Monday, May 11, 2015

Quality Matters

(Image via Businesstown in Instagram)

There is a saying in the technology sales world that, "Sales solves all problems."  Basically what the means is that when you have a real customer paying real money for your product, that you stop focusing on tangential things and start focusing on what you need to make that sale and that customer a success. Patent quality does the same thing in the world of IP.  Quality patents solve all problems. 

Everyday I am bombarded by emails on the need to fix the patent system. A relentless stream of articles many by people who don't know how important patents are in our innovation economy or who haven't had someone abscond with the fruits of their labor, yet. 

At the recent BIOTECHNOLOGY Partnership meeting at USPTO Robert Stoll, former Commissioner for Patents at the United States Patent and Trademark Office, opined on the subject. As usual he crystallized the patent quality impact in a few sentences. (Paraphrased from my notes.)

"First, licensing patents is a legitimate enterprise. Why are we spending so much time on this legitimate activity?"

"Quality patents removed uncertainty and mutes the arguments in patent trolls."

Quality patents clearly disclose what the patent covers, the boundaries of the ownership of the patented invention and who has an interest in it.  Consider the U.S. Navy. The IP tech transfer folks routinely is the field for the government interest statement to publish the contact information on how to reach then if you'd like a license. Bravo Zulu to them. 

Better claim construction, better glossaries, better bibliographic and geographic data, and perhaps most important quality ownership and real party in interest data are game changers. 

Patent quality is a two way street.  USPTO needs the resources and support to make patent quality improvements a reality beyond public outreach with everyone nodding in unison that quality is an important issue. USPTO needs more folks to support their efforts to improve quality if there is any hope of fixing the patent system and letting the patent prognosticators move on to a new topic.