Inventor forced to close company over patent right


ArchRival

New Member
Sep 17, 2006
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#2
http://www.theonlinecitizen.com/201...y-mindef-to-close-company-over-patent-rights/

Is this true? Does anybody know the complete picture or the other side of the story?

*MODs, feel free to remove this thread if it's against CS rules :)
According to clarification by mindef, it's the contractor mindef engaged to produce the vehicles that's having the lawsuit with the doctor, not mindef.
This was in 2012, not sure anything changed since then.
 

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donut88

Senior Member
Nov 14, 2008
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#3
According to clarification by mindef, it's the contractor mindef engaged to produce the vehicles that's having the lawsuit with the doctor, not mindef.
Well, with that mistakenly faxed legal letter, it says about MINDEF
 

ArchRival

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Sep 17, 2006
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#4
Well, with that mistakenly faxed legal letter, it says about MINDEF
If i understood correctly, that letter was from the vendor to mindef assuring mindef they (the vendor) could successfully evade the patents.
The letter was mistakenly faxed by the vendor to the patent holders.
 

kandinsky

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Apr 26, 2008
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#5
According to clarification by mindef, it's the contractor mindef engaged to produce the vehicles that's having the lawsuit with the doctor, not mindef.
This was in 2012, not sure anything changed since then.
From my reading, it seems to be that perhaps Mobilestats Technologies Pte Ltd sued MINDEF first, but due to a clause in a contract which indemnifies MINDEF from any future lawsuits, the vendor, Syntech Engineers Private Ltd is required to conduct the defence on behalf on MINDEF.

MINDEF Clarifies Lawsuit Representation
We refer to ST's article "Doctor's Claim MINDEF Copied Their Clinic On Wheels" dated 7 Feb 12.

MINDEF would like to clarify that the conduct of the defence of the suit by MobileStats Technologies Pte Ltd (MobileStats) against the Government is by Syntech Engineers Private Ltd ("the Vendor"), which supplied the mobile Battalion Casualty Station ("BCS") to MINDEF. Wong & Leow LLC, which is reported in the various media as representing MINDEF is appointed by the Vendor.

The Vendor was awarded a contract through an open tender to supply MINDEF with a mobile BCS in June 2009. The contract between the Government and the Vendor provides, amongst other things, that the Vendor shall indemnify the Government against any claim for actual or alleged infringement of any Intellectual Property Right arising from the use or possession of the mobile BCS, including the conduct of litigation against any suit arising from such claims.
Colonel Desmond Tan
Director, Public Affairs
Ministry of Defence

http://www.mindef.gov.sg/imindef/press_room/official_releases/fl/2012/13feb12_reply.html
And a later statement (after the court decision?):

MINDEF's Statement on Commercial Dispute Between Plaintiff MobileStats Technologies and MINDEF's Vendor, Syntech Engineers (Suit No. 619 of 2011/R)

The case is a commercial dispute between the plaintiff MobileStats Technologies and the vendor Syntech Engineers, who supplied the mobile Battalion Casualty Station to MINDEF. The vendor did not agree that the plaintiff's patent was valid and was prepared to challenge its validity in court. MINDEF notes that the Court has declared that the patent is not valid, and there is no Intellectual Property infringement. MINDEF would like to take this opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to Intellectual Property Law.

http://www.mindef.gov.sg/imindef/press_room/clarification/09jan14_clarification.html
As creators, I'm sure most of us sympathise with Dr Ting's situation. But at the same time, we would be riled up if someone patented something we considered as overly broad and non-novel (Remember amazon's 'photography on a white background' patent?).

That said, unless the details of the court decision were made public, I guess what we can't really assess for ourselves is whether his patent was sufficiently robust to begin with. What gave this vendor the confidence to make the call that Dr Ting's patent would not hold up if challenged in court?

Found some interesting points made by user theony on reddit:

Some general thoughts:
  • A patent grant is not an absolute guarantee that your invention was validly registered. The examiners who examined your patent are not omniscient. Post-grant, a party can apply to revoke/invalidate your patent on grounds that it was not novel or not inventive or some other valid ground. Don't be surprised if you have a broad-ranging or poorly worded patent and some companies come attacking it.
  • The number of countries in which your patent is registered is not indicative of the quality of your patent. Many countries do not have their own patent examiners (Singapore, for instance). So it's not necessarily a positive indication that examiners around the world have looked at your invention and deemed it novel and inventive enough.
  • Going to court costs money, and you need to prepare that it may last a few years. A case dragging for two years is unusual for Singapore because the Court doesn't encourage it, but not entirely unreasonable if the witnesses you want to call are high-ranking military officials who have busy schedules. You need a block of time for the hearing. You don't want to spread the hearing out over many multiple hearings because people will forget things between hearings and everyone has to take extra time (= money) to refresh their memories before going to that hearing.
http://www.reddit.com/r/singapore/comments/2sh8ts/inventor_forced_by_mindef_to_close_company_over/
 

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kandinsky

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Apr 26, 2008
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#6
Reading up a bit on patent validity, I thought this bit from a draft paper was pretty interesting:

Outcomes of invalidity proceedings
When invalidity proceedings in Germany are concluded with a decision, significantly more than half of all patents are either partially or fully invalidated.

The high rates of invalidation reported above are not specific to Germany. Early studies on U.S. patent litigation unveil an invalidation rate of 60% to 70% for the period 1948 to 1954 (Federico, 1956) and roughly 65% from 1953 to 1978 (Koenig, 1980). Allison and Lemley (1998) report an overall invalidation rate of 46% for the period of 1989 to 1996. More recently,
Mann and Underweiser (2012) find for the years 2003 through 2009 that the Federal Circuit held 60% of the patents in the cases it adjudicated not valid.

In other countries, invalidation rates are in similar ranges. For Australia, Weatherall and Jensen (2005) report a rate of full or partial invalidation of 53% (first and second instance) for the period of 1997 to 2003. Oyama (2012) finds an invalidation rate of 73% at the Japanese district courts, and a UK study examining the years 2000 to 2008 indicates an overall rate of about 50% partially or fully invalid in the first instance (Helmers and McDonagh, 2013). France seems to be special case, with according to Véron (2010) only 27% of the cases before the court of first instance in Paris between 2000 und 2009 resulting in a revocation decision.

Given that globally more than half of all invalidation proceedings concluding with a decision lead to partial or full invalidation of the patent, the question arises which factors correlate with, or even drive, the likelihood of invalidation.

Why most patents are invalid – Extent, reasons, and potential remedies of patent invalidity
29 September 2014
Early draft, comments welcome

Joachim Henkela, b, Hans Zischkaa
a TUM School of Management, Technische Universität München
Arcisstr. 21, 80333 Munich, Germany. henkel@wi.tum.de, zischka@wi.tum.de. +49 89 289 25741
bCenter for Economic Policy Research (CEPR), London, United Kingdom

https://www.tim.wi.tum.de/fileadmin...Henkel_Zischka_Patent_Validity_2014-09-29.pdf
 

Jun 7, 2011
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#7
Thanks for the insights, bros and sis.

From what I know, usually government agencies around the world will try to avoid risky legal battles. It can hurt their public image and resource-consuming, especially if they fight against big corporations (at least in US and/or Europe).

I agree that a patent can always be contested and/or revoked. It's not an omnipotent protection. Then again, if protection is too weak, people will simply seek IP protection somewhere else. This, on the long run, can badly affect young inventors in SG.

Anyway, in this case, it'd be interesting to know the arguments thrown against each other. In line with SG's ambition to be SEA's research hub, hopefully there will be a win-win solution for the parties involved.
 

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Bukitimah

Senior Member
Nov 28, 2010
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#8
Can't they work out something since both are from Singapore? Maybe together they can create another patent!
 

UncleFai

Senior Member
Mar 10, 2010
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#9
I agree that a patent can always be contested and/or revoked. It's not an omnipotent protection. Then again, if protection is too weak, people will simply seek IP protection somewhere else.
Patents in *ANY* country is only valid in that country and can always be contested and/or revoked in that country. That's the game of patent.
 

Jun 7, 2011
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#10
Patents in *ANY* country is only valid in that country and can always be contested and/or revoked in that country. That's the game of patent.
I know that.

I mean.. Correct me if I'm wrong: if IP protection in one country is weak, might as well just do research, dev, and IP registration in a different country. This, in the long run, may demoralize the young researchers in SG.
 

sgciti55

New Member
Feb 1, 2008
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#11
Seems most people assume if you have a patent approved then you own the rights to it regardless. In this case, the contractor to MINDEF feels the patent cannot be enforced for whatever reasons and is willing to go to court to dispute it. That's how things work in capitalism and in the so called "West". Why blame MINDEF or even the government? Anyway, people's ideas get copied and then improved all the time, that's how science progress.
 

ArchRival

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Sep 17, 2006
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#12
Seems most people assume if you have a patent approved then you own the rights to it regardless. In this case, the contractor to MINDEF feels the patent cannot be enforced for whatever reasons and is willing to go to court to dispute it. That's how things work in capitalism and in the so called "West". Why blame MINDEF or even the government?
I doubt anybody's blaming mindef or its contractor for challenging the patent holders in court.

What everyone's unhappy about is mindef and its contractor using unfair means to force the patent holders to hand them the patents.

Note that in this case, the patent holders did NOT even lose the case. The case dragged on for 2 years+ until the patent holders couldn't financially continue, then mindef and contractors offered to settle out of court by demanding the patent holders pay mindef + contractors their legal fees and hand them the patents.

All this is, of course, assuming what the patent holder said is true.

Anyway, people's ideas get copied and then improved all the time, that's how science progress.
I knew one researcher who was researching on a drug. He co-owned the patent to the drug and delivery mechanism. He had a number of successes, but needed more money to bring to drug to market.

Then one day the patent co-owners decided they did not want the patent anymore and would let it lapse. The researcher couldn't buy over and maintain the patent on his own.

The result? There is now no more ip on that drug. No drug company will research or develop to bring it to market. Because if they spent billions getting the drug out, another company will instantly jump in to produce the generic version. So now that drug will never see the light of day.

So who suffers in the end? That drug is for a disease where the sufferers end up all bent and twisted with a deformed spine and then die before 20.
 

UncleFai

Senior Member
Mar 10, 2010
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#13
I know that. I mean.. Correct me if I'm wrong: if IP protection in one country is weak, might as well just do research, dev, and IP registration in a different country. This, in the long run, may demoralize the young researchers in SG.
It is actually illegal - patent for work done in Singapore must be applied first in Singapore.
 

Nov 25, 2007
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#14
Didn't SCDF acknowledge the patent and did pay the inventor for the rights to use the patent? Mindef took the design over from SCDF and produced the final product. And they bullied their way through to the inventor.

Something fishy is definitely going on, and it is not right.
 

kandinsky

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Apr 26, 2008
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#15
Getting very confused about the facts. Would be helpful to see a timeline of how things transpired. One article says the court case was never concluded, one of MINDEF's earlier statement claims that the patent was declared invalid....

Since the court case was never concluded, it is unsure whether the verdict of Wong and Leow LLC’s lawyers that Ting’s patent “lacked novelty and/or inventive step” was really true. Curiously, instead of using this point to fight on legal grounds, MINDEF’s counsel chose to drag the case on for two years, eventually “winning” what Ting calls “a war of attrition.”

https://www.techinasia.com/mindef-singapore-ip-hub/
MINDEF notes that the Court has declared that the patent is not valid, and there is no Intellectual Property infringement.

http://www.mindef.gov.sg/imindef/press_room/clarification/09jan14_clarification.html
Hopefully with the added public interest, someone somewhere will have to clarify things.
 

UncleFai

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Mar 10, 2010
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#17
"The case was actually a commercial dispute between MobileStats Technologies and Syntech Engineers, which supplied the mobile BCS to MINDEF. As the manufacturer of the mobile BCS, the supplier, not the consumer, is responsible for honouring valid patents. MINDEF’s actions were correct and above board. All of MINDEF’s suppliers are required to uphold Intellectual Property laws and obtain the necessary licenses so that MINDEF is free to use the products that we have paid for. MINDEF simply wants the freedom to deploy our mobile BCS for training and operations and has no interest in acquiring MobileStats’ alleged patents. It is unclear why the owners of MobileStats chose to take legal actions against the consumer, instead of the manufacturer. Imagine if Apple sued Samsung handphone users – instead of Samsung Electronics – for allegedly infringing Apple’s Intellectual Property rights."
 

daredevil123

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Oct 25, 2005
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#18
It will be a problem if the consumer is the one who commissioned the company to build the equipment according to a patented design. Then the consumer is liable. The analogy used with apple and samsung is not correct.
 

terryxyc

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Nov 25, 2011
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#19
Getting very confused about the facts. Would be helpful to see a timeline of how things transpired. One article says the court case was never concluded, one of MINDEF's earlier statement claims that the patent was declared invalid....





Hopefully with the added public interest, someone somewhere will have to clarify things.
http://www.theonlinecitizen.com/2015/01/timeline-case-between-mobilestats-and-mindef/

The above link shows the timeline of what happened between MobileStats and MINDEF
 

UncleFai

Senior Member
Mar 10, 2010
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#20
http://www.theonlinecitizen.com/2015/01/timeline-case-between-mobilestats-and-mindef/

The above link shows the timeline of what happened between MobileStats and MINDEF
"DSTA replied to them on 25 May 2009 and stated that as the winning tender has not been determined, the exact design or solution had not been established but added that if the successful tenderer used third-party intellectual property in the performance of its obligations, the onus was on the successful tenderer to "carry out the nescessary actions to ensure" that there was no breach of any legal obligation."
 

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