Category Archives: invention

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Of patents and prizes, or are your engineers smart enough to invent?

Businesswoman Has Won A TrophyLet’s say you own a business that makes something, whether it’s a software product or a hardware device. Your success depends on filling your customers’ needs better than anyone else. You innovate to make your products better, faster, cheaper. You solve your customers’ problems. That’s what your engineers and coders do. But you’re stuck on … Continue Reading

Patent Incentives, Innovation and Profits

Lucky Architects Celebrating A Success“We’ve run out of big ideas,” the Wall Street Journal wails. The voice of Corporate America paints a bleak picture without offering any path forward. In this article, I will provide a simple formula for innovation, market leadership, sales and profits.… Continue Reading

3 criteria for @realDonaldTrump for new Director of Patent Office

US Capitol dome detail with flagThe President-Elect @realDonaldTrump and his transition team @transition2017 are working on appointments to his new Cabinet. One of the chairs is reserved for the new Secretary of Commerce. Following close on Commerce’s heels will be appointment of a new Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO … Continue Reading

3 steps to patent success

3 Success Steps, Business ConceptIn the last six weeks, as in the last four decades, I have attended intellectual property (IP) and patent litigation conferences across the country and around the world. Many advanced topics for IP/patent lawyers are discussed in detail at these conferences. I often present on such topics myself. But as in many fields, it’s the basics that… Continue Reading

Would you rather win a Nobel Prize or a Patent?

Alfred Nobel Prize centennial US stamp 2001Which would you pick: The Nobel prize or a patent? If you’re like me, your instinctive reaction is to choose the Nobel. Its scarcity, prestige, and certainty of financial reward are unequaled. In this article, we’ll compare the merits of the Nobel award with the value of patents. Alfred Nobel himself will be our primary case … Continue Reading

How long should a patent claim be?

Hand Holding Wooden Folding  RulerHouse counsel for a large software company has written an open letter to me titled Pursuit of Extremely Short Patent Claims. He has thrown down the gauntlet in a public forum. Here’s what he said to me, followed by my response. … Continue Reading

Three Takeaways from Computer Chip Patent Wars

Circuit womanOn April 25, 1961, Robert Noyce, then of Fairchild, was issued U.S. Patent 2,981,877 for the first silicon-based integrated circuit. The earlier-filed patent application of Jack Kilby of Texas Instruments (TI) was still in the queue at the U.S. Patent Office. In the end, Intel would become Fairchild’s heir and boast annual sales of over $50 billion, leaving … Continue Reading

What everyone should know about Apple slide-to-unlock patent vs. Samsung

Slide To UnlockIn the last inning of the Apple-Samsung game of smartphone hardball, Samsung slid into home. Apple failed to make the tag. “Samsung is safe!” cried the umpires. The inning was umpired by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which held Apple’s slide-to-unlock U.S. Patent 8,046,721 invalid. See Apple v. Samsung (Fed. Cir. Feb. 26, 2016). … Continue Reading

How to Profit from Patents While Apple, Samsung Weigh In At Supreme Court

Money making idea. Light bulb with Dollar symbol.The Supreme Court has granted Samsung’s appeal of a $500 million dollar judgment rendered on the latter’s infringement of Apple’s smartphone (iPhone) design patent. If your company owns patents, you may wonder: What effect will Apple-Samsung have on your patent program? More practically, how can you and your company make money on your patents starting now, in the “incubation period” of … Continue Reading

Billion Dollar Lego Patent

Lego logo on boxFifty-eight years ago today, Kirk Godtfred of Lego filed his patent application on the basic building block, literally, of Lego’s billion dollar private fortune. Now, here’s the thing: A patent filed 58 years ago is long expired. The then-standard-17-year term ended in 1978. So how is it that Lego is still the only game in town?… Continue Reading

What should you patent?

WheelhouseIn this part 2 of a series on 4 W’s of patent, we will consider the what of patent, specifically, the reasons to focus on patenting inventions that are “in your wheelhouse.” In this article, we will address three “what” questions: What is a patent? What kinds of inventions should you patent? (Are they in your … Continue Reading

Patent — Picture or 1,000 Words?

Rich Beem, Johnny Kilpatrick & Patco ReelIn a patent, which is better: A picture or 1,000 words? For patent purposes, it’s important to provide considerable detail in drawings and descriptions. Some foresight is required, because support is required as of the filing date for the originally filed claims and for amendments that may become desirable during prosecution. In this article, we will consider … Continue Reading

More Words, Less Patent Clarity

Absolute ClarityThe Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has announced that in her zeal to prevent substandard patents from issuing, she will insist on clarity of the record. Every word of every patent will have to be defined. And every word stated in the patent process—in the give and take (or “prosecution”) between applicant… Continue Reading

Some Kind of Patent Trial

Beem Goes to CourtPatent jury trials reached their zenith in the mid-1990s. The stakes remain high, though the drama has faded. Now, even if it’s called a trial, what you get is “some kind of hearing,” as Judge Henry Friendly once called it in his seminal lecture and law review article. Some kind of hearing: That’s all you can expect in … Continue Reading

Eight Tips to Protect Your Patent and IP in China

Beem and BuddhaLast week, I went to Washington and came back from China. In D.C., I attended the American Intellectual Property Law Association (AIPLA) Annual Meeting, where I met with lawyers and patent attorneys from the U.S., China, and other countries, and I have continued meetings with the Chinese even after returning to my offices in Chicago. … Continue Reading

Samsung loses bid for rehearing in $500 MM patent award to Apple

In my recent blog post, I reported that Samsung, backed by Google and other tech giants, was seeking rehearing of the Federal Circuit’s decision affirming some $500 million in damages to be paid by Samsung to Apple for design patent infringement. Hundreds of breathless reporters wondered whether Samsung would succeed in… Continue Reading
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