I went to a Talk by a Patent Attorney (Stephen Fung) the other day (3rd April 2009) about Patents. It was quite interesting. Here are some notes I made.
- Patent examiners work for the government.
- Patent attorneys are not lawyers, they have a science or engineering qualification
A provisional patent can be rubbish, and you can still amend it before you try to get it turned into a full patent. Its used as documentation of the invention at a specific time so that you have evidence and proof that it existed at a specific time.
Patents are a commercial instrument.
Often the venture capitalist will tell the person or company they invest in to file some patents. These people then go to the patent attorney, tell them this is what I’ve done, just file anything.
An interesting thing about patentable material, using the example of say a compression algorithm, the mathematical foundations are not patentable, but if you incorporate that into say a chip, you can patent that and prevent others from implementing the algorithm into chips of their own.
If you have some new invention that you want to try to patent. You may speak with a patent attorney, go through Technology Transfer (eg. New South Innovations), do the patent yourself, do not disclose until you have filed something.
If you copyright your source code it only protects that “creative expression” of the code. So if someone wrote the exact same program in another programming language then you cannot hinder their distribution of that.
If you patent the underlying algorithm then no one can use of implement that algorithm.
“Patent It Yourself” is apparently a good book.