Posted here looking for ideas a few weeks ago and got a good response. The original theme was software patents, but it kind of evolved into patent abuse in general; I don't think that's a bad thing so I think I'll keep it like this unless you guys think that's a bad idea. So the general theme here is supposed to be:
- Why our patent system helps big businesses be abusive.
- Our patent system is SUPPOSED to do the opposite.
- I was able to help our patent system work correctly.
- This was an epiphany for me, and I decided I want to spend my career doing this.
- Therefore, law school is perfect for me.
I haven't had to write a proper essay for close to two years, so I'm sure I did all sorts of things wrong. Wording is poor and pretty cheesy in a few places too, need to bust out my old thesaurus. Here's my second draft, tell me what you think:
“I’m amazed they gave me that patent.” A coworker of mine spoke these exact words during a conversation in the lab at Hewlett-Packard (HP); an outsider to the inner workings of large technology companies would have been shocked at this statement, but I was not. Strewn about the lab, and hung along the walls outside the lab, were hundreds of framed cover pages from patents that had been granted to our group.
Almost all of the patents held by engineers in my group covered similar “innovations” in our product that were insignificant or obvious to anyone in the enterprise servers and storage industry, and everyone in the group knew it. Employees were not only encouraged, but also financially rewarded, for securing as many patents as possible for HP. It wasn’t about ingenuity or progress; patents were seen by engineers as an extra line item on their paychecks, and by our bosses as another feather in their managerial caps.
The cost of defending against a patent suit can top millions of dollars for both parties, regardless of the final ruling. HP, like all technology giants, stockpiles patents to keep around as ammunition to launch against competitors. These large companies know that a small competitor’s cost to defend themselves will likely result in bankruptcy, even if the disputed infringement covers an obvious innovation that will not stand up in court, such as “Method and apparatus for resetting passwords in a computer system.”
I believe the purpose of a patent should be to protect truly innovative individual inventors from large companies. From my experience in the computer industry, I have found that patents are used almost exclusively to pad large corporation’s bottom lines. These companies use patents as a way to profit from technology advances where they can, and impede independent advances they cannot profit from, while small businesses and individuals are left hung out to dry by the very system that is supposed to protect them. My experience has been that the current legal system enables and encourages this behavior.
While studying for my Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering (BSEE), I was able to participate in the brighter side of our patent system when one of my electromagnetics professors extended a job offer to a select few students in his class. The group of us assisted a local boutique intellectual property litigation firm in analyzing several wireless devices, in order to determine infringement relative to some issued patents that their client held. The client in question had suffered from the theft of their patented antenna technology: the loss of business due to willful infringement by several high-profile cellular device makers resulted in the client’s business being reduced from 70 engineers and manufacturing facilities, to less than 20 engineers in a rented office space.
I was able to assist the client in securing a favorable verdict, winning damages and royalties for willful infringement. Participating in the proper exercise of our patent system by helping to defend a small business was an eye opening experience; I found that there is still good in our patent system, and also that there is a need for lawyers able to defend the intellectual property of individual inventors and small business from large corporations. These large companies are not above the law, and I want to spend my career keeping them in line.
I wish to serve as a patent counsel for small companies and independent inventors, providing them guidance and, when needed, defense. Furthermore, I wish to work as an activist towards reform of the current patent system so that it can better achieve the goal of protecting individuals. My industry experience and BSEE are the perfect background to compliment an education in law. By adding a legal education to my technical education and experience, I wish to participate in and improve an area of the legal profession that should be prestigious, but has been hijacked in recent years by corrupt corporate interests.