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The cost of having a good idea

by Half-Lady Lisa

August 3, 2016

Think—if you have to patent your idea, what first comes to your mind? Shouldn't finding a good lawyer be the thing people would be worried as much as the legal fee? Is your voice tremble when asking about its legal fee? Another way, I choose to ask my lawyer through an email before making an appointment.

As I now experience, it gives me to know the real cost for how much need in taking out the retirement fund to pay for a good idea. After the payments are paid, the patented processes begin with the search—the search’s fee is affordable but can’t say that it’s cheap. Next, the design patent (and the utility patent if necessary) is filed—it’s still affordable but you must know that this affordable fee applies to only one country (the US patent). Then the unaffordable goes to the ‘international patents’ which cause me to begin counting in my mind how many countries there are in the world. Back to my high school years taking a geography class, never care to know how many countries on the world map—now, really, it becomes importance to know. Although, you may select only some countries that have big markets, still the legal fees can end up six digits or about a down payment of a luxurious home. Irony, this might be why kids in poor countries don’t want to create good ides because producing counterfeit goods would invest a lot lesser. I understand and accept that every business and investment has its cost to pay and my lawyer’s fee doesn’t overcharge. But imagine, you are a young student who is just graduated with a good idea you are always excited to show to the world but because you are still young, you don’t have a long credit history for getting a loan, however this would not be a problem at all if your dad is a billionaire, would be? The US patent’s (one country patent) fee is reasonable to add into the cost of doing business; this legal fee you can borrow from your parents even though they are not a billionaire but the international patents waste too much. If you don’t choose to file for the international patents, you are still worried all the time that other countries will quickly steal your idea and block you to expand your business in the future. I can understand how difficult, before the internet generation, to do the search for which ideas are already filed on the opposite side of the world or in small islands and remote countries. Until the idea spreads throughout the world can take time slowly that a company may not need to rush filing international patents. But in this generation, with the technological improvement, a good idea can spread throughout the world within a blink. As doing the search and filing patent can be done much easier now, why the patented fee is still high. When lawyers do the search, they will search through out the world whether patents are intended to be filed only in the US or international countries as well. Therefore, I believe, each patent, which has been filed in a country, should automatically become the ‘universal patent’ which there is no need to file for the international patents. The international patents generally are the copy of the patent that is already filed in one country. The cost of filing the international patents which will add into the cost of doing business will make it likely impossible for young middle-class and low income people to start their businesses by themselves. The longer time to recover the money invested in, the higher risk in doing business.

Next, let think together if now you already have a US patent, what you are told all the time to trust your patent and its law that no one can copy your idea, aren't you?—But really? If someone who lives on the opposite side of the world steals your idea, what do you think you can do to protect your idea? Hire a lawyer? How much it costs to fly to that country and how many days you have to stay there? In the court, do you understand their language? Or you may need to pay more for a translator. Big companies can pay for all these costs but small companies can’t do anything to protect their idea even with the patent in their hands. Moreover, although big companies can afford to pay the high costs in suing someone in the international courts, the chance to win the case is very slim when the judgment taking place in the defendants’ country should be likely to favor their people so the millions of dollars spent on the lawsuit should be likely to go to waste. Now the question I keep asking myself is that ‘why do I need to file for the patent?’, when the patented offices only try to collect high fees, their legal systems make it so difficult for me, as the patented owner, to enforce the law to protect my idea. For small companies, don’t even think about going to the international courts, only traveling from East to West coast is hard to bear the costs. Then they have to forget it but allow scammers undeniably the infringement continues.

So, I am asking the lawmakers and the people who have power to change the courts' systems to be fair to patented owners in making this law more powerful. In this generation, the courts' systems can be done through internet access with no need for patented owners and the defendants to present themselves in courts. How this can be done:

First, as you have strong evidence that a company oversea steals your idea, you file a lawsuit via internet, similar seen from the copyright filing's web site. In this case, you login the court’s website, open the case by leaving information such as name and address of the company you are suing along with a brief title of what reason you are suing for. Then the international court will notify and give the defendant the case number so they can find their case on the court’s web site. If a US company is suing a Chinese company in China, the international court will be randomly selected to be fair to both countries such as a court in Paris will handle the case. Both the US and Chinese companies don’t need to travel to Paris but they may hire a law firm in their local areas to represent them. The lawyers on both sides will login the court’s web site and find their cases by the case number. Each case the court will give them enough time based upon how big of the case to make arguments such as between six months to one year. The US company will start the argument then the Chinese company will respond, they can dispute as many times as it makes them feel confident to win the case within a given time, like normally seen in the thread emails. Both sides can also upload the evidences and important documents they have into the court’s web site. In case of settlement, the lawyers on both sides can also choose to discuss outside the court's web site such as through telephone calls, and leave the result of the settlement for the judge to know at the end of the arguments then the case will be closed. In case, there is no agreement by the due date, the judge will read the arguments from the beginning to the end and notify both sides the court’s verdict. In case, if the judge is still skeptical and look for more evidences in some areas, the decision date can be extended for such as another three months, or if the companies need more time to prepare for the case and to find more evidences, they can ask the judge to extend more time. In some cases which required having juries, each jury also doesn’t need to present in court but read the arguments at home and leave the decision and the reasons of their decisions on the court’s web site. Or instead of having jury, the court can set a group of judges for each case, such as three judges (who may live in different countries) handle each case and they can work independently.

Not only can the online court be used in the international courts for the case of the patented infringement, it can be also used in small claim courts within the country. Think like your company is based in Boston but have to sue someone in California for an unpaid service of $2,500. Although the claim is only small amount of money, it is important to every business. Would you be stupid enough to fly to California when the 2,500 dollars won’t pay for air ticket, hotel cost and your value time, except you have a vacation over there at that time then take this chance a half day on the vacation to go to the small claim court but you may have to wait in a long line and it can be a very boring day? In the small claim court’s systems we are using right now, generally the judge will allow both sides to make arguments in front of the judge which means that both you and the defendant must present in court; in this part I would like to suggest that it can be done online to avoid wasting time in traveling to court. Also it is to avoid being stressful when some days the judge may have to handle 15-20 cases which can cause his brain become blur, yet unable to take a short break for a cup of coffee or using a restroom in case of having diarrhea. As being so tired in a long day, it can lead into misjudgement or having a poor quality of judgement. Moreover, think about the courts' systems we are using now, you suppose to win the case but because you are a naïve guy who is always nervous standing in front of a class since your school years, you simply lose the fight to a woman who has a long history of winning the debates. With her fluently speaking, words fire from her mouth like a machine-gun shoot you to dead in front of the judge. Your brain just goes dumb so you forgot all the evidences you have prepared for weeks to present to the judge. In another case, irony you realize that sometimes being born as male can make you lose the case, when you are suing a pregnant woman who keep crying like waterfall in front of a male judge. The new online court’s systems, I suggest, allow you to get rid of the nerve, and give enough time to think in your office and scrutinize each word and sentence before typing your arguments. In the small claim case, normally you do not need to hire a lawyer but everyone can consult with co-workers, friends and family. Think, if you have to present yourself in court and standing in front of the judge, who you can consult with in case that your brain just blacks out for a minute. In the case of English as a second language, the person will have time at home check out the meaning of words in a dictionary. As often it’s hard for the case's winner to collect money from the case's loser in small claim case, from $2,500 you can collect a thousand you are very lucky so the process in the claim and the courts’ systems should be very less cost.

Next, after you win the case, whether in a small claim case or the international patented infringement case, you can bring the court’s verdict to collect your money. The courts’ web sites may allow debt collectors advertise on their web sites or the debt collectors may know you somehow as the winner then contact you by themselves; you may have many choices to choose for the best deal. You don’t need to fly oversea or from East to West coast to foreclose someone’s property but let the debt collectors who live in that area do the job for you. Now, I think about the beginning time of buying songs and movies change their ways to download online, many times I believe you also see on the news that some people are sued for millions of dollars per song in the case of an illegal download. If you think that being sued for millions of dollars is so scary, it has to be because now you don’t hear this news anymore. But for the international case of illegal download, what can you do about if the international courts’ systems are still unchanged their ways. You want Hollywood movie and music companies travel oversea to sue an individual person who may have nothing to pay? Does it sound ridiculous? Or asking their governments to help stopping illegal activities?—They are not willing to help because their people are losing benefits. But in my suggestion, movie and music companies can sue people around the world by just sitting in their offices then share the profits with debt collectors in those countries to foreclose their houses and cars and freeze their bank accounts. Next, like it’s used to happen in the US, put this on the news in those countries as an example to scare them, this illegal downloads will be stopped immediately because law is now powerful to patent and copyright owners. Law is powerful because the punishment is real and tough! Think what’s happening today when someone steals your patent and copyright, instead laws are on your side, they bias to all the thieves by setting difficult and complicated court systems so patent and copyright owners have to give up pursuing their cases—is this fair? Laws should help patent and copyright owners to claim their loss.

The infringement in the case of book, music and movie

Book, music and movie are special cases which are different from other products. Before I get into the point, let imagine this first: you set a party at home for 20 people then you order one Pad Thai noodle for 8 dollars so each of the 20 has to eat only a small bite. The question is ‘can you go back to complain the restaurant owner that the noodle dish is so small that isn’t enough to fill everyone’s stomach?’ The restaurant owner would suggest you that—‘next time you pay more money by ordering 20 boxes of Pad Thai noodle.’ In this case, price and quantity are met; you pay more to get more. By sharing one box of the noodle to 20 people isn’t against the restaurant’s business. However, you buy one book then 20 people ask you—‘is that a good book?’ You say ‘yes,’ but ‘don’t buy it because the author is not our member. I have one copy, we can circle it around’. Book isn’t like Pad Thai noodle because 20 people share one book, all get the same value. You order one movie DVD then invite everyone in town to watch in your home, everyone gets the same value. The price of one book, one movie and one music DVD is set for one audient, not a group of audients but often there are no limitation by the number of audients. Or a free copy of a book given to a specific person as a free sample or as a promotion can’t be circled around because the copyright owner doesn’t permit the use of the free copy for sharing and passing it to others. By using the author’s copyright as a tool against the author’s business without permission should be considered infringement even though you don’t make any business because you don’t charge anyone money from the copy you own.

Here is a question: is it fair to authors and publishers when Amazon, eBay, Craiglist and many of web sites allow books, music and movie DVDs to be resold as used on their web sites without the permission from the copyright’s owners? As an author, I have never been asked by these web sites whether or not I permit them to resell my copies.

Used books, music and movie DVDs are different from other used products. For example, once people own a car, generally they don’t resell their car quickly but keep it for a while. Even someday they decide to sell their cars, the sale of used cars isn’t against the auto manufacturers. New cars are still produced even though the numbers of used cars in the market are high. This is because the depreciation limits the value of the cars: used cars’ owners may need to call AAA more often than buying new. Moreover, in term of feeling: new cars can be used to show off friends and neighbors. The numbers of the driver are also limited by auto insurance. AAA also asks for the numbers of the driver; if the car is shared, you need to pay more for coverage other drivers. Another case, you buy a shirt, generally you don’t resell it right away. The sales of used clothes in the market are not against the clothe manufacturers because used clothes are limited by the value: people don’t want to smell other people’s odor, or care about hygienic and worn-out fabric. Furniture stays in one home. Even when they are left on the sidewalk for free as the owners move out, maybe no one wants to take them. For books, music and movie DVDs, everyone can enjoy the same stories in the book from first to last page, enjoy the same quality of pictures and sounds from used DVDs as much as new. When you order one book, you take two hours to read it then you don’t want to keep it anymore, you resell it right away. Therefore, the sale of used books, movie and music DVDs is competing against the manufacturers’ business. New books and DVDs can’t be sold very cheap because there are printing cost, editing cost, graphic designers, marketers, advertisers and other costs to pay, but the used can be sold very cheap because there is no cost.

Imagine, you, as an author, advertise your book, the first sale gives enough to pay bills. The second time you want to advertise your book again, you pause, because many people already own your book so you are not sure that the advertising cost you are going to pay the second time should be rather help others to sell used than it help you? Everyone has a dream of success, even though you don’t own any intellectual property you also have a dream of success in your career. Authors and publishers, music and film makers and literature students should be proud of what they do and create more ideas to serve markets but the broken business systems and unfair rules of the used's web sites hold these businesses back from moving forward. Advertisers, editors and graphic designers suppose to earn more but their businesses are cut short. Agents and publishers keep rejecting good authors because their businesses are uncertainty. It kills many jobs.

Amazon, eBay, Craiglist and other web sites selling used books and DVDs should change their rules to be fair to copyright owners. It isn’t fair that copyright owners get paid only one time for each new book and DVD is sold. They don’t receive any profit from the sale of the used copies. However, these web sites get paid every time whether new or used is sold. The web sites that allow selling used books and DVDs should send a form to authors and publishers to ask for permission to sell used copies. In the forms, they should ask for how many percent of the sale of each used copy sold are fair to copyright owners. Some authors may say, for example, 40% which means that each time each used copy is sold, the web sites have to hold 40% of the sale and pay to the copyright owners. Some copyright owners may say that they don’t want any profit from used copies so they will fill the form as 0% because their purpose in writing a book is not for doing business but to promote themselves such as celebrities and politicians. If a copyright owner fills the form as 100% compensation, it means that he doesn’t allow reselling his copy. I believe that these web sites must change their rules by the reasons that, first, this is ‘an unfair doing business’ (as they set the rules only to favor themselves by getting paid every transactions used copies are sold but copyright owners don’t get a dime). Moreover, copyright owners and publishers have advertising costs to pay then Amazon web site allows used copies to compete selling on the same page while the used's business has no advertising cost to pay. The Amazon web site allows an unfair business competition to occur in their web site. They choose to ignore the fairness to copyright owners as their business partners because this unfair business competition helps to stir the market up only to favor the web site while causing copyright owners and publishers to lose profits for years—this should be considered a wrongful business doing and ignorance by the web site. Secondly, the web sites that allow selling used copies have no permission to open a yard sale on their web sites in using the owners’ copyrights as a tool to compete against the copyright owners’ businesses, which this should be considered infringement. Moreover, schools that allow students to post a sign selling their books after class without sharing part of their profits to copyright owners should be considered as selling used books in the black market, must take responsible for. Although, customers own the body of the books, they don’t own copyrights and contents in the books so they have no rights to resell copyrights and contents without permission from the copyrights’ owners. Third, the price of one copy is set for one individual reader; can a theater charge an audient for a $10 ticket then suggests the audient to invite hundreds of friends to watch the movie for free, just because the owner of the theater owns the place so the movie producers must agree to every of their business rules? I don’t blame the customers who resell their books and DVDs because they sell things the distributing channels are available and markets open for them to resell things but I blame the web sites for an unfair business rules and the intellectual property laws which provide less protection to copyright owners.

Have you ever sympathized at the book stores’ owners? Each of the book stores, often seen, is required having a big space in the size resembling to a warehouse. They would have big rental fees to pay each month. The BORDER store which already closed their business, the one used to be in my neighborhood, for example, even provides a small coffee shop to please their customers on the back of the store. Students sitting at the café pay for one cup of coffee and bring ten books put on the table with a laptop computer to type their papers from store opens to store closes. How much does the store get paid for?—A cup of coffee. Sometimes even worse, some students don’t buy even a cup of coffee. These students have the rights to ask their universities’ library to order books for them because the library cost is already included in their tuition fees, but they don’t. They prefer to use a book store as their library. A husband sends his wife and daughter for shopping at the mall, to kill the time he sits on a comfortable sofa in the store reading books he doesn’t pay for. I used to see some teenagers sit on the floor reading comic books for hours. Another case, you are a graphic designed student and you know how to use such as Photoshop program, except just a few new commands you don’t know, what do you do? You don’t buy a Photoshop book because what you need to know is only a few pages in the book. As now having better technology, you use your cell phone to scan or take photos from the book. Why aren’t all the books wrapped plastic, like movie and music DVDs? Once they are unwrapped, customers have to pay for and book stores have to take responsible in keeping an eye on their customers, telling them not to unwrap the package because the publishers won’t accept the returns. For such as the computer books, why don’t publishers break down into small chapters and sell each chapter for a few bucks because the computer programs update their commands each year there are just a few things new so customers feel that waste to pay for the entire book?

Some people ask me many times that are my books available at library? They say that they never buy a book but always borrow from a library. These people love reading and love books. I can’t complain anything because people have the rights to choose the best way that can help them save most. However, as I mention early that the price for one book is set for one reader, does the place that allow a book to be used for multiple readers such as library do fair business to copyright owners? Should libraries buy books at the price ten times more than retail prices? Or if libraries buy books at the retail prices, should publishers be allowed to collect $10 (or as negotiated) per copy, per title and per year as a licensing fee as long as libraries keep the book? If a library thinks that for some books there is no one borrows anymore, they have to return to the publishers or destroy them so publishers will be no longer collecting annual fees. In case the library sells a book to another library, they must report to the publisher so the publisher will send bills to collect the annual licensing fee at another library.

The case of counterfeit products

Every time I think about counterfeit products, in my imagination I always see expensive European handbags so let use this as the example. Believe or not, both authentic handbag companies and counterfeit manufacturers are always jealous at each other. As you walk past 100 people on street, you may see just a few people carries expensive authentic handbags while there may be 50 people carry the counterfeit ones (this also depends on which area you are walking in). Often hear from the US political campaigns—super-wealthy people are “the top one percent”, so if you choose to market your products to ‘the top one percent’, you should know the limit number of your customers. The authentic handbag companies would think that all the big numbers of counterfeit customers should be their customers also, while the counterfeit manufacturers think that they too want their handbags are carried by ‘the top one percent’ customers. The authentic handbag companies may be suspicious that counterfeit manufacturers perhaps make more money than them on their trademark logos, while the counterfeit manufacturers think that if they can charge their customers thousands of dollars per bag, their companies would be worth billions on the stock market too!

Many authentic handbag companies would think that they have spent millions of dollars for advertising campaigns on their names for many decades so this isn’t fair for the counterfeit manufacturers to take advantage over their reputations. I understand that some people don’t have much inspiration for creating a new idea but all they want to be successful entrepreneurs.

Even you ask Governments in each country to enforce, no matter how tough, the law is, they are never able to clean the counterfeits off the street. This is because customers who can’t afford pricey authentic products always desire of having their looks like wealthy customers. But wealthy customers generally don’t want to share the same product brands with customers in lower social classes. That’s why golf courses have to charge their membership fees at the price low-income people can’t afford the same as the prices of expensive authentic handbags.

As it is unable to get rid of the counterfeits anyway, why don’t the authentic handbag companies use them to earn more profits for themselves and allowing them doing business proudly outside shadow?

I don’t mind if a counterfeit company wants to use my trademark logo on their products as long as they pay me fair enough. Think this way if your logo isn’t famous, no one wants to risk his life in jail to copy it. Here how does it work?

For a counterfeit manufacturer to use my logo on their products, they must label it clearly to their customers that their products are ‘replica’ or ‘reproduction’ and my company will not be the person who takes responsible on their design and quality.

Next, the counterfeit manufacturer must pay the compensations to my company for the use of the trademark logo such as 20% of the whole sale price (or as negotiated). If the counterfeit manufacturer sells each bag to the retailers at a wholesale price of 10 dollars per bag, I want 2 dollars of each bag they produced.

Next, the counterfeit manufacturer must give my company all the lists of their retailers, including the business names and addresses they distribute their bags to, and the quantity each retailer carries the bag in their stores. If the retailers sell each bag for 35 dollars, they must pay my company 30% of each bag they carry in store, not by the number of bags are sold so that my company can collect fees as soon as the bags are shipped to each retailed store. Although, they pay compensations, to produce the replica/reproduction is still considered infringement but the compensations they pay are considered as the court settlement so the counterfeit manufacturers and store owners don’t need to be arrested and undergo all the legal processes. This way allows the counterfeit retailers to walk out from shadow. They can also advertise their replica/reproduction on fashion magazines side by side competing to the authentic products, but no jealousy in business at each other anymore because the more the replica earned also add into the authentic companies’ revenues. If a replica manufacturer does a good job by making a great sale and receiving good reviews, honor them by inviting them to join business together so they will be allowed to change their label from ‘replica’ to ‘authenticity’. For authentic handbag companies, think—it doesn’t mean that the ‘top one percent’ customers, at a certain time of their lives, can’t be financial broke but even though they are broke, they still don’t want to see the brands they love move their factories to poor countries. Let change the way authentic companies do business to my way. Let take all the customers from high-end to low-end. As the authentic handbag companies may have to pay millions of dollars for advertising their brands, why not make the money worth by letting the counterfeit products help the authentic companies pay the costs. The counterfeit companies may not have a good marketing team, yet to set up a good working team may cost too much and having high risks of going bankrupted, by paying some parts of profits, think like paying for the cost of having a good marketing team.

However, before letting counterfeit manufacturers producing things on your trademark, we must change the court systems first so the intellectual property owners don’t have to pay too much for the cost of having a good idea.

Cartoon story—The intelsexual property law isn’t fair for Tony

Tony: Hi, Leeza. This is Tony. What are you doing, sexy? Do you have time for me?

Leeza: No.

Tony: Come on, Leeza. You always have time for me.

Leeza: Not anymore.

Tony: What happens today!? I call many escorts but all of them told me that they stop taking appointment. Is today the National Escort Holiday?

Leeza: Don’t you really know something, Tony?

Tony: No! Tell me, what is going on?

Leeza: Now, all the escorts can’t work anymore. Your wife sends a letter to every escort in the City that she now has patented all the sexual positions, sexual techniques and every sexual fantasy. I don’t have any sexual position left to work with you. I try to create a new position and fantasy but couldn’t come up with anything new yet. Not only that, your wife says in her letter that she also trademark your face so no any girl can use her husband anymore without paying her for the license. Her licensing deal costs too high, we can’t afford. Sorry, I can’t help you anything. You have to go back to see your wife.

© 2016, by ½ Lady Lisa. All Rights Reserved.