While lawyers and judges are the ultimate legal experts, of course, I believe that every citizen should take the time to learn a little about law for several reasons. First, it is important to know your rights, and knowing them can come in handy if anyone ever accuses you of a crime you didn't commit or threatens you legally in another other way. Second, learning about your local, state, and federal laws can help you act as a better citizen. When election time comes around, you can then truly understand ever change in law being proposed by a candidate and whether it benefits society or not. I plan to share posts about law topics explained in plain English on my new blog, so you can come back often to sharpen your legal knowledge!
Developing a new invention or patent can take time and a small amount of resources. For example, if a person wants to create a new tool for use in bicycle repair, he has to take the time to understand the limitations of tools currently on the market. He must then look at what could be done to improve the design of current tools. The person can then come up with the basic idea for a new invention. The inventor must then create and test prototypes in order to refine and improve the original design as necessary. An inventor can spend years and thousands of dollars trying to perfect a new ideas. If someone could come in and arbitrarily take over the inventor's work at this point and claim exclusive right to produce the new product, what incentive would workers have to develop new ideas? Patent law exists to protect an inventor's right to make a profit from his creative efforts.
Strictly speaking, patent law does not grant an inventor the right to make a profit from his or her ideas. Instead, patent law simply prevents other people from seizing on the inventors idea and producing it for themselves. The holder of a patent is thus free to try to produce his or her invention on his or her own. In some cases, inventors lack the means to produce an invention. In which case, an inventor can sell his patent to a company, thus giving them the right to produce the invention. The terms of such a sell are not set in stone. Thus, there is room for a company and an inventor to negotiate and haggle over the exact terms of a contract. The profit that a person can make off of selling a patent thus depends on how much a company wants the patent, and how much an inventor is willing to take for the patent. If you hold a patent that you are interested in selling, you should talk to a patent lawyer for help drawing up and/or reviewing a contract.
If a person holds a patent but does not make any effort to produce the article described in the patent, a second party could potentially petition the government for use of the patent. Thus, if an inventor takes out a patent and then just sits on his or idea, the law allows someone else to step in and take over production. This aspect of patent law exists to prevent people from depriving society of a product that could benefit the masses. The owner of a patent has the ability to contest attempts to take over a patent, but he or she must demonstrate an effort to produce the product described in the patent. Understanding how to contest a patent or how to respond if someone tries to contest a patent that you hold can be tricky. If you have questions or want to make sure you have a sound legal strategy for handling a contested patent, you should work with a lawyer to make sure that your efforts meet with fruition.
Patents exist to promote creativity. People are most apt to try to come up with new products and ideas when they have an incentive to create new ideas. If someone could come in at any time and snatch up your idea and make a profit on it as if it were their own, most people would prefer not to put the effort and energy into creating ideas for someone else to steal. Patent laws grant a patent holder a temporary monopoly on a particular product in order to allow the patent holder to earn back the money he or she put into developing a product and to allow the patent holder to make a product. Patents are an important part of American legal traditions.