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Profit from Ideas
Last month you read "It's patently hard to profit from ideas" by Laura Lane and Michael Koryta, which discussed the difficulties involved in making profit from ideas. It is true that not all patents make the inventors rich. However, it is important to note that patents are a great value to any company in this age. Without patent protection most of the companies loose incentive to do any research in developing new inventions, e.g., new medicines.
Patenting is one of the ways to protect your intellectual property that includes ideas, expressions, inventions, unique names, business methods, industrial processes, compositions, products etc. Other intellectual property protections include copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets, etc.
The patent gives a right to stop others from copying the patented invention. However, this right is only for a limited period of twenty years from the filing date of the patent application. So, the life of the monopoly granted depends on the time required for "prosecution," the process of securing a patent.
One may ask, "why a free society like America or India would grant a monopoly that appears to go against the grain of free enterprise?" A monopoly creates an unfair advantage to the holder of the monopoly, doesn't it? When a government grants a patent, it is creating a monopoly indeed. However, a patent is a beneficial monopoly that is granted in return of full and complete disclosure of the invention for the benefit of the society. An alternative to patent is a trade secret, which keeps the knowledge carefully guarded from public. Thus, a patent is a contract between the public and the inventor whereby the inventor gets the protection form copying free-riders and the whole world gains the knowledge for further development of new ideas and inventions.
Many people erroneously believe that just by procuring a patent they will make money. In reality, as mentioned before, patent protection offers only a right to prevent others from making or using your patented product or method. Making and selling the products or methods that are protected by patents is the only way one can make money. One can earn money by commercializing the patents by establishing a company that makes and sells the patented invention, sell the patent to a prospective buyer who may make and sell the invention, or license the patent to someone who is interested in making and selling the invention. Companies can tap their intellectual property to generate revenues through licensing, boost earnings, improve return on investment for R&D, raise corporate valuations, use IP as a bargain chip in mergers, acquisition and joint ventures, acquire exclusive rights to emerging markets and so on.
Money, a lot of it, is required to obtain a patent and more is needed to maintain it. Patenting is a time consuming and expensive process, averaging anywhere from 10 to 100 hours of a patent practitioner to prepare a patent application. Most patent practitioners charge anywhere between $75 and $350 per hour. The average fee for preparing a patent application is somewhere between $4000 and $10,000. This does not include filing, prosecution and other patent office fees.
It looks like an expensive endeavor or a hobby for the rich! How on earth an individual inventor struggling to make ends meet can procure protection for her/his inventions? Let us discuss that next month.
Father of World Wide Web
Tim Berners-Lee received the first Millennium Technology Prize, a $1.2 million cash prize, for creating the World Wide Web. The prize committee agreed, citing the importance of Berners-Lee's decision never to commercialize or patent his contributions to the Internet technologies he developed and recognizing his revolutionary contribution to humanity's ability to communicate. Finnish President Tarja Halonen presented the government-subsidized biennial award. The cash prize is among the largest of its kind; Berners-Lee is the first recipient. The prize committee outlined the award to be given for "an outstanding innovation that directly promotes people's quality of life, is based on humane values and encourages sustainable economic development." Berners-Lee, who is British and was knighted in December, has mostly avoided the fame and the fortune won by many of his Internet colleagues. Despite his prize, he remained modest about his achievements. "Building the Web, I didn't do it all myself," Tim said. "The really exciting thing about it is that it was done by lots and lots of people, connected with this tremendous spirit." Berners-Lee took concepts that were well-known to engineers since the 1960s, but it was he who saw the value of marrying them.
Schering-Plough Corporation announced that the European Commission has granted approval of Remicade(R) (infliximab) in the European Union (EU) as first-line therapy for the treatment of early rheumatoid arthritis. Remicade, in combination with methotrexate, is indicated for the reduction of signs and symptoms, as well as the improvement in physical function in patients with severe, active and progressive disease not previously treated with methotrexate or other disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs.
Most of arthritis drugs on the market either treat just the symptoms, or employ a broader, more scattershot effect against the underlying process. Such drugs can have toxic side effects because they kill healthy cells along with the diseased ones. The latest promising research published in the New England Journal of Medicine, looked at a drug called rituximab. The results indicate that the drug has relieved rheumatoid arthritis by knocking out a certain type of immune cell, an approach that could open the way for precisely targeted, "smart" treatments for the joint disease and other illnesses. Rituximab, sold under the brand name Rituxan, is already approved for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, targets B cells.
Watson Pharmaceuticals, Inc., announced that the European Union's Commission of the European Communities has granted marketing authorization to Watson's oxybutynin transdermal product for the symptomatic treatment of urge incontinence and/or increased urinary frequency and urgency as may occur in patients with unstable bladder.
Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., headquartered in Israel, is among the top 25 pharmaceutical companies and among the largest generic pharmaceutical companies in the world. Teva announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has granted final approval for the company's ANDA for Metformin HCl Extended-Release Tablets, 500 mg. Shipment of this product will begin immediately. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has also granted final approval for the Company's ANDA for Adenosine Injection USP, 3 mg/mL, which was submitted by the Company's subsidiary SICOR Inc.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved generic versions of the antibiotic Cipro, which gained fame during the Anthrax crisis as providing possible protection against the toxin. Among the 11 companies to win approval for their generics were Bausch & Lomb, Mylan Laboratories Inc., Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, Ranbaxy Laboratories, Dr. Reddy's Laboratories Ltd., Par Pharmaceutical Companies Inc., Ivax Corp. and Eon Labs Inc. Cipro is made by Bayer AG of Germany and generates annual sales of about $1 billion.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved estradiol transdermal system of Berlex, the U.S. affiliate of Schering AG, Germany, an advancement in osteoporosis prevention in a convenient transdermal patch. This patch delivers such a low dose of plant-derived estrogen that it can be used in women with or without a uterus. Menostar is a clear, dime-sized, once-a-week patch that delivers half the dose-only 14 micrograms per day-of the lowest currently available dose of transdermal estrogen therapy for post-menopausal osteoporosis prevention.
Pharmion Corporation announced that Thalidomide has been approved in Turkey for the treatment of multiple myeloma after the failure of standard therapies as well as for the treatment of a severe and debilitating complication of leprosy.
Ranbaxy Pharmaceuticals Inc. announced tentative approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, to manufacture and market Fenofibrate. Total market sales for Tricor(R) (Fenofibrate Tablets) were $669 million in a total Fenofibrate market of $675 million.
New gourmet coffees might result from investigations by researchers in Hawaii. Agricultural Research Service scientists at the U.S. Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center and their Hawaii Agriculture Research Center colleagues are discovering more about the genetic makeup of this popular tropical crop. Their studies should benefit coffee lovers as well as coffee growers. Both research centers are located in Aiea, just outside of Honolulu.
(Om! Lead the world from wrong path to the right path, from ignorance to knowledge, from mortality to immortality and peace!)
One World One Family