Interesting Things You Should Know About Patents

Patenting is a rather complex field that may seem dull and uninspiring. However, quite a few interesting developments occur in it from time to time, especially in regards to patent disputes.

Here is a short list of peculiar facts about patents that will make you see this field with a new perspective:

  • There are “trolls” in patenting. Every person who uses social networks today must have encountered a “troll” at some point. They are extremely obnoxious and annoying people whose only goals in life seems to be goading others into arguments. A “patent troll” is a company that patents some invention for the sole purpose of suing others for supposed violations of their rights. These lawsuits slow down the progress and cost American businesses around $29 billion a year. Some policies and laws are currently being developed to make the very existence of “patent trolling” impossible.
  • Some patents are really silly. Apparently, being sensible isn’t a necessary requirement for a patentable object. History has some examples of patents that can only be described as silly. For example, there is a patented method of swinging on a swing, a case for bananas, a face-mask that prevents eating, a gerbil shirt, and the list just goes on.
  • The real American patent boom occurred between 1915 and 1916. In 2011, the U.S. Patent Office granted approximately 120,000 patents. This may seem like a lot, but this number is merely a drop in the ocean when compared to the statistics of 1915-1916. During these two years, the Patent Office granted about 400 patents per person. Please note that the population of America at that time was around 100,000,000.
  • Patents are expensive. The average price of a patent is approximately $500,000. Some patents can cost up to $1,000,000. The funny thing is that despite the fact that people are willing to make these large payments to get the desired document, many of them allow their patents to expire after the initial four year period. The reason behind this is their refusal to pay the $900 yearly maintenance fee.
    • There is a much better and cheaper alternative to patents. Declaring your invention to be a trade secret can be more beneficial than patenting it. In this case, the object will be protected by employment law and nondisclosure agreements. Unlike a patent that will expire in a few years, a trade secret can remain a secret in perpetuity unless it is breached by one of the parties. If this happens, the person responsible for the leak will face charges of corporate espionage and breach of confidentiality.
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