The PTAB and Broken Promises
My story of abuse and patent promises broken by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) usually falls on sympathetic ears. The fact that both Telebrands and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office have teamed up to rob me of my patent rights is unjustifiable and outrageous. But I’m surviving. Even if the lawyers take 70 cents of every dollar I’ve earned, it leaves me with 30 cents. Not bad.
But surviving inventors are incredibly rare. I have met dozens of inventors with incredible discoveries whose naïve belief in the patent system have cost them way more than they have gained. They taught a big corporation their technology either directly or via the publication of their patent. The big corporations have made tens of millions of dollars using the inventor’s technology. The inventor paid lawyers hundreds of thousands of dollars in exchange for losing his patent rights. Many of these inventors are financially and/or psychologically devastated, and every one of them has a legitimate invention. One such legitimate inventor who has been railroaded by the U.S. patent system is Tom Waugh.
In the 1990s, Tom owned and ran a manufacturing company in Birmingham, AL, fabricating metal components for electrical distribution. This is the sort of hardware you see attached to utility poles.
But Tom was an inventor at heart and he started thinking bigger. He decided to reinvent the utility pole. Existing poles were made of wood or expensive formed and welded steel. After a decade of relentless trial and error, he perfected centrifugally cast metal utility poles. The process is ingenious and mesmerizing.