I'm trying to design a mechanism that is quite difficult to think through so I'm looking in a mechanism book for some inspiration. Sometimes it takes a while to work out the funtions from just diagrams and I'm wondering if anyone has come across a DVD that shows animations of random mechanisms?
While at potential clients, the other day, they proudly showed me a mechanism they had patented. I thought to myself how can you patent something so simple and obvious, I'm sure given the same design criteria most engineers would arrive at a very similar design. In this particular case I believe someone somewhere is using a very similar mechanism to solve the very same problem but haven't bothered to patent the idea.
When it comes right down to it, a patent is only as good as the money you have to defend it - Just ask Gillette and Schick. In the case mentioned above I believe the patent should never have been granted, if they ever have to defend it some lawyer will be getting a new Porsche.
On Fri, 9 Jun 2006 11:05:50 +1200, "John Layne" most engineers would arrive at a very similar design. In this particular
Your right John - but its more insidious than that. Its not just about defending patents - its about also defending infringements of badly awarded patents.
Say Company A get a patent on a damn obvious design solution.
Company B comes along later and thinks of the same thing and happens to do a patent search which often is not the case - the whole project is put in jepordy because Company B is smaller in size than Company A. It has to make a commercial decision whether to carry on with the design becuase it will cost it money and management time mearly to defend its actions and overturn a plainly bad incorrectly granted patent.
If no patent search is performed because Company B thought the idea so obvious, .....then suddely one day a letter arrives asking them to stop production and threatening legal action etc. It can just be a real bummer as it costs so much in management time and legal fees just to start to defend yourself, even before the lottery of a court case. Its often cheaper to to just redesign and re-tool with a less optimal design solution.
People will argue that Company A will not defend the patent once they get legal advice from independant patent lawyers that their patent is in defensible due to prior art, but that is just not the case, as the their independant patent lawyers are the very people who probably advised a patent was worth filing in the first place.
I have been through this and it pissed me off because the idea was so simple a child could of solved the problem if it had been given the problem - there was no 'innovative leap' required.
I think the root of the problem is that the Patent Offices in the US and Europe are so badly understrength and funded that they just grant anything with the view that the courts will sort it out later. This just plays into the hands of those who have money and want to constrict their smaller competitors by trying to introduce alot of financial uncertainty int their competitors project analysis.
I really think the whole IP area needs re-thinking as it is a throttle on development for so many projects.
The annual patent fees should be made very very high - or lets be radical - perhaps an auction element where competitors can bid for it on an annual basis. The original filer can either get a discount for his bid - to reward the intial work and inventiveness.
This way only economic patents would survive and the dross that is filed will just be thinned out.