"Prickly Profits"

IAM (Intellectual Asset Management) Magazine, Feb./March 2004 issue - "Prickly Profits," by Bruce Berman [excerpt] - Dr. Poltorak is quoted discussing the patent system's fairness or unfairness to small inventors.

Mr. Berman's article quotes Dr. Poltorak on the rights conferred on a patent owner by the patent office.

"IP may be sold, bought, pledged and traded just like any other asset," says Dr. Alexander Poltorak, CEO of General Patent Corporation, which represents independent inventors and smaller patent owners. "In economic terms, a patent is not really a monopoly but rather a public franchise. It is the single largest incentive for innovation. The patent system is inherently unfair to the small inventors. The right to exclude, i.e. to bring a legal action for patent infringement, does not come cheaply. With the average cost of patent litigation in the US in excess of US$2 million and as high as US$5 million the right to enforce is a theoretical concept of little value to many inventors."

Contrary to popular belief, says Poltorak, patents do not give the right to practice the patented invention. Instead, he explains, they provide the right to exclude others from practicing the patented invention. "As far as the patent law is concerned, there is no difference between paper patents owned by an inventor (those that protect inventions that inventors do not practice themselves), and patents held by large corporations,” Poltorak says. "Patents are nothing more than a license to sue. Enabling small inventors to enforce their patents is the greatest incentive for all innovators. This inspires invention but also forces large companies with significant R&D commitments to pay attention to all patents and either license or design around them. Frequently, this leads to more and better innovation - the intention of the patent system in the first place."