James Dyson Criticises Complicated Patent System

Patent System Out of Control

There is an ongoing war or words in the press with the US Patents System at the centre of the maelstrom. A series of high profile cases has led to barrage of blog comments and press articles directed at the system which has been described as spiralling out of control.

Posner Joins Conflict

This summer legendary US Circuit Court judge Richard Posner waded into the continuing conflict between the IT industry giants Apple and Google. As the pair prepared to do battle over the Google owned Motorola Mobility smartphone patents, Posner took to the blogosphere posting that he was inclined to dismiss the case with prejudice, indicating that he would throw the case out of court without any chance of the pair returning to the fray over the same item again.

Big Companies Manipulating the System

The case has highlighted the growing concern that big companies are manipulating the patent system to the clear disadvantage of smaller companies. Posner, who sits on the influential 7th Circuit Court of Appeal did not mince his words in ridiculing the patent arguments put forward by both sides. He described Apple’s argument that “A tap is a zero length swipe” as “Silly”. In his balanced commentary he also described Motorola’s counter argument as “Ridiculous”.

Stinging Rebuke for Patent System

In a scything attack on the American society in general and the patent system in particular Poster lashed out on a blog that he shares with US economist Gary Becker. To be fair not much escaped criticism in his stinging rebuke of the systems for healthcare, education, taxes and local government. He concluded stating, “We have … a dysfunctional patent system, and growing economic inequality that may soon create serious social tensions.”

His thoughts were echoed by another Judge James Robart criticising Motorola, stating; “The court is well aware that it is being played as a pawn in a global industry-wide business negotiation.”

james dyson

Photo source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/evarinaldiphotography/8487825747/

Dyson Joins Debate

The latest voice to join in the chorus of critics is that of the inventor of the ‘bagless’ vacuum cleaner, James Dyson, who recently made a plea to the government to make it easier for smaller companies to protect the designs for their products.

In an opening speech at a Dyson ‘incubator’ for design-based start-ups, the inventor outlined the potential cost for defending a patent. Stating that this figure could quickly get up to £3m, he illustrated how small companies are being pushed out of the race and showed the ease by which larger institutions can purloin inventions from smaller businesses.

Call for Clarity

Dyson is no stranger to defending patent lawsuits, and has an expert knowledge of the patent system. Highlighting the frailty of the structure he explained, “The system does not support design and patent holders. It’s grossly unfair.”

Calling for greater equality and clarity Dyson pleaded, “The government must act to simplify the system. Patents are expensive to file in the first place. Then you’ve got renewal fees – there’s no other walk of life where you lose your rights on your work of art if you fail to ‘renew’ it. And then the costs of actually fighting a case are out of this world.”

For information on how to patent, see Innovate Design.

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