Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 8th Oct 2012 09:24 UTC
Legal The failing US patent system is getting ever more mainstream - The New York Times is running a long and details piece on the failings of the system, especially in relation to the technology industry most of us hold so dearly. Most of the stuff in there isn't new to us - but there's two things in the article I want to highlight.
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Personal experience
by ingraham on Tue 9th Oct 2012 03:59 UTC
ingraham
Member since:
2006-05-20

My company designed, built, and sold a machine, in the field of automated material handling. Our competitor had machines in the same plant where our machine ended up. They looked at our machine and felt that it infringed one of their patents. They were quite wrong; they completely misunderstood how our machine worked. Their patent was over two side-by-side belts moving at different speeds so that product conveyed on the belt would rotate to compensate for the angle the entire machine was rotated at. They saw that our machine had two belts and jumped to conclusions. In fact, our belts could not be driven at different speeds; they were both on the same drive shaft with no clutches or gears or any other way to separate them. Their lawyers sent us a letter. Our lawyer sent a letter back that said, "No, you misunderstood how our machine works." End of story.

You know what it cost to have our lawyer write that letter? Ten thousand US dollars. And we have a lawyer who is relatively inexpensive for his quality and level of expertise.

By the way, should it really be patentable to have two side-by-side belts run at different speeds to cause rotation? Isn't that essentially how tank treads work, even though that's upside down from a conveyor application?

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