple damages and attorney fees against large companies who steal small business ideas;

personal liability of officers and directors of all firms for all acts of idea theft (patent, trademark, copyright, trade secret);

mandatory product labeling showing any child labor used in a U.S. product, under penalty of felony for false advertising;

first to file patent law to avoid large firms filing copycat patents to steal an idea from a small business (a common practice by corporate America);

federally-supported patent lawyer insurance policy to enable small businesses to protect themselves from the Enron’s in the idea theft business;

simplified six-month to Trial patent court established in each federal appeals circuit;

cabinet-level advisor to the U.S. President whose public purpose is to strengthen the American entrepreneur’s rights pursuant to the U.S. Constitution.

As a footnote, the demise of the U.S. middle class may be irreversible, given the power of organized international money and control of the media and key governmental policy makers. My experience fighting for the rights of over 1000 entrepreneurs over 20 years gives me a certain limited expertise on how to improve the U.S. Patent system. Since 90% of patent attorneys are paid by corporate America, my voice, even when coupled to the few hundred patent lawyers who work for American entrepreneurs, is small. Upon graduation from law school in 1985 at age 40, I was a speaker for the National Academy of Science on much-needed tort reform. Nothing has happened at the federal level since then. Will this small voice also perish for this patent reform plea?

Rick Martin

cc: Bonnie Kaake, RMIC
Tony Kindelspire, Daily Times-Call

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