don't patent holders benefit from readability of their patent? any wiki for them to do summaries?

the way patents are worded when published by USPTO is not quite as clear and easy to read as, IMHO, it could be. Now, if the patent holders have a vested interest in making potential users understand just what it is that they have patented and can sell licenses for, why don’t they write clearer descriptions and publish them on some non-government website dedicated to the task?

Or is it the case that patent holders have zero practical interest in making their patents more understandable?

Then they wouldn’t be able to lurk in the background and wait for infringers to get big enough to sue.

They also wouldn’t be able to slide things with obvious prior art by the USPTO so easily.

It would also make it easier for competitors to clearly understand their products and dream up alternatives that don’t infringe.

I think the obfuscated language only helps the patent holders by instilling fear and doubt in all their competitors (look, it COULD be similar enough to this other patent that MIGHT be slightly related…)

For the patent holder who’s an independent inventor, trying to interest someone in investing in their idea (or buying it from them), yes, they’d have a vested interest in making the idea of their invention readable. But, I’m not sure that they’d be using the patent, itself, to do that. If they’re trying to sell the idea, they’re going to work up other materials, demonstrations, etc. for sales, rather than just trying to let the patent sit out there and passively attract attention. (Or, at least, they should be, if they actually hope to have any chance of selling their idea.) But, even then, I would bet that those sorts of things are things that a smart investor is going to want to keep tightly under his own control, rather than just having it widely published, in order to discourage others from attempting to do something similar.

Besides, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that independent inventors make up a tiny percentage of the total patents issued. For everyone else, the “fear and doubt” which Reply mentions seem to be likely reasons to keep things obscure.

  1. Many U.S. patents that you read are based upon foreign (Japanese, German, Taiwanese) counterpart applications that have been translated on a least-cost basis (in some extreme instances, machine translated).

  2. Patent holders benefit from using broad general language to cover alternative embodiments of their concept. Using super-precise, narrow language runs the risk of giving a knockoff artist a roadmap to work around the claims. So if I have a cool idea that turns on fastening A to B, and my commercial product uses a screw to do the fastening, I’d be stupid to claim “a screw fastening A to B,” which would allow someone to avoid literal infringement by using a bolt. Instead, thinking ahead, I’d discuss an “attachment member,” and give examples in the text of the patent that attachment members could include but were not limited to screws, bolts, nails, rivets, etc. Is “attachment member” imprecise? Not if I’ve done a decent job of giving that context.

I think the problem is the OP is suggesting a patent should also be a marketing document. It is a legal document and as such, must be written to provide maximum protection to the inventor. Thus it requires all the legalese and stipulations one comes to expect with legal documentation so that some OTHER lawyer and inventor will have great difficulty finding a workaround.

Oh, well that’s not the case at all. Anyone who pays a license fee is not going to do so because of flowery or easy-to-read language. They’re going to do so only after they’re convinced that not paying a royalty could present them with a bigger problem (inability to use a valuable technology, litigation exposure, etc.), a decision that they will make only after consulting . . . yep, a lawyer, who won’t care one whit if the patent is “clear” or “easy to read,” except in the limit where it is so vague that he identifies a strong defense based on lack of enablement, etc.

Patent language is archaic because there is a sizable body of legal knowledge and precedent on *exactly *what all those archaic formulations mean.

If you wrote your patent application like you or I might, then every sentence would be a potential for misunderstanding that would be a source of litigation.

Whether some proposed innovation is, or is not, covered by somebody else’s prior patent is one of the most critical decision gates on the way to market. Writing a plain-English patent pretty well guarantees that all would-be infringers will be blasting past you & you’d need to expect to litigate each sentence you wrote so “clearly”.
This same issue applies to much else of “legalese”, but in the case of patents we have some very static language / style closely coupled to what is, by definition, the bleeding edge of modern inventing. So the contrast is most stark. Real estate legalese is just as static, but since dirt hasn’t changed much in 600 years, it seems more OK to write about it that way.

For my patents, I could see or got a good explanation for all the hard to read language used, and it all made perfect sense. After all, why say your invention is sliced bread when it could be written for sliced grain product, which covers rolls also.
In any case, when I’ve been asked to survey a set of patents, I could quickly get into the language. Just like reading Shakespeare, for a comparison which may never have been made before in the history of the world.

As to a short and mostly clear summary, all patents have an Abstract on the first page that summarizes more or less accurately what the invention is “about.” (N.B. that the Abstract is generally drafted at the outset of the application, and the claims might change a little or a lot from those originally filed, over the course of the application, in response to rejections, etc.).

I think it’s different from that. While few actually think their decision to buy something is based on how flowery or easy-to-read the language is, the point is to attract interest and get noticed. And, the more appealing the language is, the greater is the probability that this will happen. The issue is whether particular ideas on the margins of one’s possible interest will flip into or out of one’s attention.

I also think the other issues about whether the patent or the documentation surrounding it are the right place to accomplish this are important and likely the deciding factors, but I have to agree with the idea that writing patents differently could aid their being picked up on.

my question was satisfactorily answered by the FUD explanations above.

The OP was not about changing the way patents themselves are written, which is controlled by the legal system, but rather adding more easier to read info on a separate website. If the goal is FUD and not readability, obviously there is no point in so doing.

You’re imagining a world in which someone is out there reading patents as they are issued and deciding which one is “interesting” or should be “picked up on.” That world doesn’t, to a large extent, exist.

There are over seven million U.S. patents. Hundreds issue each week. Do some companies monitor the Official Gazette, where they are published, to track the competitive landscape? Yes, but that is a defensive strategy.

No one wants to pay a license fee. Period. They do so under duress. Licenses don’t happen because some philosopical competitor is reading a few hundred patents and finds one that’s “interesting” and happily goes out seeking to pay for it. Companies start from the default that they probably have all the rights they need to make their products. They conclude otherwise only when (in almost all cases) approached by the patentee. In otherwords, licensing is almost entirely licensor driven, with the licensee dragged more or less kicking and screaming to reluctantly conclude that he can’t easily refute the licensor’s assertion of what his claims mean. The licensor will be more than happy to tell his most-likely licensees (his not-impartial) understanding of what the claims mean or why the licensee might find a license “interesting.”

Your question seemed to me to go to both points, but to take the second one –

Who is going to do that? And for whom? Websites don’t write themselves, and the USPTO already has a fairly robust search engine capability.

I wouldn’t call you the worst offender of this type, but let me just vent, ok? RTF-OP, will ya? Why is it that so many people find it necessary to ask questions that are all clearly set out in the OP?

I read the OP and explained why the patent holder has no incentive to duplicate the time and expense he went to in obtaining his patent to host a secondary website where he inexactly summarizes or re-characterizes the exact language of the patent. None do so, in fact.

So if not them, whom?

No one. No demand, no supply, thus no parallel patent database.

This isn’t literally true. A few companies who are trying to sell off their patents have hosted portals for people to review them. But really, the public databases (USPTO, Google) are very searchable for anyone so inclined, and licensors are less about marketing and more about identifying infringers and demanding royalties, as noted.

Oh yes, the lawyers. try reading your insurance policy.

Also most patents are meant to give as much protections as possible while giving away as little as possible.

The current system is a long ways from its original intent. After all, the word patent means open.