My personal experience in industry leads me to believe that intellectual property, and patents in particular, are widely misunderstood if they are understood at all.
The engineers tend to know that patents are a great achievement that go on the resume, but cannot articulate which ideas are patentable, especially with regard to what is not obvious and unique. Often, the gifted engineer might think that his elegant solution to a complex problem is ‘obvious’ after he created it, but he does not realize what a breakthrough it truly is.
The business managers, and even some of them assigned to the patent review committees, sometimes do not fully appreciate the business uses for patents. Because they don’t know how to use them, they cannot identify or classify an innovative idea. I witnessed several of my own inventions go down the drain by untrained and uninformed patent reviewers who didn’t know what to make of the ideas.
As part of my practice, I spend a great deal of time educating my clients so that they can make good business decisions and identify and describe the best inventions to protect their business.
Many of the ways I do things reflect the deficiencies and strengths of my employers in industries as varied as aerospace, electronics manufacturing, and consumer products.
There is nothing more refreshing than to work with a talented, patent-savvy client who deftly manages their IP portfolio. I am very grateful to have several such clients.