Patents do not have to be a milestone that only forms part of the life of Edison, Tesla or Bell. If we believe that we have not invented anything worthwhile, we can think other way, that patents protect the solution to a problem. So, if the word “invention” sounds presumptuous to us, but we solved a technological problem, let`s protect the “solution to the problem” we have found. This, and nothing else, is a patent.
The subject that inspired our today’s article was a poster that is currently hanging in the central courtyard of the National Council for Scientific Research (Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas), where one can read, as you can see in the picture accompanying this article, that the Council for Scientific Research has licensed more than 260 patents in recent years.
And putting them all in a bunch – and we must not forget that the number corresponds to the last 5 years – is, maybe, what we need to find a glimmer of hope and motivation to break the deadlock that research and technology protection are undergoing in Spain. While, it is true that our universities lack resources and are financially in a very difficult situation; while it is true that companies in need of making savings, will first make cuts in industrial property protection, it is also true that there is an important lack of “patent culture” in general and in all activity areas. These issues mean at least half of the reasons why very few patents are requested in Spain.
Many professionals approach patents with indifference. Actually one can “live without patents” many years, but there comes a day they receive a letter announcing a claim for alleged violation of a competitor’s right. There begins a long journey of stress and worry for which they were not prepared.
Other professionals are highly competent in their field, but flee patents because patents deviate them from – so they believe – his noble task of research, and see no long-term benefit in “wasting time” writing an impossible document and spending money from their research projects, or their company, for a piece of paper that will be kept in a drawer.
In other cases, a company, a research institution, achieves a major breakthrough in a technology area, but they publish with the most naive and childlike joy. “With a little bit of luck” someone cares about that finding. At that point they realize how things could have gone, but did not because, alas, it is too late!.
All of these situations would be very different if patents were more seriously taken in our country. Being aware of existing patents serves to not be suddenly scared of having our flagship product off the market. It also will prevent us to spend much more money than we would have spent on a regular patent surveillance. What are our colleagues doing?, this is not gossip, is just a question of survival.
No, patents are not left in a drawer in the XXI century. As soon they are published, they travel around the world and sometimes they find open doors and are received with enthusiasm. The benefit can be very rewarding for our working environment and our research projects, for our motivation and generation of new ideas.
Nor should we be too modest about our achievements. What we have achieved in our R & D department, or our laboratory in a small Spanish university without a brilliant past, some of them with almost no past, can put us in the story, and on the map. Let’s not miss opportunities, our inventions are as good as those from other citizens of this planet.
Before finishing we just want to ask the readers of this article to include patents in their life, because the working time they add to their day to day will be more than rewarded with a good protection strategy for their “solution to problems” and a good professional advice. Good luck!