In order to protect our thoughts and ideas, we write, issue, and publish patents. With that in mind, you can see why sometimes it's a race to be first or best to market. But the bigger race is making your product protected and unique in such a way that no other person or company can touch it. If you do this and do it right, you can make the competition stop in their tracks. They will have to find a variation in their approach — or maybe just start again on the design.
To be clear, in no way do I mean to disparage or downgrade the value of patents — I have had seven published. However, I wonder whether companies and individuals in our country tend to over-patent. I don't recall for sure which country leads in patents issued and published. It's probably the United States — and most likely because we are a technology leader and have the most engineers.
My concern is that we tend to patent anything and everything, even ideas we know have little chance of turning into a produced device. We all know it's not cheap to get these patents through. In spite of the cost, we tend to go on patent frenzy when a new project starts. In some cases, patents seem to be written a dozen different ways for the same idea. We just use some really creative writing.
Maybe I am just missing a major point to why we patent our ideas, but I wonder what percentage of ideas were really ever used (i.e., actually ended up as a marketed product). Do we use our ability to patent as a marketing tool? Is it done just to promote or make our companies look good? We can say we had this many patents written and accepted and put up a note on the company website.
I just watched a commercial of someone who has three published patents for his water hose design. You may all have seen the hose that expands and contracts. I am wondering why the design needs multiple patents. Is it that complicated?
I just want to know others' opinions on whether the majority of our patents are good legitimate ideas, or do we just flood the technology world with a bunch of cool words? Let me know with your comments, below.