Patents are supposed to provide the right to exclude others from practicing an invention. In the United States, this has become extremely challenging for smaller businesses. For independent inventors, who pour their time, energy, and resources into commercializing a new idea, patents are personal. They need and rely on the leverage that patents have historically offered. For large companies, the decision to forge ahead irrespective of who “owns” an idea is just business. The consequences of efficient infringement are few and far between. The challenges faced by U.S. inventors who rely on the legal system are well-documented. Suing for patent infringement is not a reliable business strategy, even when willful infringement is found to have occurred, which is rare. What’s an innovator to do?
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