‘Patent Quality is No Worse Today Than 40 years ago ,’ Says Celebrated Inventor on Latest ‘Understanding IP Matters’

In the latest episode of ‘Understanding IP Matters’, which dropped today on leading podcast platforms, award-winning inventor Dan Brown says that the patent winds have shifted and are blowing against inventors, especially those who wish to manufacture a product in the U.S.

“Patents are now a part of a ‘David and Goliath’ system stacked against the small inventor,” said Brown, who is serving a three-year appointment as a USPTO Public Patent Advisory Committee member. “I am biased because I am in independent inventor, but I’ve worked with big companies and watched efficient infringement happen and have seen my technology knocked-off.”

Competitive Advantage

“What I see now is a lack of sensitivity for invention rights granted in the Constitution (11:35). A demonstrated competitive advantage needs to be protected wherever the source. Who in their right mind in the U.S. is going to conduct research, go out and get a patent and invest in a product if they can get knocked off in China or are likely to lose their patent in a District Court or at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board?”

“A demonstrated competitive advantage needs to be protected.”

Dan Brown has earned more than 11 international design awards and 40 U.S. patents. Brown’s ‘Bionic Wrench’, which has sold more than three million units and generated over $60 million in sales. Early versions of his time-saving tool were initially sold to Sears, at the time one of the oldest and largest retail chains in the U.S. Sears decided to save money by hiring a company in China manufacture a knock-off.

“A patent doesn’t assure that competitors will not try to steal your invention,” says Brown. “You need to be smarter, faster and better prepared.”

First Generation

Brown is also a designer, educator on the faculty of Northwestern University, and a successful entrepreneur. He is a first generation American and the first in his family to graduate from college. He calls his approach to inventing ‘differentiation by design.’

Brown believes that America is losing its innovation edge. A decade plus of legislation averse to inventors and unsympathetic courts have taken their toll. He is as passionate about improving the prospects for inventors as he is about inventing. “If they don’t fight they lose by default,” he says.

‘Understanding IP Matters’ spoke with Dan Brown from his design studio in Evanston, Illinois. Listen to the podcast here.

‘Understanding IP Matters: From Creator to Entrepreneur’ is brought to you by the Center for Intellectual Property Understanding, a non-profit established in 2016 dedicated to raising awareness about the impact of IP rights on individuals, business and society. CIPU provides outreach to improve IP literacy and promote sharing.

Quotes were edited for space.

Image source: CIPU

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