Is there a problem with the patent system?
Let's look at some data! 3DSystems is a good example.
3DSystems (Chuck Hull inventor) was clearly the first to bring a usable RP
system to the market. But 3DSystems has a patent position that is not
reflective of its early leadership role in this area. Why? Because
several people had thought of systems like SLA years earlier. They just
thought of the idea, they did not make it work; they did not bring it to
the market. But, they filed for patents. Now these patents sit on the
shelf preventing inventors like Chuck Hull from getting the protection that
These early patents did not even meet the requirements of the patent
office. Recall that one of the requirements is a description that would
allow a person skilled in the art to practice the invention. If the
invention would not work as shown in the patent, then the patent is not in
compliance with this requirement. If you need further proof of this point,
then look at the numerous perpetual motion machine patents.
I have not seen any evidence that the early inventors intend to bring a
machine to market. So who is benefiting from the existence of these early
patents? It is the people who are copying SLA.
I think that it is time to bring some common sense to the patent system and
to favor the people who make things work.
Dr. Carl Deckard
Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering
P.O. Box 340921
Clemson South Carolina 29634-0921
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