In Silicon Valley, Apple just won big against Samsung in the patent lawsuit of the year, after trading claims and counterclaims of pilfered product ideas. In a federal court in Florida, an inventor named Mark Stadnyk is waging a different kind of patent warfare.
Stadnyk, who holds a patent on a motorcycle windshield, is suing the government, aiming to head off a patent law he says will favor big companies and hurt lone inventors like himself. He filed a suit last month that challenges the constitutionality of the America Invents Act. Stadnyk and his lawyer — along with some academics, entrepreneurs, and venture capitalists — say the legislation is a triumph of corporate lobbying that threatens America’s stature as the leading innovator.
The current system, called ‘‘first to invent,’’ relies on notebooks, e-mails, and early prototypes to establish the date of an invention. The impending law would award patents to inventors who are ‘‘first to file’’ with the patent office.
Stadnyk speaks of a patented idea as a uniquely human property right: ‘‘It came out of your mind, It’s not property you bought or inherited.’’
The first-to-file system is intended to streamline the current system, which can invite litigation between competing inventors. President Obama said the law would cut ‘‘the red tape that stops too many inventors and entrepreneurs from quickly turning new ideas into thriving businesses.’’
Opponents say it will give big companies a huge advantage and touch off a paper chase to the patent office instead of a race to innovate. Yet Conress is “fairly free to do as it sees fit to promote innovation,’’ said Arti K. Rai, at Duke University School of Law.