Will the 2012 SHIELD Act STOP the Patent Trolls?

Patent trolls, technically referred to as non-practicing entities (NPEs), are people who file outrageous patent lawsuits that often threaten the viability of the firms they attack.  Patent trolls are major thorns for America’s small tech companies, and combined to cost some of those companies over $29 Billion dollars in 2011 alone.

One Oregon Democrat, Representative Peter DeFazio decided to bring this costly and underhanded matter to the attention of Congress. In late July, DeFazio and Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) introduced legislation into the U.S. House of Representatives called the Saving High-tech Innovators from Egregious Legal Disputes (SHIELD) Act [PDF].

The bill is designed to discourage NPEs from filing frivolous lawsuits by requiring the Patent Troll to pay the defendants’ legal costs if their suit is unsuccessful.  The key language of the bill seeks “To amend chapter 29 of title 35, United States Code, to provide for the recovery of computer hardware and software patent litigation costs in cases where the court finds the claimant did not have a reasonable likelihood of succeeding, and for other purposes.

Why is this helpful?  Julie Samuels, an attorney who focuses on intellectual property issues at the nonprofit Electronic Frontier Foundation explained that, “Patent litigation has been called ‘the sport of kings’ because of the high cost.  It can cost tens of millions of dollars to defend a suit…while big companies might be able to afford the fees, smaller companies can’t and are left having to pay up and settle.”

Hopefully the 2012 SHIELD Act will turn the thorn on Patent Trolls for good. Rep. Chaffetz said, “The SHIELD Act ensures that American tech companies can continue to create jobs rather than waste resources on fending off frivolous lawsuits.”

Why NOT to use Invent Help Companies like Davidson to Patent Your Invention

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Although their advertisements promise to make it simple to submit an idea, there are a lot of things that companies like Davidson, Invent Help, and other lesser known invention patent “simplifying specialists” do not tell you.  Before diving in and expecting to make millions, consider these important facts:

 

  • For starters, it is virtually impossible to sell or submit an idea to any major company without first filing a patent. Most invent help companies do not protect your idea or invention by filing a patent for you. To protect your invention from the get-go, it is best to try to obtain a patent from the USPTO on your own.  For help with filing a first-time patent, seek the advice of a patent attorney. Be on the lookout: Companies that advertise the ability to file your patent for only $99 are definitely SCAMS and should be avoided altogether.

 

  • Second, most companies will not do a patent search to make sure your invention does not already exist. Invent help companies are in the business to make money, so they don’t necessarily mind taking yours. It is important to pay out of your own pocket for a patent search before deciding to move forward with any invention.  Submitting an idea, only to find out someone has a patent on something very similar, results in lost money and wasted effort.

 

  • Next, the fees for providing inventor services, professional patent illustrations, attorney fees, publicity and submissions to the industry are all additional.  These fees will not be absorbed by any invent help company, and you may actually be charged more than you would by seeking these services on your own. One way or another you will still have to pay for all professional services related to your invention, so why not have control over what you pay to whom?

 

  • Finally, know the statistics.  Invent help services cannot and should never claim to guarantee the success of any product idea. Inventor Spot Forum recently posted these statistics published by one major invent help company:

 “From 2003 to 2005, we signed submission agreements with 6,592 clients. As a result of our services, 119 clients have received license agreements for their products, and 15 clients have received more money than they paid us for these services.”

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Obviously this confirms that a person’s success rate is not guaranteed.

 

Everyone knows that all good things take time, hard work, and dedication.  You are the inventor, so be serious about taking the right steps toward protecting your invention before seeking promotional help from any one of the ideas-made-simple “invent help” companies. If you need professional help illustrating your idea, be sure to contact Inventia Patent Drafting right away!