Patent Submission Policies
63 Pages Posted: 10 Nov 2016 Last revised: 5 Sep 2017
Date Written: August 31, 2017
This article focuses on the early stage of commercialization communication when a third party inventor owns an invention protected by a patent that a manufacturer-commercializer may profit from producing — long before any allegation of infringement or litigation. These submission-review communications by unaffiliated third parties are covered by corporate policies known as “patent submission policies.” They are the figurative “front doors” to a company for any third party inventor, crucial to the commercialization of inventions generally. Unfortunately, patent submission policies have thus far remained unstudied in legal academic scholarship.
This article collects and analyzes the current variations of patent submission policies adopted by the largest companies within four technical industries: automotive; computer hardware; computer services; and pharmaceutical. This review reveals clear inconsistencies regarding policies: some technology firms have policies that result in clear paths for third party inventors to submit patents; others have policies to effectively block submissions of inventions, block third party communications, and slam the corporate doors in the face of outside inventors. Further, the lack of submission standards are somewhat unique as compared to other types of IP submissions — notably movie screenplays and book manuscripts — and often unique and inconsistent within specific technology industries themselves. This lack of standardization across similar firms adds to the notion that patent submission policies have thus far been insufficiently analyzed and have perhaps evolved inefficiently. With this research, many questions arise regarding a potential need for large technology firms to reevaluate their patent submission policies and open their front doors to third party inventors.
Keywords: intellectual property, IP, patent, federal courts, patent trolls, PAEs, innovation
JEL Classification: K11, K19, O30, O31, O32, O33, O34
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