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The Foreign Patent Money Trap

You may well need patents in many countries, but that doesn't mean you can afford them

4 min read

A lot of people simply assume that a U.S. patent provides protection outside of the United States or that there is some kind of a ”European patent” or even a ”world patent.” These beliefs are dead wrong. Your U.S. patent gives you no legal recourse should a company based overseas sell your invention overseas; in fact, it even provides that competitor with a free blueprint of your technology.

A recent U.S. Supreme Court decision not only showed how short the arm of U.S. patent law can be, it shortened it a bit more. AT&T had alleged that Microsoft had violated its U.S. patent for speech-processing software. While the question inside the United States was uninteresting—Microsoft’s U.S. sales were indeed found to be a violation—the real issue was Microsoft’s supplying the code to non-U.S. manufacturers for installation on computers sold abroad. Those non-U.S. activities, the Supreme Court held, were beyond the reach of AT&T’s U.S. patent.

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Asad Madni and the Life-Saving Sensor

His pivot from defense helped a tiny tuning-fork prevent SUV rollovers and plane crashes

11 min read
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Asad Madni and the Life-Saving Sensor

In 1992, Asad M. Madni sat at the helm of BEI Sensors and Controls, overseeing a product line that included a variety of sensor and inertial-navigation devices, but its customers were less varied—mainly, the aerospace and defense electronics industries.

And he had a problem.

The Cold War had ended, crashing the U.S. defense industry. And business wasn’t going to come back anytime soon. BEI needed to identify and capture new customers—and quickly.

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