Thanks to @ipwatchdog for tweeting this week about the pitfalls of inventors representing themselves and the USPTO effectively advancing “submarine patents” through Patent Office delay.
“Inventors who represent themselves always wind up with rights more narrow than they should.”
@ipwatchdog makes two points I would like to comment on:
First, when the USPTO causes long delays for an unpublished patent application, it essentially creates a “submarine patent.” The problem with “submarine patents” is that when issued, it forces companies already using the newly patented technology to pay retroactive licensing or rights fees. US Patent No. 7,631,368, was a pending application out of the public eye for about five years before it issued.
The second point is that the patent claim is so darn long and “narrow” because it has so many elements, it would be almost impossible for anyone to infringe upon it. Therefore making it not only a “submarine patent” but a “wallpaper patent” as well, essentially having no value. The only thing it is good for is to hang it on the wall. The submarine was sunk by the heavy load of elements in the claim.
Inventors should know…
The lesson here is, make sure you are represented by a registered patent attorney or agent that knows how to draft broad claims.