Sunday, 1 February 2015

Break-even patents

One of the problems with the existing patent system is that the clock starts ticking towards expiry of the patent as soon as the patent is filed, despite the fact that the inventor may need to invest significantly more time before the resulting product can be commercialised.

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

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