Jim's Story (Bad Patent Advice)

All emotions accepted.

When starting Subtense, I collected and stored motivations from anywhere and everywhere knowing I would need to draw on different emotions

A happy story to tell a new prospect, a telling story to communicate complexity, and stories to tell myself in rare low moments.

One out of every 23 mornings it might take a moment to remember why I wanted to dismantle the patent ecosystem's asininity, why I wanted to pound against a monolith.

When it took longer than 11 minutes to slip into a productive state staring at a blinking cursor waiting for code to flow, I brought out my intentionally dormant emotional broadsword: vengeful, rageful wrath.

If the ecosystem floods with horrible patents making the system more asinine, who benefits?

Jim's Story

Imagine turning commonplace algae into fuel.

Jim not only imagined it but also built the damned thing to make it possible. (Or part of it, at least.)

In his basement, semi-retired, he spent time tinkering, turning his career in [bioengineering] into a solution for humanity's future.

And it worked.

Well enough to know to call a patent attorney for advice and to get a booth at an upcoming tradeshow.


Responsible, professional, and ethical, Jim handed over search terms for the due diligence phase of the process.

The patent attorney gave the standard advice every non-in-house attorney I interviewed in 2.5 years gave: Do not perform a search and risk invalidating your patent.

[The official term is searching for "prior art" which means any document (drawing, writing) describing the same concept.]

Jim followed the advice of his $425/hr patent attorney's professional advice.

$60,000 in patent attorney's fees and 8 months later, at the tradeshow, standing behind the world premiere of his new invention, Jim's proud smile turned to confusion when attorneys from a potential rival handed him an official document to knock it off.

The document explained he violated their patents.

And he was in violation, as any search would show, especially a search with the search terms he handed to his patent attorney.

His attorney preached the near ubiquitous, hyper-unethical mantra of non-in-house patent attorneys: willfully stay ignorant.

If Jim sat in his attorney's office and performed the search in front of him, Jim would not have lined the attorney's pocket with $60,000 unrecoverable dollars and lost 8 months of his life.

[I would argue attorneys who give this advice know full well of their villainous duplicity.]

Listen for this phrase then run: "It's the Patent Examiner's responsibility to search."

Don't Build Your Home on a Burial Ground

This advice and behavior drives the fundamental corruption of the patent ecosystem, and a core reason patents, already expensive, continue to grow more asinine.

The more convoluted and arcane the patent ecosystem, the more you "need" patent attorney (according to patent attorneys).

If the ecosystem floods with horrible patents making the system more asinine, who benefits?

Funny you should ask. Turns out patent attorneys benefit because...

1) It takes longer to get through the first part—turning your idea into a patent—so an attorney can bill for more hours.


2) When the ecosystem is messy, there are more cases to prosecute and defend. So, not just more hours to bill, these incidents create the astronomical court costs of Apple fighting Samsung you read about in the business section.

For an hourly billing culture, name anything more self-serving than clouding the system you supposedly navigate.

Who benefits when you practice willful ignorance? Not you.