[Discuss] OSHW questions

David Boyhan david.boyhan at gmail.com
Wed Nov 21 19:23:02 UTC 2012

I am a lawyer but I'm not a patent lawyer. I'm completely confused 
though by the notion of advising my clients not to research something. 
 From a corporate / business standpoint, this could be the worst advice 
I ever gave a client.

I can vaguely see an argument that (1) finding a similar patent will 
prejudice you and make you less likely to pursue your idea because 
someone else has already done something similar, and (2) once the other 
work is done, the patent attorneys doing the prior art search will find 
the relevant patents anyway.

It's just that the advice sounds a little like the client who once told 
me, years ago, only half-jokingly "we really want to buy this company, 
so don't do too much due diligence."

I'm just imagining the deposition:

"Did you think there might already be a patent on your idea?"
"Did you look for one before you began to infringe my client's patent?"
"Why not?
"My lawyer told me not to."

j. eric townsend wrote:
> As so many of us have learned to say, "I am not a lawyer and this is 
> not legal advice."   Also, I'm in the US if that matters much...
> On 11/21/2012 4:52 AM, Andrew Katz wrote:
>> If you contribute to a project under an agreement which requires
>> you to warrant that you have no knowledge of any potentially 
>> conflicting patents,
>> having done a search could be a bad thing [...]
> I worked in consumer electronics from almost 20 years and never 
> personally received "don't research patents" from a legal team.  I 
> have heard "don't copy patents" (obviously :-) and "try not to look at 
> current patents while you do research".  I always gathered that was 
> about accidentally copying, not getting into a legal bind.  Working 
> with national and international technology standards requires a lot of 
> reading of other people's research and development documents.  (ex: 
> how cable TV works, how transmitted television works, how analog 
> modems work, etc.)
> That being said, in the past five years or so, I have heard quite a 
> few engineer and startup types say they have received "never look at 
> any patents" advice from their legal counsel, it's mostly been people 
> involved with selling 3d printers and related technology.  I suspect 
> there is a virtual landmine of patents around 3d printing and related 
> technology, but I haven't looked yet. :-)
> --jet

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