I had thought about this, but here's my view right now:Originally Posted by aaron
Yes, a patent is only as good as its defense. For varying degrees of patent quality and degree of infringement, obviously there isn't a best choice that fits all possibilities.
However, one good thing about lawyer arrangements such as the ambulance chasers employ, is that you don't need to pay up front. If you have a patent, and it is being clearly infringed, I do believe that it would be possible to find competent lawyers willing to work based on their ability to win (and a share thereof).
Also, there isn't a law firm associated in the patent itself. All that's in the patent is the language of the patent and its inventors. The language is the issue - experienced law firms who do a lot of patent litigation - as well as research on what other cases involve - probably have a much stronger understanding on the chances of winning in an outright patent court dispute, as well as a stronger knowledge on successful wording in patents. I think this is less relevant if you're patenting something very specific, but extremely relevant if you're trying to patent an entire field. Trying to patent a wheelbarrow or a wheel based transport device is much easier to write and defend than patenting all wheel based technology.
Another point is that having a patent doesn't mean you necessarily have to fight. For an individual, having a big corporation cough up a cross licensing fee would likely be a better outcome for both sides rather than a knock-down, drag out courtroom battle. It is primarily in cases like Samsung vs. Apple you see these - because in these cases Apple doesn't want to cross-licensing fees, it wants to exclude Samsung from Apple's core market.
In my particular case - as I'm going to be putting what I am inventing out there in the public eye via a Kickstarter project, the act of doing so makes it impossible to patent later on. Thus I think there's no reason not to at least try and protect what I'm going to announce, even if by not ponying up the big bucks - I may miss secondary opportunities.
Leery of Google and other big name internet/tech companies - I share your concern.Originally Posted by shiny
The search itself, however, does not reveal what you are patenting unless you search for a word-for-word description of the process/object/idea in question.
Also, even should Google know what you've searched for, the patent process is still 'first to file'. Thus unless Google filed a patent (or provisional patent) before you, their knowing what you searched for only helps if they know exactly what you're patenting and beat you to the punch. In the case of the domain squatters - the cost and effort to squat is very low. These guys basically hook up a dictionary to an automated query engine, then buy masses of domain names. I'd bet someone who buys thousands of domain names pays even less than the already low price we as consumers would.
A patent application is more expensive, time consuming, and equally the value of the patent is dependent on the quality of the writing. I'm no expert, but I can tell you that writing these 2 patents has taken me well over 3 weeks thus far between the searching for prior art, the reading of potentially relevant prior art examples, and the learning of a new language: patentese.
The thought process is also non-trivial: as I noted before, the objective of writing the patent is to map out as much of the relevant space as possible. What this really means is that you have to try and figure out all the ways someone might try to copy your idea's functionality without precisely copying it, and exclude those ways in the patent.
A simple example: If you have A+B+C = your device, but you don't preclude the possibility of A+B with a cable to C, then theoretically A+B with a cable to C would be one way by which you could be copied.