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Abstract

The cost of enforcing patent rights is discouraging the small-entity inventor from seeking out patent protection. The United States Patent and Trademark Office favors the “small entity” by reducing fees, but the world of infringement litigation offers no such discount. For the small entity, the costs related to asserting or defending its patent rights against a well-funded adversary often exceed the benefits of patent ownership. These inventors, in weighing the high costs of patent protection against the potential profits, may simply choose to not patent their innovations. Such a decision would deprive the public of the invention’s disclosure and ultimately contribute to defeating the purpose of the patent system. This comment proposes several solutions to the financial dilemmas faced by small entities when evaluating whether the benefits of disclosing an innovation are worth paying the often high price of patent protection.

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