Wednesday, March 19, 2008

WorkTools Inventor's Experience With Taiwanese and Chinese Patents

Mr John Eastman of Black and White interviewed Mr Mike Marks, inventor and co-founder of WorkTools about patent infringements. WorkTools specializes in the development and licensing of patented mechanical products for consumers. The company invents products and enhances products brought to it by others.

According to Mr Marks American companies in general try to work around patent claims,
"[w]hereas companies in Asia, whether by request from a foreign company or on their own, have on occasion knocked us off very explicitly, imitating our tool to a tee."

"I don’t think that a lot of companies even bothered looking at the patent at all, they just saw the product and said oh, this is an item that is being sold and we’re going to just copy it explicitly. Maybe they were unaware of intellectual property laws. I don’t think companies are quite that bad about it today, but 10 or 12 years ago that was definitely the case.
Even though we have enforceable Taiwanese and Chinese patents issued, we have had no success in stopping any Asian companies. We even won at court in Taiwan, and it really did no good whatsoever. Perhaps it would be a little different for us if we were a Taiwanese company."

Read Mr Eastman's interview here

WorkTools is showing their US issued patents on their website, and inform that they can be
contracted to evaluate international and pending patents, see here. That is probably a good decision, transparent and can function as a deterrent. It is also good that you can see that Mr Paul Y. Feng is their outside patent council, partner of Fulwider Patton, which can have an deterrent effect.
The question is, however, why WorkTools doesn't put its Chinese and Taiwanese patents online? Mr Marks said that a lot of companies don't even bother to read patents, but I don't understand why he at least put WorkTools' Chinese and Taiwanese patents online. One can argue whether it works as a deterrent, but at least it would not harm them.

Mr Mike Marks gives the answer to the question why it does not help to have won a judgement in Taiwan here.

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