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July 1, 2011

Today, my main job was to find out if a certain jar already had a patent.  MVP wants to package some pickles in this jar, that they have already designed but cannot make because someone may have a patent on it and therefore may sue them.  I don’t know how you feel about intellectual property, but let me please let me tell you my view on the ineffectiveness of patents.

1. I spent probably 3 hours finding whether there was a patent for this jar.  One of the reasons for this was that the website is not very user friendly. It made me download a plugin to let me see the images which conflicted with another program I already had.

2. After all this I come up with three patents that do not look exactly like the jar in question, but similar enough that you are unsure whether there is a patent on your jar or not and I’m going to have to call them or do something else to actually figure it out.

3. So, if there is no patent, we decide to apply for a patent.  What will this cost?  Well if you do it all yourself, the US patent office will charge you at least $1, 300, according to this site in 2008–So probably up about 5-10% with inflation and gov’t trying to get some more revenue.  This is in addition to whatever you paid to design or model your patent, and the time searching to see if there is anything like it.  Or you can get a patent lawyer–Weena–for $10, 000-20,000 who will do all that for you and will probably get it done in less time, 1 year rather than 2.

This is all for a little glass jar, only slightly different than a regular Mason jar–did you know it was called Mason because Mason was the one who patented it.  So why do we have patents?

According to a few sites here and here, a patent is one of the most efficient ways to be competitive. A patent provides a legal means for the entrepreneurs to establish a monopoly for the production and marketing of their goods under free market conditions.  A patent encourage inventors to make an investment in time and money in research and development by providing exclusive rights.

1. The research and development needed to design this jar was probably a few days.  However, because of having to wait on the patent, the jar will have to wait for about a year.

2.Aren’t there laws against monopolies…because they are not competitive in the free market?

4.I did a little more research on patents and found most patents are never used.  Then I found that most that are used, are used only defensively-meaning they will only be used if the company is sued.

5. My final point is why does another person have the right to tell me what I can or cannot make with my own materials and property?  Does creation really make something yours–If Michelangelo breaks into my storeroom where I just happen to have a piece of marble and he makes it into a gorgeous statue, whose statue is it?  Michelangelo’s through creation or mine because I owned the marble?

Just some food for thought cause I had such a hard time finding the patent…


2 Comments leave one →
  1. William permalink
    July 7, 2011 12:27 am

    Property rights are party of being in a free society, and if people couldn’t make a profit off of their intellectual holdings, there would be little incentive for inventing and producing new kinds of things. Also it encourages companies to release discoveries associated with their invention to the public. And there is no law against monopolies, only the abuse of monopoly power if you aren’t a government sanctioned monopoly.

    Anyway clearly your company thinks that the profit it will make by patenting the new kind of jar and paying all of the fee’s is greater than if its design were stolen and it had to pay someone else for the jar. Also if you could find an older design like the mason jar whose patent had already expired you could just start making it without worrying about anyone coming along behind you and excluding you from your jar. Finally it is quite interesting that if you held the patent on the marble block, Michelangelo could still patent his statue, however he would not be able to reproduce, or sell it himself because of your patent.

    • July 7, 2011 4:14 pm

      Exactly right Weir-Property rights are the foundation of a free society, but patents infringe upon them, they are not in themselves property rights. I can own something by being first user/taker of something like land or by trading, nothing else. Creation is neither sufficient nor necessary for property rights. That is the statue example. How can Michelangelo patent a statue I own? And because I own it why do I need a patent? Instead a patent infringes upon property rights. If I own my own body and the materials I need to make a jar, who has the right to stop me from doing so? Who has the right to tell me what I can do with my own body and property that I own?

      Would the profit incentive go away if there were no patents? I don’t think so.

      My company may think that it will get higher profits by patenting than by paying someone else for the jar. Either way there is a dead weight loss that doesn’t have to be there. I found that most patents are never used, and those that are are used mainly for defensive purposes. I just wonder whether the benefits of the patent system–which may be an increased profit incentive because of the safety of a monopoly–outweigh the costs including the time of getting the patent

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