I am responding to David Lammers' "Rebound without the bounce" (Dec. 13, 2004; page 35) from the perspective of an unemployed American high-tech worker. I became a victim of terrorism when my employer's Manhattan agency in the World Trade Center complex burned on Sept. 11. I am also a victim of the offshoring of high-tech work to India. I have been seeking work for 163 weeks.
I was surprised that Ron Wilson's Opinion piece on patent reform in the Jan. 17 issue (page 4) only presented the opinions of two patent attorneys.
The patent system isn't broken; it's fixed-fixed to make the most money for the attorneys. You need a patent to be able to sue anyone who tries to sell a product using your idea.
That means you need a lawyer to help you draw up the patent so it is as broad as possible without being shot down by the Patent and Trademark Office. Then, if someone challenges your patent or if you find an infringer-or if you, yourself, are accused of patent infringement-you need a lawyer to represent your side in court.
Personally, the less I have to deal with lawyers, the better. And a patent would cost me about $70,000 and about two years to be granted. Meanwhile, I could be inventing, developing and selling a product. Why should a little guy like me bother with patents? It's not worth it. I'll just develop my product in secrecy (easy enough to do) and keep the technology as trade secrets with no cost to me. I don't need to spend the money, time and aggravation of pursuing a patent. Leave that to the big companies.
That's what patents are-ammunition for big companies to use against each other. A patent is a license to sue.
Does anyone else in engineering feel the same way?
Senior Electrical Engineer