MonolithIC 3D Inc. Participated at IP Counsel Café, 2012

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Patent Reform: Is it all we hoped for?

MonolithIC 3D Inc. , the Next-Generation 3D-IC Company

MonolithIC 3D Inc. , the Next-Generation 3D-IC Company

Improvement of patent quality is key

MonolithIC 3D Inc. was invited to participate at a panel discussion at the IP Counsel Café in Palo Alto, CA on April 20th, 2012. The company was represented by Brian Cronquist, VP of Technology and IP as a panelist and brought the small startup company view to the debate over the America Invents Act (AIA). Specifically, the panel addressed the question “Do Patents Hurt Innovation?” given the recent rise of the so called patent trolls and the major changes to the patent system with the AIA.

“Are patents hurting innovation? Emphatically No! What the US Constitution says in Article 1 Section 8 has not changed. Teach your invention publically and you will get property rights (for a time) in return. The AIA has not changed that.” says Brian Cronquist. “As well, the fundamental dynamics are still the same. Small companies go where the big ones are not and can move much faster. Small companies have and still do provide most of the innovation in the US; and hence, GNP growth and jobs. What has changed are some of the rules that govern the patent system; especially for those with money and those with little cash.”

The AIA represents the most significant reform of the Patent Act since 1952. The IP Counsel Café conference brought together over 50 high-tech companies and was keynoted by Bernard Knight, the USPTO General Counsel. The switch to First To File from the previous first to invent system is the most fundamental change. Also, various review and challenge mechanisms have been eliminated, changed, or added.

"While patent rights might be abused,” says Zvi Or-Bach, President and CEO of MonolithIC 3D Inc., “history tells us that most of the inventions that enabled the industrial and high tech evolution were from small companies or the individual inventor, and were empowered by the patent law. Specifically at MonolithIC 3D we have been investing heavily to bring a paradigm shift to the semiconductor industry: monolithic 3D-IC technology for logic, memories and electro-optic devices. There was no way for us to do so without the patent law, and chances are that our ability of finding partners to help us make such a shift is directly related to the competitive edge our patents would provide to these partners.”

“We believe first to file is a natural advantage for the small company. We move faster, file faster, and can get the enablement content required into the application quickly. The costs of filing are small when compared to the application prosecution at the PTO (10-50k$), and are completely insignificant when faced with a review (0.5M$) or litigation (2+M$),” said Mr. Cronquist. “We are pleased that the Interference procedure is gone, as that cost small companies significant money to defend their invention even before they had possession of a property with which they likely needed in order to attract funding. However, we are greatly concerned with the addition of the Post Grant review, which can be costly, on the order of 0.5M$ per defense, and with some changes to the Inter Partes review.”

Patent quality was also a subject discussed and the panelists agreed that solving the issues up front at the USPTO is effective, efficient, and preferable when compared with the expensive and time consuming review and litigation proceedings. Can the quality of the patents examined and issued be improved, and can the system be improved to where the speed of issuance matches the speed of innovation?

“Improvement of patent quality is key,” says Mr. Cronquist. “Where is the satellite PTO office in Silicon Valley? This is the region with the largest numbers of innovations [see blog , and satellite office locations are still tied up in politics. As well, Congress had a chance in the AIA to allow the USPTO to actually keep the money it makes, so it can hire the examiners it needs to keep pace with the innovation rate. Congress blew it. It is unlikely that the average 2-3 years for a patent application to be seen for the first time by an examiner will be improved. Early, closer, and more frequent interaction with an unhurried examiner is key to improving the resultant patent quality.”

About MonolithIC 3D Inc.
MonolithIC 3D Inc., based in San Jose, has more than 50 issued and pending patents on the technology, design and architecture of monolithic 3D-ICs. The company was selected as a Finalist of the Best of West 2011, which recognizes the most important product and technology developments at Semicon West. MonolithIC 3D Inc.’s business model involves licensing technology to existing semiconductor manufacturers. More information about MonolithIC 3D Inc., including detailed technical information, can be found at its website.

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Brian Cronquist
MonolithIC 3D Inc.
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