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 Post subject: Good puzzle questions for a lawyer...
PostPosted: Fri Dec 18, 2009 6:14 pm 
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As usual, when in Singapore, we have a meeting with our company lawyer where we resolve some crucial
and strategic matters. So this time, there will be again a meeting, and I have many questions on-hold.

But what really makes a good puzzle question? That is, sometimes questions can find some loopholes in a
legal system, which then, must urgently be patched to avoid any problems. Other times, there have been
questions regarding how related is a new design to a patented design. I will use a V-cube as an example:

- If someone makes a dodecahedron based on cubic V-Cube technology (i.e. the actual internal mechanism
is based on a cube) then it is illegal, as this is covered by the patent.

BUT:

- If someone makes a dodecahedron based on non-cubic V-Cube technology (for example Teraminx or Petaminx),
then it is legal, as this is not covered by the patent.

Many can come up with some really tricky questions. Now if any of you has a really good question,
I may add it to my list and let you know the outcome. And that, without asking from you any legal fees LOL
(but I cannot promise it will be answered - the question must be realistic and a little bit related to our matters).

:mrgreen:


Pantazis

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 Post subject: Re: Good puzzle questions for a lawyer...
PostPosted: Fri Dec 18, 2009 6:55 pm 
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kastellorizo wrote:
- If someone makes a dodecahedron based on cubic V-Cube technology (i.e. the actual internal mechanism
is based on a cube) then it is illegal, as this is covered by the patent.

BUT:

- If someone makes a dodecahedron based on non-cubic V-Cube technology (for example Teraminx or Petaminx),
then it is legal, as this is not covered by the patent.


The dodecahedral shape mod of a V-cube could be patented under a design patent (just the outer shape and not the internal mechanism), but could not be patented under a utility patent (new mechanism). The original V-cube patent would need to be referenced as "prior art", and no claims to the mechanism could be made.

This is of course leaving out the requirement that the dodecahedron design is "non-obvious"; it is certainly obvious after the 3x3x3 dodecahedron was made.


Actually producing the puzzle legally using the v-cube design is another story altogether. Without a claim to a mechanism for the puzzle, It could not legally be produced without a licensing agreement.


If I have a question that could be answered it would be: What is the legality of a cuboid based on a heavily modified v-cube type design? The V-cube patent is specifically NxNxN cubes, and although the cuboid design uses similar design elements, it is in many ways distinctly different. (However, it is difficult to be specific without showing the design.)


There is a line somewhere, thank you for asking the questions that help us figure out where it is.


Adam

p.s. I don't know if the terms "Design Patent" and "Utility Patent" are used worldwide, but they are used in the USA, and that is the only system I am at all familiar with.

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 Post subject: Re: Good puzzle questions for a lawyer...
PostPosted: Fri Dec 18, 2009 7:45 pm 
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kastellorizo wrote:
Many can come up with some really tricky questions. Now if any of you has a really good question,
I may add it to my list and let you know the outcome. And that, without asking from you any legal fees LOL
(but I cannot promise it will be answered - the question must be realistic and a little bit related to our matters).

:mrgreen:


Pantazis


What if a person combines a megaminx and a 3x3x3 dodecahedron shape mod using V-cube mechanisms? Is that legal? :|

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Wow... a jumbable puzzle which doesn't jumble?
Is that even possible???


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 Post subject: Re: Good puzzle questions for a lawyer...
PostPosted: Fri Dec 18, 2009 8:34 pm 
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Skewber wrote:
kastellorizo wrote:
Many can come up with some really tricky questions. Now if any of you has a really good question,
I may add it to my list and let you know the outcome. And that, without asking from you any legal fees LOL
(but I cannot promise it will be answered - the question must be realistic and a little bit related to our matters).

:mrgreen:


Pantazis


What if a person combines a megaminx and a 3x3x3 dodecahedron shape mod using V-cube mechanisms? Is that legal? :|

Isn't that what the Pro-minx is?


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 Post subject: Re: Good puzzle questions for a lawyer...
PostPosted: Fri Dec 18, 2009 8:41 pm 
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a 3x3x3 dodeca shape mod with a v-cube mech wouldn't be allowed, seeing as the 3x3x3 cube is covered.

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 Post subject: Re: Good puzzle questions for a lawyer...
PostPosted: Sun Dec 20, 2009 12:42 pm 
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Puzzlemaster42 wrote:
If I have a question that could be answered it would be: What is the legality of a cuboid based on a heavily modified v-cube type design? The V-cube patent is specifically NxNxN cubes, and although the cuboid design uses similar design elements, it is in many ways distinctly different. (However, it is difficult to be specific without showing the design.)

There is a line somewhere, thank you for asking the questions that help us figure out where it is.


Looks like a nice question which I would also like to know the answer. Thanks Adam, I will put it in my list. :)
(and I will also try to clear up the design/utility patent differences)


Pantazis

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 Post subject: Re: Good puzzle questions for a lawyer...
PostPosted: Sun Dec 20, 2009 1:14 pm 
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kastellorizo wrote:
Puzzlemaster42 wrote:
If I have a question that could be answered it would be: What is the legality of a cuboid based on a heavily modified v-cube type design? The V-cube patent is specifically NxNxN cubes, and although the cuboid design uses similar design elements, it is in many ways distinctly different. (However, it is difficult to be specific without showing the design.)

There is a line somewhere, thank you for asking the questions that help us figure out where it is.


Looks like a nice question which I would also like to know the answer. Thanks Adam, I will put it in my list. :)
(and I will also try to clear up the design/utility patent differences)


Pantazis

There's a 3x4x5 design like this, I believe it was tomz.

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 Post subject: Re: Good puzzle questions for a lawyer...
PostPosted: Sun Dec 20, 2009 1:18 pm 
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theVDude wrote:
There's a 3x4x5 design like this, I believe it was tomz.


Yes, I remember. It is an interesting case, but in my opinion it is not an issue.
I mean, as long as in a commercial point of view there is no direct competition
in terms if cubes (which are different from cuboids), there is no problem.

But as I said, this is my opinion, I will soon ask the professionals for facts.
(The meeting is scheduled for after Christmas)

:)


Pantazis

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 Post subject: Re: Good puzzle questions for a lawyer...
PostPosted: Sun Dec 20, 2009 8:38 pm 
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how much different does a mechanism have to be to be considered legally different?
Or, what or how much of the mech must be changed for Vereds to no longer have legal ownership of it?

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 Post subject: Re: Good puzzle questions for a lawyer...
PostPosted: Mon Dec 21, 2009 2:15 pm 
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elijah wrote:
how much different does a mechanism have to be to be considered legally different?
Or, what or how much of the mech must be changed for Vereds to no longer have legal ownership of it?


Yeap, this is another issue which can "touch" a gray area. From what I have been told before,
it is a matter of how similar the court will find it can be. But I will ask some details for this too.
That also involves the legality of partially using a puzzle (more than 50%).

Your question is also interesting and more general than Adam's, so that it can help draw a line
between what is right and what is not. I hope I can get a concrete answer for few specific cases.
Our lawyer is very experienced in puzzle and toy patents, so I would love to hear his words about this too!

:)


Pantazis

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 Post subject: Re: Good puzzle questions for a lawyer...
PostPosted: Wed Jan 06, 2010 7:38 pm 
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okkie... yesterday I had a long (and expensive) session with my lawyer here in Singapore.
I was not the only person from my company, so it was more like a meeting.
I took some notes, and I tried to cover all the above issues, as well as more recent ones.
Especially regarding the tricky parts, I asked my lawyer more than once, to ensure what
I write below is true and does not contain any misunderstandings.
The below notes are about the LEGAL parts of those issues, and NOT the ethical parts.
(Legal parts are regarded to be a subdivision of the ethical ones due to the restricted enforcement).

Here we go:


******************************************************************************************

1. Provisional patents (just like normal patents) give a lot of power to their owners.
They are a useful way to check the marketability of your puzzle. So use it, but since the draft
will have to be written by you (i.e. the reason it is cheap), try to follow formats of other patents
to ensure your claims cover properly all the features of your concept. I repeat, give a lot of
importance to the claims!

2. In some countries, even private construction is not permitted. But let us look at countries
where private construction is permitted. If someone publicizes a puzzle using video, images,
or bringing it to a meeting, the usage is not any more private, and there is a serious breach.

3. A Utility Patent is similar to a normal patent, but its duration is around 5-10 years (in contrast
to the normal 20 year life of a normal patent), it is never examined, it has poor strength, and it
can be revoked easily by a another normal patent. Moreover, it is not available to all countries.

4. A Design Patent is only about the looks and it is very limited, which is why it is the cheapest of all.

5. Enforcement of the international patent laws in China, is very possible, but it strongly depends on
the province. For example, places like Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Beijing, are ideal to sue for damages.
But for other provinces, which are not as "accessible", it is virtually impossible.

6. Using a percentage x% to check if a patented puzzle has been illegally copied is irrelevant. It is the claims
that matter and what they cover. If there is a unique feature, which is clear that it is not covered by the claims,
then someone may get away with it. That does not include obvious modifications, such as subdivisions, expansions
(on top of), or restrictions of a mechanism. For example, the 8x8x8 which was made using a 4x4x4 core is legit.
If there are doubts, a court can ask an immediate and direct comparison of the designs, to judge if there is a breach.

7. NxMxK cuboids: If someone uses an original puzzle to modify it externally, there is no problem, unless
the same person commercializes it without the permission of the mechanism patent owner.
Now, making a cuboid from scratch, i.e. without using the patented internal cubic design as a base,
or as long as the mechanism is clearly different from the cubic one, is legit. It is a similar case with the Teraminx.

8. The dodecahedral (internal) type of the V-cube mechanism, cannot be patented any more (including USA),
because a year had passed already since it was known, and no patent had been filed. If the V-Cube style
has not been used or shown yet for other cases, and if the grace period is still there, there might be a possibility
to file a new patent.

******************************************************************************************

The above were my lawyer's words as I wrote them. Clearly and simple. You may easily verify those
by asking your own lawyer (printing this thread and showing it to him could be very useful!).

In some other news, after we discussed some critical IP situations that we want to prevent from arising,
I got the "green light" to make some prototypes of some of my unseen puzzles. By July, we will have some
interesting stuff. And I will be sending to the Nob-Yoshigahara puzzle competition at least two puzzles based
on entirely new concepts. One of them will first have a provisional patent filed by University staff. We have
already assessed the marketability of some other new puzzles, so we will soon take some action.
The year 2010 will be very interesting!!!

So... I have almost explained the entire discussion. You may ask me further questions, but if it was not
covered by our lawyer, I am not sure I will be able to answer it properly as I am not a lawyer myself.

:)


Pantazis


PS. My lawyer is a Chinese-Singaporean who works for one of the largest firms in the world,
has experience in the toy/puzzle patent field, and he is very expensive, but good! LOL
Singapore laws are very close and similar to the ones in UK, so he was able to give me an insight
regarding many tricky parts. And by using the fact that Singapore was number one in ALL countries
when it comes to IP protection, I could have not possibly found a better source for the above!

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 Post subject: Re: Good puzzle questions for a lawyer...
PostPosted: Wed Jan 06, 2010 11:05 pm 
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Regarding your lawyer's comments on private use (point 2), please could you ask him to identify specific clauses in the UK Patent Act, or indeed any legal cases which support his claim, as my own patent lawyer (partner at top UK firm) says this is not true otherwise singing songs in the street would breach copyright according to the same logic.

I'm not doubting that your lawyer said this, I would just like to review any evidence for myself in case my own lawyer is wrong.

Thanks

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 Post subject: Re: Good puzzle questions for a lawyer...
PostPosted: Wed Jan 06, 2010 11:38 pm 
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Songs (copyrights) have absolutely nothing to do with patents (obviously).
Is your lawyer mixing up those two things? If yes, then you might have to change lawyer!

Technically speaking, a license should be obtained for the right to perform cover songs.
But there is many more details into that for someone who is interested. But this is irrelevant to
this topic for puzzles and I cannot think of a valid reason why you would want to mix those up.

The people at the law firm were in fact shocked when I told them about the puzzle case.
And yesterday I asked my lawyer about this issue MORE than once, so that the answer would be clear.
If you want details, you may refer to your own lawyer and pay your own bills. I did not ask from him
to list me any claims (I am not a lawyer and I avoid the law jargon), but I told him about the case of
posting videos, or images of a patented puzzle and I asked him for an answer regarding the legality
with simple words. He clearly said that publicizing in any way is not private usage and is illegal practice.
Not even unethical. Illegal. Only the legitimate owner can do this.

Regardless of who you or I support, all of this will be cross-checked sooner or later, so if you want to
debate about concrete facts, you found the wrong guy. Just be patient and you will see. Moreover,
if you notice more carefully, I mention ALL points, good or bad. So it is not as if I am being biased,
if that is what you imply. If I was, I could deliberately omit the point Nr 6.


Pantazis


PS. Just as an addition, and to give an idea of how much such consultations cost, it is around SG$800 per hour.
(yes, per hour, not per day, as the lawyer needs to do some serious preparation).

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 Post subject: Re: Good puzzle questions for a lawyer...
PostPosted: Mon Jan 11, 2010 8:46 pm 
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I'm pretty familiar with the Patent law in USA and Australia, so I can provide some selected citations. Pantazis's item #1 conflicts with most of my sources, but perhaps there's just some miscommunication.

kastellorizo wrote:
1. Provisional patents (just like normal patents) give a lot of power to their owners. They are a useful way to check the marketability of your puzzle. So use it, but since the draft will have to be written by you (i.e. the reason it is cheap), try to follow formats of other patents to ensure your claims cover properly all the features of your concept. I repeat, give a lot of
importance to the claims!

Caution! Are you sure this information hasn't gotten garbled, or perhaps over-simplified? I don't know of any region that provisionally grants any protective powers until a full patent application has been processed.

Can you name a specific jurisdiction that actually grants anything called a provisional patent? Lots of dishonest businesses use this phrase inaccurately to refer to a Provisional Patent Application, in which the application is provisional but no patent is actually granted. There are jurisdictions that accept provisional applications, but they don't grant provisional patents. Two citations: Australia, USA.

A Provisional Application establishes an earlier filing date, and therefore buys time to evaluate the market before investing in a full patent application. But it doesn't include formal claims and it doesn't provide any protective power in itself. A conventional patent application is still required. (USA law here.)

kastellorizo wrote:
2. In some countries, even private construction is not permitted. But let us look at countries where private construction is permitted. If someone publicizes a puzzle using video, images, or bringing it to a meeting, the usage is not any more private, and there is a serious breach.

Explicitly correct in the USA, the law itself grants the inventor "the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling the invention throughout the United States or importing the invention into the United States." (emphasis added)

Arguably correct in Australia: the law grants the inventor the sole right to "exploit" his invention. The IP Australia website puts the emphasis on commercial exploitation, but the law itself grants the inventor the sole right to exploit (receive benefit from) in any way. Correction:Explicitly correct under §119A Definition (5) for exploit includes "make, hire, sell, or otherwise dispose of the product" (emphasis added) from Australia Patent Act of 1990, No. 83, 27 March 2007 edition.

I don't know what the United Kingdom's position is. Anyone have a citation for that?

kastellorizo wrote:
4. A Design Patent is only about the looks and it is very limited, which is why it is the cheapest of all.

That's an understatement, if anything. The USA accepts "utility" as a valid defense for infringement against a Design Patent. IE: A design patent is not enforceable if the design is dictated by function. (Such elements should have been claimed in a utility patent, if applicable.)

kastellorizo wrote:
6. Using a percentage x% to check if a patented puzzle has been illegally copied is irrelevant. It is the claims that matter and what they cover. If there is a unique feature, which is clear that it is not covered by the claims, then someone may get away with it. That does not include obvious modifications, such as subdivisions, expansions (on top of), or restrictions of a mechanism. For example, the 8x8x8 which was made using a 4x4x4 core is legit. If there are doubts, a court can ask an immediate and direct comparison of the designs, to judge if there is a breach.

There's some subjectivity and variation between jurisdictions, so this is hard to nail down. I recommend reading about the Doctrine of Equivalents in Wikipedia for a quick primer.

(edit) added Australia citation for item #2.


Last edited by VeryWetPaint on Tue Jan 12, 2010 4:19 am, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Good puzzle questions for a lawyer...
PostPosted: Tue Jan 12, 2010 12:57 am 
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Thanks VeryWetPaint! A very detailed explanation indeed. :)

Regarding the UK citation, I am also very interested. Singapore laws are
based on the ones in UK so logically speaking they should be same.


Pantazis

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 Post subject: Re: Good puzzle questions for a lawyer...
PostPosted: Tue Jan 12, 2010 5:02 am 
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Don't worry, I'm not "stalking" anyone's posts - this is a topic that interests me, being discussed on a public forum, and so I'd like to contribute... :wink:

Anyway, according to the UK Patents Act 1977 (amended), Section 60 (page 46):

Quote:
60.-(1) Subject to the provisions of this section, a person infringes a patent for an invention if, but only if, while the patent is in force, he does any of the following things in the United Kingdom in relation to the invention without the consent of the proprietor of the patent, that is to say -
(a) where the invention is a product, he makes, disposes of, offers to dispose of, uses or imports the product or keeps it whether for disposal or otherwise...

However, the following general exclusion in Section 60.(5)(a) applies for private use (in fact this exclusion was previously mentioned here on TP forum):

Quote:
(5) An act which, apart from this subsection, would constitute an infringement of a patent for an invention shall not do so if -
(a) it is done privately and for purposes which are not commercial;

Now the term "privately" as used here is ambiguous and one could potentially argue that showing off a copied patent on YouTube makes it non-private. However this is certainly not a clear cut case, because one could also argue that the term "privately" was intended to refer to the "use" of the patent material itself, and has nothing to do with who gets to see the copied product. After all, this Act was written and passed long before the days of YouTube and the internet.

In borderline cases like this, one would usually rely on legal case history to see how the law has been applied and interpreted, but I haven't been able to find any legal cases where a patent was copied for private non-commercial use, and then shown off to the public. This is not surprising, however, because it would not be good business sense for a company to sue an individual for making their own private copy of a puzzle: first it would be difficult to prove that any damages had been caused to the company; second, a private individual probably could not afford to pay any damages (if proven), so the company has nothing to gain anyway; and, finally, the public backlash could potentially create a PR disaster for the company. Just imagine the news headlines: "Company sues lone hobbyist for making private model of patented puzzle". And when it comes to David vs Goliath stories, the media and public tend to support "David" (lone individual) rather than "Goliath" (company)...

However lawyers love to get involved in such cases where the law is ambiguous because the legal battles are often long and highly profitable (at least for them), and they can build their reputation by being associated with landmark cases that end up in student textbooks: "Yes, we were responsible for the X vs Y case, so we not only enforce the law, but help to define it!". Most lawyers will empathise with their clients by saying whatever they think their clients want to hear, in order to get their business and work on such cases: "wow, I can't believe those guys did that to you, we think you have a strong case and can help you win it!" Even lawyers have their own motives and agenda, but the usual result of these cases is that both clients lose out, while only the lawyers win!

But there is one more important reason why a company would never win such a case, and that's due to the second general exclusion in Section 60.(5)(b) of the UK Patents Act 1977 (amended) (page 47):

Quote:
(b) it is done for experimental purposes relating to the subject-matter of the invention;

This "experimental use" exclusion was specifically included in the Patents Act to allow and encourage people to develop further inventions for the benefit of society by experimenting with existing patents, provided that doing so does not infringe those patents by direct commercial exploitation.

Thus, regardless of how the term "privately" is interpreted in Section 60.(5)(a), and whether it may or may not be breached by publication on YouTube, Tony's 11x11x11 puzzle would never be considered illegal due to this additional exclusion in Section 60.(5)(b), especially given that this puzzle had never actually been made before...

In summary, the UK Patent Law is not very clear on "private use" and does not appear to have been challenged for clarification, but it's in nobody's interests to do so (except for the lawyers), and probably not worth arguing in any case as the experimental use exclusion is much more clear cut and relevant in this case.

Above all, don't forget that Governments only award patents on condition that all related patent know how is fully published and disclosed to the public, so that other people can understand it and develop further inventions for the benefit of society. Governments actually WANT patent know how to be published so that it can be developed further, that's how a society progresses through innovation, the law ("experimental use" exclusion) has been specifically defined to allow for this, and there's no better way to support this than allowing people to spread know how (which has already been published any way, as a condition of getting the patent) via YouTube!

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 Post subject: Re: Good puzzle questions for a lawyer...
PostPosted: Tue Jan 12, 2010 8:32 pm 
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A patent confers a special privilege to the patentee, but issuance of a patent does not automatically affect anyone else. A patent confers the "right to exclude" others from exploiting the invention, but the patentee must exercise that right in order for it to have any effect. (Australia citation)

The simple issuance of a patent does not legally prohibit others from exploiting an invention; infringement is not a crime per se. But the patentee has the legal right to stop others from exploiting the invention; infringers could be liable for fees or damages. But I don't feel qualified to evaluate Kelvin's examples in this regard.

Actually...

What disturbed me about Pantazis's list was his use of the phrase "provisional patent" in item #1. I sincerely hope this was either a transcription error or a jargon with a well-defined meaning outside the USA.

In the USA the phrase "provisional patent" is widely used in patent malpractice to ripoff inventors by helping them file a Provisional Patent Application, misleading them into thinking they're applying for a mythical Provisional Patent. In the USA there is no such thing as a "Provisional Patent." A Provisional Application simply captures details of an invention for use in a later non-provisional Patent Application (proof for an earlier filing date). The US Patent Office includes a warning here "Some invention promotion firms misuse the provisional application process leaving the inventor with no patent."


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 Post subject: Re: Good puzzle questions for a lawyer...
PostPosted: Tue Jan 12, 2010 10:57 pm 
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Kelvin Stott wrote:
Don't worry, I'm not "stalking" anyone's posts - this is a topic that interests me, being discussed on a public forum, and so I'd like to contribute... :wink:

Anyway, according to the UK Patents Act 1977 (amended), Section 60 (page 46):

Quote:
60.-(1) Subject to the provisions of this section, a person infringes a patent for an invention if, but only if, while the patent is in force, he does any of the following things in the United Kingdom in relation to the invention without the consent of the proprietor of the patent, that is to say -
(a) where the invention is a product, he makes, disposes of, offers to dispose of, uses or imports the product or keeps it whether for disposal or otherwise...

However, the following general exclusion in Section 60.(5)(a) applies for private use (in fact this exclusion was previously mentioned here on TP forum):

Quote:
(5) An act which, apart from this subsection, would constitute an infringement of a patent for an invention shall not do so if -
(a) it is done privately and for purposes which are not commercial;

Now the term "privately" as used here is ambiguous and one could potentially argue that showing off a copied patent on YouTube makes it non-private.
However this is certainly not a clear cut case, because one could also argue that the term "privately" was intended to refer to the "use" of the patent material itself, and has nothing to do with who gets to see the copied product. After all, this Act was written and passed long before the days of YouTube and the internet.

In borderline cases like this, one would usually rely on legal case history to see how the law has been applied and interpreted, but I haven't been able to find any legal cases where a patent was copied for private non-commercial use, and then shown off to the public. This is not surprising, however, because it would not be good business sense for a company to sue an individual for making their own private copy of a puzzle: first it would be difficult to prove that any damages had been caused to the company; second, a private individual probably could not afford to pay any damages (if proven), so the company has nothing to gain anyway; and, finally, the public backlash could potentially create a PR disaster for the company. Just imagine the news headlines: "Company sues lone hobbyist for making private model of patented puzzle". And when it comes to David vs Goliath stories, the media and public tend to support "David" (lone individual) rather than "Goliath" (company)...

However lawyers love to get involved in such cases where the law is ambiguous because the legal battles are often long and highly profitable (at least for them), and they can build their reputation by being associated with landmark cases that end up in student textbooks: "Yes, we were responsible for the X vs Y case, so we not only enforce the law, but help to define it!". Most lawyers will empathise with their clients by saying whatever they think their clients want to hear, in order to get their business and work on such cases: "wow, I can't believe those guys did that to you, we think you have a strong case and can help you win it!" Even lawyers have their own motives and agenda, but the usual result of these cases is that both clients lose out, while only the lawyers win!

But there is one more important reason why a company would never win such a case, and that's due to the second general exclusion in Section 60.(5)(b) of the UK Patents Act 1977 (amended) (page 47):

Quote:
(b) it is done for experimental purposes relating to the subject-matter of the invention;

This "experimental use" exclusion was specifically included in the Patents Act to allow and encourage people to develop further inventions for the benefit of society by experimenting with existing patents, provided that doing so does not infringe those patents by direct commercial exploitation.

Thus, regardless of how the term "privately" is interpreted in Section 60.(5)(a), and whether it may or may not be breached by publication on YouTube, Tony's 11x11x11 puzzle would never be considered illegal due to this additional exclusion in Section 60.(5)(b), especially given that this puzzle had never actually been made before...

In summary, the UK Patent Law is not very clear on "private use" and does not appear to have been challenged for clarification, but it's in nobody's interests to do so (except for the lawyers), and probably not worth arguing in any case as the experimental use exclusion is much more clear cut and relevant in this case.

Above all, don't forget that Governments only award patents on condition that all related patent know how is fully published and disclosed to the public, so that other people can understand it and develop further inventions for the benefit of society. Governments actually WANT patent know how to be published so that it can be developed further, that's how a society progresses through innovation, the law ("experimental use" exclusion) has been specifically defined to allow for this, and there's no better way to support this than allowing people to spread know how (which has already been published any way, as a condition of getting the patent) via YouTube!

Sorry for the huge quote (see text highlighted in bold, not to be taken out of context), but there is something I need clarified:

Is it legal to post mechanism/assembly pictures on youtube or a web page, if the puzzle in question is:

(A) - Commercial puzzle - the mechanism is patented
(B) - Commercial puzzle - the patent is expired
(C) - Custom or private puzzle (ex. handbuilt or STL printed) - no patent exists

My own understanding is that:

"A" is legal grey area? I don't know.
"B" is fair game, legally and ethically.
"C" would be ethically wrong, without the inventor's consent.

Could someone please clarify these for me?

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 Post subject: Re: Good puzzle questions for a lawyer...
PostPosted: Wed Jan 13, 2010 12:02 am 
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stardust4ever wrote:
Is it legal to post mechanism/assembly pictures on youtube or a web page, if the puzzle in question is:

(A) - Commercial puzzle - the mechanism is patented
(B) - Commercial puzzle - the patent is expired
(C) - Custom or private puzzle (ex. handbuilt or STL printed) - no patent exists
I am no expert of course, but it would seem A and B can't really be illegal when the patent itself is a public document that requires the very mechanism diagrams you are asking about. The mechanism is no secret or it couldn't have a patent.

The issue where there seems to be some contention is the legality and ethics of building a patented puzzle privately and displaying it in a fashion available for the public to view. Displaying the mechanism (which, by the way, hasn't been done with Tony and friend's 11x11x11) of a patented puzzle, regardless of who built it, doesn't seem like a legal problem it is the existence and display of the physical object that is the test of the definition of the words "public" and "private".

I think I agree with you on C, I would think that ethically it is up to the inventor to give consent for revealing such details.

I'm not sure how the huge quote applies to this issue though.

Dave

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 Post subject: Re: Good puzzle questions for a lawyer...
PostPosted: Thu Jan 14, 2010 11:14 pm 
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VeryWetPaint, there is no special privilege to the patentee, and sorry if it was misunderstood.
I could expand a lot more, but explaining and travelling are some things that may take time.

As stated in my previous post, I agree with your detailed explanation. A provisional patent
helps in the way that a normal patent can follow. And this is very important.

:)


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