Cochran Freund & Young LLC
Public Hearings Concerning the Evolving Intellectual Property Marketplace
I am a registered patent attorney with over thirty-three years in private practice representing mostly small and mid-sized, very entrepreneurial R&D and manufacturing companies and a few large corporations in obtaining and licensing patents in the United States and many European, Aisian, Australian, Canadian, and Middle Eastern countries. My clients are the kinds of companies that occupy the industrial park buildings up and down the Colorado Front Range and are typical of the kinds of businesses that provide jobs and economic diversity and vitality to communites, towns, and cities all over the United States. There are some amazing technologies being developed in those companies, many of them too innovative, experimental, and lacking proof of marketability for larger companies to undertake. A common goal is to attract enough investment capital to sustain them with the freedom and flexibilty to innovate and develop their technologies to the point of being technically sound and then to develop enough market interest to become an attractive acquisition target for a larger corporation. If they are successful in these endeavors, and IF they have been able to protect their inventions and developments with patents and trade secrets, then they may be able to sell their companies or to license their technologies and patents to larger, established, corporations that have the financial and marketing capabilities to take the new technologies and products to the next level of national and international sales. Others of my clients are mid-sized businesses that develop niche products to serve specific industries. Often their sales engineers see specific problems their customers are encountering and have not been able to solve. In those cases, my clients see new product and potential sales opportunies, if they can figure out a way to solve the problems for their customers economically and practically. So, they give the problems to their sharpest scientists or engineers, and they invest time, dollars, and resources into seeing what they can develop. Sometimes it comes to nothing, but if they are successful, they can add new products to their line that customers will buy to eliminate the problems that instigated the development. If not for strong patent protection, the company's competitors would copy the new product in an instant and probably be able to sell it cheaper to the customers, because the competitor would not have to recoup the research and development costs. Strong patent protection is vital to these entrepreneurs to provide the cover for attracting and investing of risk capital and resources to develop new technologies and products. They do not have the financial resources to litigate patent infringement suits against large corporate pirates that could litigate them into bankrupcy or submission, especially if the large infringer can even lose the litigation and still walk away with minor or easily affordable damages. A secondary benefit of a strong patent system is that my clients and their competitors, knowing they cannot afford to infringe each others' patents, actually keep coming up with better technologies and solutions by designing around each others' patents. This secondary benefit is rarely discussed, but it is very real. I see it every day in my practice. Very often, when I advise a client that it cannot put a feature in a product because it will infringe a competitor's patent, before long my client comes back with a better, more innovative solution. Therefore, strong patents actually promote more innovation from competitors rather than stifle it. My small to mid-sized clients need a strong patent system to survive, succeed, and provide good, clean, jobs with decent wages in our communities. Our country needs a strong patent system now more than ever.