Jim Walker and Wayne Breyer of KBSO Law chat with MEMS Industry Group:
Q: It’s our round – what are you having?
A: A hot dark chocolate please – maybe with an amaretto shot. Dark chocolate is known to be an antioxidant. Less well known, perhaps, is that it also stimulates brain activity. A little alcohol tossed in can also serve to improve creativity (and lighten the mood) – if the studies are to be believed.
Furthermore, it provides a reason for whipped cream!
Q: A great picture is worth a thousand words – please show us yours.
A: An early integrated MEMS device. Developed in 1987 by Bell Labs scientists (including James Walker), such surface-micromachined polysilicon mechanical structures were presented at Transducers ‘87 and also published in Newsweek magazine. They formed the basis for many fundamental studies on MEMS technological issues, such in-use friction and wear, and the impact of extended HF exposure on silicon devices.
Q: What’s hot in MEMS and what is your company’s role in it?
A: In addition to its contributions across many other application areas, MEMS is beginning to change healthcare as we know it – improving diagnostic capability, as well as enabling health monitoring in ways that were inconceivable a few short years ago.
Our role is to work with our clients to identify valuable ideas and protect them in a way that best provides a competitive advantage. In addition to having decades of practical experience in MEMS research and development, we have over twenty years of experience in protecting IP in the MEMS and life sciences areas. That combination uniquely qualifies us to support our MEMS clients in the healthcare space.
Q: What would you like the MEMS community to know about intellectual property?
A: A patent enables its owner to keep others from making, using, or selling an invention. It does NOT, however, give the patent owner the right to use that invention because such use might infringe another’s patent. Consequently, it is important to understand what has been patented by your competition, as this will determine your ability to operate. Advice of patent counsel is indispensable in this regard.
It is also helpful to know whether your product space is particularly litigious, as patent litigation is extremely expensive. Areas such as the medical device space, for example, are known to be contentious and it is better to know that the waters in which you desire to swim are filled with sharks.
Q: What is the biggest misconception regarding intellectual property and the MEMS space?
A: Many people believe that qualities, such as smaller size or being monolithically integrated, in and of themselves, provide a basis for patentability. They do not. On the other hand, if miniaturization (for example) enables an operational advantage unobtainable at a larger scale, a case for patentability might exist. This is where a true understanding of MEMS technology and its intersection with patent law can make a difference.
Q: What are one or two MEMS products you won’t be able to live without and why?
A: The ability to rapidly diagnose and treat life-threatening diseases, such as Ebola, cancer, and the like, is fast becoming a critical need. As a result, disease-detection systems based on rapid cell-sorting and lab-on-a-chip technology is going to play a vital role.
Q: Anything special you wish to comment on to the MIG newsletter audience?
A: Members of our team began in MEMS research in the mid-1980s. As a result, we have been part of the MEMS community from nearly its beginning. In fact, we boast over 60 issued patents in the MEMS and optics areas from our time in these research areas. In most cases, we already speak the language of our MEMS clients and are able to streamline the patenting process, thereby removing much of the pain many inventors associate with the process.
In addition, having a strong technical background enables us to work more closely with our clients to mine their technology and identify inventions that they, themselves, might have overlooked.
For more information, please visit: www.kbsolaw.com