Sunday, June 23, 2013

A Parallel System for Defensive Publication

Many inventors wish to make a public disclosure of their ideas for public benefit. Sometimes the disclosure comes in the form of an academic publication. Sometimes it appears as a “defensive publication”. Companies pay to have selected ideas published in specialized journals to prevent other companies getting patents on them. This way, the company can avoid the cost and effort of obtaining a patent, and still make sure that they can always use the disclosed ideas in their own products. Research Disclosures is a publication that accepts papers written for defensive publication.

What about a simpler, parallel process that a larger number of inventors can contribute to? There are not too many publications that individual inventors can publish in without paying a price-per-page charge. Many such publications focus only on specific areas of work.

I have a specific set of suggestions to create a parallel system:
1)  Inventors should familiarise themselves with what a patent examiner expects of a patent. Some information on this is available in an article on the MIT Website. The disclosure text should describe the invention clearly, indicating some manner of creating an embodiment of the invention, so that a professional in the field can be convinced that the invention could conceivably be implemented.
2)  Then they should create a write-up for publication on the Web, on a well-known site which is regularly covered by search engines. I will use my blog on for this purpose, among others. 
3)  Their disclosures should focus on an invention or a set of closely connected inventions. The write-up should not be too long.
4)  They should attach a standard declaration reading roughly as follows to their write-up:

PublicInventionDisclosure: Any novel ideas discussed here are being consciously published for public benefit.  Patent applications made after this publication cannot claim credit for those ideas.

The proposal is that publication of ideas in this form would make it easy for anyone to locate them – other inventors, lawyers, and those who wish to argue against a patent being conferred on someone. For example, a search for
“PublicInventionDisclosure” GPS tractors
would locate any idea disclosed in this manner, relevant to the use of GPS techniques with tractors. Putting the first string in double quotes in the search-string would make searching and reading through the reported results, very fast.

Would this parallel system have any legal standing? Does it need it? We need to listen to patent lawyers on this. I believe that if the system is used by a few thousand inventors, litigating lawyers would make this system very effective. The main advantage of the system is that costs nothing in the way of effort, if the inventor is going to publish his ideas in any case. Adding the declaration at the bottom is all that is required.

I would welcome comments and suggestions from everyone interested.

Srinivasan Ramani 


Rupal Fadia said...

Dear Sir
We would like to do a defensive publication of our product. Can you pls suggest which is the best way / most effective way currently available to do this in India?


Srinivasan Ramani said...

If there are one or technical ideas you want to cover, the simplest solution is get an academic (or technical) paper published on it and write one or two popular articles as well.

If the product ideas are economically worth a considerable sum, you should consult a patent lawyer. It may be worth filing for a patent, even if you do this as a defensive measure.

You might want to verify this with a lawyer, but I believe that if you file for an Indian patent and let it lapse later, by not paying for its maintenance, it automatically gets into the public domain. I believe that it is considered to be in the public domain all over the world. Considering the low cost of an Indian patent this may be a good option in many cases.

Srinivasan Ramani