Securing Technology/ Know-How Without Payment


Industries and entrepreneurs often look for technology to solve technical problems or to start a new business. It is said technology comes with a price and nothing is free.This statement though true in some circumstances, is not applicable in all circumstances. This article will discuss the manner of obtaining valuable technology without the payment of any technology fees, licensing or royalty fees.

To understand the issue, it is necessary to know how the patent system works. Firstly a patent is granted for a product, composition, apparatus or equipment, process ofmanufacture, or even use, if the subject matter is novel, not obvious to a person skilled in the field of technology and is industrially applicable. The Patent office which receives and examines the patent applications ensures that the applications meet with these criteria. In addition the patent laws of most countries require that the inventor disclose “the best mode of the invention” such that a person skilled in the art would be able to reproduce the invention, just by practising the teachings disclosed in the patent document together with common general knowledge in that field of technology, without doing any further research. What more can be asked? An organic chemist reading a patent on an organic chemical compound should be able to produce the chemical compound disclosed and claimed in chemical patent using his common general knowledge (as is known to all chemists) without doing further research.

Similarly a manufacturer of say, injection moulding machines should be able to reproduce any improvements to injection moulding machines disclosed and claimed in a patent relating to the latter machine without further research (although minor experimenting or workshop trials may be required).

Secondly, the life of a patent is limited. The patents of most countries last for a maximum of 20 years from date of filing of the patent application. However most patents are not maintained for that period of time – the granted patents are allowed to lapse for non-payment of annuity fees. Once the patent has expired, the technologydisclosed therein is available to the whole world free of charge. No consent or license is required to commercially exploit the technology disclosed.
[There could be other subsisting rights, such as industrial design rights, copyright, etc.which needs to be cleared].

Thirdly, most patent offices now publish the patent application in full eighteen months after filing even though a patent has not been granted. Many of the published patent applications are not prosecuted to grant. The technology disclosed in the published patent application is donated to mankind, if no patent is granted on the patent application……

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