Whilst not wanting to extend patent protection by an arbitrary amount, one solution would be to give the inventor a choice at the point of filing between a standard 20-year patent, and a break-even patent.
A break-even patent would last until the inventor recovered all costs associated with the original invention an commercialisation, subject to the following criteria:
- The cost and revenue information would be required to be published
- The financial reports would have to be audited by an independent auditor, the fees of whom would not be costs counted towards the break-even
- The inventor must take reasonable steps to commercialise (e.g. accepting offers of support for further development and commercialisation). A key feedback mechanism is that a potential purchaser of the technology could file to have the patent invalidated if the inventor is not progressing with development him or herself, or willing to licence.
- The patent application costs would not count towards the break-even