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I have an Invention ... Now What?
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   invention advice?
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JimIvey
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Re: invention advice?
« Reply #5 on: Nov 16th, 2005, 5:08pm »
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These questions are getting far afield from what I do professionally, but I'll try to offer a perspective.
 
Most patent owners aren't out to punish people.  They just want to be the sole supplier of their invention(s) or they just want a reasonable piece of the market they created.  Punitives typically come after you've been asked nicely (or not so nicely) to stop infringing and you ignore them.  The measure of damages for patent infringement is a reasonable royalty or, in some cases lost profits, from the time you knew or should have known about the patent -- or up to the most recent 6 years of infringing activity.
 
Licenses can cover a royalty for past infringing activity, but not necessarily -- some licenses can be forward looking only.  Each case is negotiated on its own merits.
 
As for after a sale of the company, I would think the company would be on the hook for infringement rather than you personally, but that's not necessarily the case.  If you form your company before you begin something that turns out to be infringing and you do all your infringing activity working for the company, there's a good chance the company would be liable and not you.  That's all way beyond IP law -- and probably depends on the particular language of the contract by which you sell your company.
 
The bottom line is that there is risk in everything you do.  Is it possible that the French will find things traded on your system objectionable and try to fine you substantial sums and put you in jail.  Yeah, it's possible.  They did it to ebay, or was it google?  Is it possible that some fundamentalist islamic organization will find objectionable content traded on your system and call for your assassination?  Maybe.  Not likely, but not altogether impossible.  Patent liability is just one of the risks you'd face.
 
From what I understand, many companies operate with a fair degree of impunity until they start to see annual revenues of about 200 million dollars.  Then, people start showing up with patents and palms extended to receive their royalties.  It will be unpleasant, to be sure.  But it will be something your company should survive.
 
I hope that helps.
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James D. Ivey
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Re: invention advice?
« Reply #6 on: Nov 17th, 2005, 2:41am »
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I'm sorry to interrupt with a question out of topic, but it is killing me to know (killing, not used as a verb, sorry JimIvey). Wesley Feinstein, you motioned you found a patent that was similar to your, but was in "the application appears to be still in the 2nd round of "Claim => Non Final rejection". I thought pending patent applications were not able to be seen by the public. If so, then that means the 18 months until an application is made public also applies to applications in the process (passing the 18 mon. period)?
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JimIvey
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Re: invention advice?
« Reply #7 on: Nov 17th, 2005, 10:05am »
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Once an application is published, anyone can view the entire contents of the file -- rejections by the examiner, responses by the applicant, etc.
 
Regards.
 
P.S.  For what it's worth, I'm pretty sure "killing" is okay as a noun and as a verb.
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James D. Ivey
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