IP Thoughts
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IP Thoughts

Time to Get Busy with Patent Filings

A little over a year ago Congress passed one of the most substantial changes to Patent law since the Constitution.  The U.S. has been a "first to invent" country - almost the only country in the world to maintain the right of the first person to invent to obtain a patent.  The theory was that small inventors may take longer to reduce their inventions to practice, so they should not be deprived of a patent by companies who can pour substantial research budgets into an invention who reduce to practice and file a patent application first.  Thus, an inventor who conceived of the invention first but took longer to reduce it to practice/file a patent application could still obtain the patent by demonstrating prior conception.

On March 16, 2013, the U.S. changes to a "first inventor to file" system.  Under the new law, the first inventor to file a patent application will generally be entitled to a patent.  Thus, an inventor who conceived of an invention in March of 2012 and was been trying to get it to work properly could lose out to a person who invented in March of 2013 and immediately filed a patent application.

Additionally, there are situations where even filing first will not guarantee priority for the patent.  For example, if an inventor files a patent application after another inventor has publicly disclosed the invention, the prior disclosure can prevent the issuance of the patent.  Thus, it is increasingly important to file at least a good provisional patent application as soon as possible.

If you have an invention you have been working on for a while, it is strongly advised that you get an application filed prior to March 16, 2013 so that you can rely on your date of conception if needed, and not be tied to the filing date of your application.  Otherwise, you may find that a later inventor get the patent.

I'm Back

A little over a year ago I took a break from Blogging.  The lack of any real leadership in Washington and the inability to stop spending our children's future was driving me nuts.  More than a year later, I could repost my last blog with virtually no edits.  Thus, I will attempt to focus more on IP issues until the American people appreciate that you cannot borrow your way to prosperity. 

Have We All Gone Insane?

As I have watched the debate about the debt ceiling, I am wondering if nearly all of our politicians have gone insane.  For that matter, I am starting to worry about the American people.  Do we really not care that we are destroying our economy for our children?

If you were an investor, would you lend to the following individual?

He owns a company that nets $1.5 Million a year, but he has $1.4 Million in debt.   The business currently nets $220,000, but his is spending $370,000 a year.  He as agreed to cut his spending to $350,000 per year ($9,000 of the cut to be identified now and the other $11,000 some time in the next six months). 

It does not sound like a great investment does it?  

Oh, one other thing.  He was also given $250,000 in money for a aging relatives.  He agreed to hold the money and pay additional living expenses and medical care for his relatives.  He had originally put it in a saving account, but he decided to lend all of the money to his company in exchange for IOUs.

That is pretty much what is happening with our Federal Government.  Spending has been out of control for the past 10 years and there is no sign of it getting better.  Even with the budget deal worked out in Congress, by 2021 the debt will be $21,000,000,000,000.   That is nearly $70,000 for every man, woman and child in the United States.  Who is going to pay it back?  Not the people who are collecting social security.   Not the 47% of Americans who pay no Federal income tax.

As de Tocqueville noted: "A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover they can vote themselves largess out of the public treasury."

Patent Attorney/Electrical Engineer/Computer Science

Bateman IP Law Group has a position open for an electrical engineer or computer science patent attorney.  If you know anyone who might want to come back to Utah and join an IP firm ranked Tier 1 by U.S. News, please let me know.  www.batemanip.com

Comment Spam

One of the things that has encouraged me to get back to my blog has been comment spam.  I receive alot of comments that tell me how wonderful my posts are or what a good writer I am.  However, in most of these comments there is nothing that suggests that the person submitting the comment has even been reading the blog.  Unfortunately, there are many who try to up their own website's visibility by posting flattering comments like "Wow! what a great blog" on a hundred different blogs hoping to get link backs.  (It is particularly apparent when the same person has made the exact same statement multiple times.) 

Getting complements is always nice.  However, comment spam just clutters the conversation.  Thus, I do not accept the "great post" type of comments unless their are 1) from someone who I know follows the blog (in which case I truly appreciate the compliment) or 2) there is something in addition that furthers the discussion.  "Your blog is great" will get deleted, while "That was a great post.  I have been facing a similar situation . . . " will.  Likewise, comments that take a contrary position will also be accepted as long as they are respectful.  (I am one of those people who believes that you can disagree without being disagreeable - a view which is apparently losing ground on the net.)  Attacking my position or that of anyone commenting contributes to the marketplace of ideas.  Attacking the person making the comment does not.

So a word to SEO types.  I will gladly accept your comment - just make sure it adds to the discourse.

Getting back in the groove

There is a old saying that "three weeks makes a habit."  Unfortunately last year I decided to take a month off of blogging because I was a little overwhelmed with work and family responsibilities.  Well, not blogging became a habit and I got pretty good at it.  However, with the new year, it is time to get back in the groove and discuss the law, politics and anything else that puts a burr under my saddle.

Is Dell Trying to Self-Destruct?

Every once in a while you have to take a look at a company and wonder if it is trying to self-destruct.  I think Dell is a prime candidate for the Darwin Awards.

For the last 4 years my firm has been buying Dell computers.  We have bought 12-15.  It was easy to get on line, build what you wanted and get it delivered in a fairly short order.  Well, that was the old Dell.  The new Dell is trying to make sure customers do not come back.

About 2 months ago I decided it was time to order a new laptop.  The ADAMO looked pretty good.  It is very thin and had good reviews.  So I put in an order.  Well, at least I tried to.  It turns out that Dell has assigned a representative to handle our account.  What does that mean?  It meant it took 4 telephone calls, 2 days and over 30 minutes on hold to talk to our representative so we could place the order.  Dell would not allow us to simply order on the phone like individual customer could.  O.K. so we finally got it ordered.  When it arrived, it looked pretty good - well except that the cd/dvd drive (which is separate) was "pearl" and the compute was black.  O.K. so we had to send the drive back to get the proper color. 

So I finally had my new machine.  The batter life was much shorter than advertised.  I got about 2.5 hours, which is not great when it is a built in battery.

I decided I could live with the short batter life. Would by an external that would plug in.  However, before I could order the external battery, the ADAMO crashed.  We are talking EPIC FAIL.  It would not even reboot.  Yes the solid state drive - looks like it was not that solid.  It appears that the computer also had major heat problems. 

Well what do you do with a new dead computer?  You call to get it replaced.  Due to demand they told me it would take just over a week to get the new one shipped.  Fortunately, I had been too busy to clean off my old lap top - and it has been in use ever since.  Unfortunately, shortly before the first ship date I was notified that the ship date had been delayed.  I got the same message just before the second scheduled ship date.  Now, three weeks later, I do not even have a ship date on a replacement.  I do however, get a call every couple days from a nice young lady in India ensuring me that they are doing their best to meet my urgent need.

I recently looked at a service that gave consumer rankings for websites.  Dell.com got a 1.6/10.  Can a company with such poor customer service be around long?   If I owned any Dell stock, I think now would be a good time to sell.

So, if you are looking for a new laptop, I would definitely recommend skipping the ADAMO, unless you want a nice looking paperweight.  As for me, I think I will try the MACBOOK PRO.

Unintended Consequences

One of the problems when Congress acts is that they often do not look at the unintended consequences.  In the rush to do something to regulate the banks who help create our current financial mess, they are proposing regulations that will adversely affect financial institutions that had nothing to do with the meltdown.  A prime example is USAA.  USAA is an organization that is open to members of the military and their children.  It provides banking, insurance and a host of other services.  It is consistently rated among the best run financial companies.  Unfortunately, the current financial reform bill will interfere with that.  The following is an email I received from USAA earlier this week.

Dear Mr. Bateman:

Rarely in our 87-year history have we turned to USAA members to weigh in with elected representatives on an issue of great importance. But, we are now.

The U.S. Senate currently is considering legislation (S.3217) that would impose new rules on the nation's financial services industry, including USAA.

As the leading provider of financial services to America's military community, USAA supports financial services reform.

However, the current Senate bill would disproportionally impact USAA because we are a unique and fully integrated association. USAA is not like the banks and other companies that helped bring down our economy, and we never took a penny of TARP funds. We do not engage in the harmful practices this legislation seeks to resolve.

If unchanged, the bill would:

  • Prevent USAA from managing the association's portfolio as we have for the past 87 years.
  • Jeopardize our ability to continue offering many of our competitive products.
  • Limit our ability to return money to our members. Last year, USAA returned $1.2 billion to our members in the form of distributions, dividends, and bank rebates and rewards.*

So, we are asking all USAA members and employees to urge their U.S. senators to amend a portion of the bill, known as the "Volcker Rule," to eliminate its effect on a company like USAA. Please know that this legislation does not impact individual member's investments.

Regardless of the outcome of the legislation, USAA will remain a unique and enduring association that's all about you — the military and their families.

Please take action on this matter by immediately contacting your U.S. senator. You may click here to access a special website that will enable you to quickly send an e-mail message to your senator.

Thank you for your help and support,
Joe Robles Signature
Josue (Joe) Robles Jr.
Major General, USA (Ret.)
President and CEO

One of the problems with passing laws in response to problems is that they often penalize those who are trying to play by the rules and are ignored by those who are not.  One thing that the government ought to try is going after firms under current rules or carefully drafting rules to apply to the misbehavior rather than penalizing the companies that play it straight.

Utah Genius 2 Weeks Away

The Second Annual Utah Genius awards are now just two weeks away.  The awards are designed to recognize those who are making prolific contributions to our creative economy.  Sheri Dew of Deseret Book is the lifetime achievement honoree.  Awards are also given for Utah's Top 20 Inventors for 2009, Utah Top 20 Companies by Patents Issued to Utah Inventors, the top cities by number of patents and Utah's Top 20 Trademark Registrants.

  Governor Herbert is providing opening remarks and Doug Fabrizio is the Keynote Speaker

For more info check out Utah Genius

Robbing Peter to Pay Paul

"A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul."  This quote by George Bernard Shaw takes on new meaning when you look at the recent statistics about American taxpayers.  Forty-seven percent (47%) of households pay no Federal Income tax and forty percent (40%) of households actually get money back, offsetting whatever they pay in Social Security taxes.  (It is hard to understand how Pres. Obama will keep his promise to lower taxes for the bottom fifty percent (50%) other than simply sending everyone making less than $50,000 a year a check courtesy of the evil rich people.

Those evil rich people, the top ten percent (10%) of income earners, refuse to pay their fair share.   After all, they only pay seventy-three percent (73%) of all income taxes.  So much for the oft repeated lie that the middle class is bearing an unfair tax burden.

It may sound good at first to be able to have the upper 10% pay all of the taxes.  I mean, why steal when you can get the government to take it for you.  The problem arises in that those who are truly rich can vote with their feet.  New York found this out when it passed a "millionaires tax" to raise extra revenue.  For some reason the revenue did not pan out like New York had hoped.  Rather than pay the additional taxes, a large number of millionaires decided to move to sunny Florida and other states with lower taxes.  Not only did New York lose out on the taxes, it also lost jobs as these millionaires relocated their companies to more business friendly environments.

For decades the U.S. has benefited from wealthy Europeans relocating to the U.S. to avoid high rates of taxation in the countries of origin.  The problem is that while the U.S. is now advocating even greater taxes on the rich, many European countries and cutting taxes.  Are we setting up a scenario to reverse the flow of capital.   To paraphrase Margaret Thatcher - The problem with Socialism is that sooner or later you run out of other people's money.

Can you imagine what it would happen if for one year the top ten percent (10%) decided to defer enough income to reduce their taxes by fifty percent.  It is not that hard for someone making $350,000 to defer $110,000 in income and drop out of the top tax bracket.  In fact one wealthy American during the great depression arranged his finances to pay no taxes for several years at the height of the Depression to protest Pres. Roosevelt's confiscatory taxes.  If it happened on a widespread scale, Pres. Obama could go down in history as the first President to have a $1 Trillion deficit and the first to have a $2 Trillion deficit.