Q: How did you get interested in inventions, patents and patent law?
A: I first became interested in patents and patent law as an undergraduate student at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. My father was seeking to patent a game he developed and hired an invention company to help him with the process. I read all their literature and became increasingly fascinated with patents and the patent process. Sadly, despite paying more than $5,000, my father did not get a patent to protect his invention because the invention company never retained a patent attorney.
Q: What's interesting or important about patent files and the patent system that may not be well known or obvious to the public? Are the files full of great ideas just waiting for a sponsor?
A: patent is essentially a monopoly granted by the government for a limited time in order to induce individuals to freely disclose their inventions for the benefit of the general public. In order to preserve and protect the public benefit, the law provides that free use may be made of any invention covered by an expired patent. Many patents fail for various reasons, these patents may be exploited by the public; however they are part of the public domain and are not further protectable in their current form. Therefore, if one exploits an expired patent, without further improving upon the invention, another may come along and exploit it as well.
[Note: a patent does not confer monopoly rights. A patent is a right to exclude others; it is not a right to make, use, or sell.]