"Nick Leggett", Nickolaus E. Leggett - Independent Inventor
Date: 2/13/02 3:09PM
Subject: Comments Regarding Competition & Intellectual Property Comments Regarding Competition & Intellectual Property
I am an independent inventor holding two U.S. Patents (#3,280,929 and 3,280,930 - on ground effect machines) and I have one patent application on a communications invention currently pending before the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO).
My comments are about how the current patent system inhibits the contributions that independent inventors make to the competitive marketplace. Suggestions for changing this situation are made.
The enforcement of a patent against other parties is a legal process that is widely known to be quite expensive. Most individual inventors who own their patents cannot afford the tens of thousands of dollars that are usually required to conduct legal action against an organization that is infringing on his or her patent.
Since independent inventors are well aware of this basic fact, many of them have decided not to obtain patents on their inventions. Others have decided to drop out of inventing entirely.
This situation is of importance to the economy because independent inventors are often the source of major inventions that represent significant advances from the current technical state of the art. When independents drop out of the patent process, some major inventions are undoubtedly becoming lost to the economy or delayed in being introduced into the marketplace.
This situation also raises questions about the legitimacy of the patent system. If patents are only useful and effective for organizations with large budgets, have patents become an instrument for the rich with the average citizen being fully shut out of the system?
There are several steps that could be taken to correct this problem with the enforcement of independent inventors' patents. Each of the following options should be examined:
- The Justice Department could enforce a selected set of independent inventors' patents. In this approach the Federal Government would take up the financial and legal burden of enforcing an independent inventor's patent against those who are infringing on it. Clearly, the government does not have the budget to enforce all of the independents' patents that are issued. So some form of mechanism would have to be included to select the patents to be enforced. Something as simple as a selection lottery may be satisfactory.
- The Patent and Trademark Office could administer a fund authorized by Congress for assisting independent inventors with the costs of enforcing their patents.
- Independent inventors could have longer patent terms to allow them the time to raise funds for the successful enforcement of their patents.
- Independent inventors could be allowed to keep their issued patent secret for a fixed period of time (of several years) to allow them to raise funds for the defense of their patents.
Currently, the patent system inhibits the individual independent inventor who attempts to develop his or her invention and bring it to market.
Thank you for your attention to my comments and good luck with your work.