I rang a patent lawyer today to discuss my upcoming business, to check whether any part of what I’m doing is patentable. There’s a lot of existing systems and papers that describe part of what I’m doing, but not all.
In any case, he told me that if I decide to pursue and Australian patent, I could expect to spend around $3000, and for an international patent, at least another $10,000. Both with no guarantee of success of course.
It makes me wonder. The popular image of patents is a canny fellow thinking up a clever doodad in his garage. But in practice it doesn’t work that way — the vast majority are lodged by large corporations. In software they are generally lodged defensively, creating a situation of mutually-assured patent wars if one big firm decides to sue another big firm. Then the little guy loses out because he doesn’t have any patents to swap.
So a question for the lawyers and economists: would it be worth changing the patent system so that only individuals could file in their own name?