IP bounty hunters? – using social networks to invalidate IP rights
Relying on a network of people (a social network) can be an incredibly powerful, knowledgeable and creative way to undertake extremely complex tasks. Anyone even vaguely familiar with ‘web 2.0’ knows this at least intuitively. For an easy example, think about Amazon’s incredible (and ever expanding) database of comments and reviews and correlations between seemingly different items bought by each user.
So here’s an interesting proposition – to invalidate a patent, trade mark or registered design (design patent), consider utilising a social network to leverage your chances. The peer-to-patent project is a first example of this in the examination phase and patentlens is making inroads.
A Company which needs to invalidate an IP right could create a contest or even a series of awards or bounties for thosewho come forward with valuable evidence, arguments and (in the case of patents), prior art. This strategy would be equally useful for large companies on the wrong end of a license-enforcement (some would say ‘patent troll’) suit, as well as, for example, generic pharmaceutical companies seeking earlier market entry. Such a strategy could not only turn up interesting documents, but potentially unpublished facts which could also affect validity.
This strategy won’t work in every situation, for example:
- One would have to very carefully think up the communication strategy and rules around the awards
- There’s a real risk that running the program would divert too much management time.
- Telling the world (or at least the network) that you would like help with your arguments is sometimes a very bad idea. However, even this could be mitigated in certain circumstances.
Under what circumstances do you think such a strategy would be really useful?