I got my U.S. Patent 9,401,134, filed July 23, 2014, issued July 26, 2014, out of the mailbox this morning. Nice, fancy thing it is, all printed and bound, with an embossed gold seal of the United States Patent and Trademark Office and a red ribbon. It’s worth repeating what is says on the cover:
The Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office
Has received an application for a patent for a new and useful invention. The title and description of the invention are enclosed. The requirements of law have been complied with, and it has been determined that a patent on the invention shall be granted under the law.
United States Patent
Grants to the person(s) having title to this patent the right to exclude others from making, selling, using, offering for sale, or selling the invention throughout the United States of America or importing the invention into the United States of America, and if the invention is a process, of the right to exclude others from using, offering for sale or selling throughout the United States of America, or importing into the United States of America, products made by that process, for the term set forth in 35 U.S.C. 154(a)(2) or (c)(1), subject to payment of maintenance fees as provided by 35 U.S.C. 41(4). See the Maintenance Fee Notice on the inside of the cover.
/Michelle K. Lee/
Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office
Not having obtained foreign patent rights, I can’t do anything about anyone making, selling, using, offering for sale, or selling the invention out there. That’s not all bad. If it becomes popular outside the U.S., what are U.S. guitar makers going to do? Publicly rip off the patent of an elderly and disabled person? Take a chance on my hiring psycho lawyers to match Fender’s and suing their deep pockets off?
And before anyone utters the term “patent troll”, consider the definition. Patent trolls don’t spend years creating intellectual property, and filing on it. They buy patents as legal investments for future suits.
The other side of that dirty coin is the Patent Vulture, the big company that rips off a patent and makes the true inventor spend years and hundreds of thousands of dollars in court (assuming the inventor can afford that) trying to make the vulture license it, while the vulture rakes in the profits.
Trolls, Vultures and psycho lawyers deserve each other.
You will notice that elsewhere on this site, in tutorials, I have encouraged others to build some of this patented property for their own personal use and evaluation. Even though the law gives me the right to forbid it. So long as it is just one-of, and reported publicly, I’ll consider it free marketing. For now. That policy can be reversed at any time, after which it is forbidden.
As an encouragement to licensing, I’ve even told some guitar companies to wire an all-humbucking 5-way superswitch circuit for evaluation, or to test humbucking pairs in the lab. If they are smart, they would anyway – so long as they don’t make it for sale, or just give it away to their artists. That, I think, is why patents are published, to encourage innovation.
You might think that with Fender Musical Instruments Corp(tm) taking 3/4 of the market, smaller companies might welcome a chance to increase their share. Yet so far, the guitar companies have been somewhat reluctant to step out of their historical boxes. Maybe it’s the NIH (Not Invented Here) syndrome. How could anyone not of the elite have thought of anything new under the strings?
In the meantime, I’m working on the next patent. C’est la vie.