There has been a lot of talk over the years about overhauling the patent system. One of the problems with it is that it doesn’t protect the little guy very well.
For one thing, there are no patent police. If someone infringes on your patent, you have to find out about it on your own. And when you do find out about it, nothing happens. Like I said, there are no patent police. You can write a letter to the company or individual infringing on your patent, but if they don’t honor your patent at that point, you have to take legal action yourself. That means hiring your own lawyers and paying your own court fees.
This has caused some large companies to adopt the strategy of basically lawyering you to death. They will use every legal trick in the book to drag things out and cost you as much as possible in lawyer and court fees. Most little guys can’t afford this financially, and just give up.
If you are reluctant to shell out $5k for the patent, how willing are you going to be to spend possibly hundreds of thousands on fees spread out over several years to defend your patent?
Many small companies don’t even consider patents to be worth the cost of defending them. Big companies have deep pockets, and they can just write off these costs as part of doing business. For individuals and small companies though, the cost to defend the patent may just be too great.
That said, defending your own patent is possible. Just be aware that it can be very, very, very difficult.
I’m an engineer and I don’t have much legal knowledge, but my understanding of the patent process is that trying to do it without an attorney is very foolish. The patent has to be described in very precise legal language. For example, if you make the patent too detailed, then all someone needs to do is change some inconsequential detail and they can claim they don’t fall under your patent. On the other hand, make it too vague and all-encompassing, and it won’t be specific enough to be enforceable. You need an attorney.