The following excerpt comes from President Obama’s recent townhall meeting in Ohio on Friday, January 22, 2010:
* * * * *
Q I’m an inventor, and I hold U.S. patent number 7,397,731.
THE PRESIDENT: Okay.
Q And before I ask my question I’d like to make a sales pitch. (Laughter.) If you can use my patent in your next election, I think you can raise a ton of money worldwide. You should take a look at it.
THE PRESIDENT: All right, we’ll take a look. All right.
Q If you can’t use it, the government could use it, and I could build a multibillion-dollar business here in Ohio. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: All right, we’ll take a look at your patent. Go ahead, what’s your question?
Q Yes, okay, it has to do with international patent rights. With all this free trade and trade barriers falling, it’s really hard for an individual like me with a global-scope patent to file all over the world and get patent protection everywhere, and having to go overseas to fight infringement. So if you’re going to drop trade barriers, maybe you can extend my patent rights to the foreign countries.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, this is a great question, and this is a huge problem. (Applause.) Look, our competitive advantage in the world is going to be people like this who are using their minds to create new products, new services. But that only helps us and helps you build a multibillion-dollar company if somebody can’t just steal that idea and suddenly start making it in Indonesia or Malaysia or Bangladesh with very cheap workers.
And one of the problems that we have had is insufficient protection for intellectual property rights. That’s true in China; it’s true for everything from bootleg DVDs to very sophisticated software. And there’s nothing wrong with other people using our technologies. We just want to make sure that it’s licensed and you’re getting paid.
So I’ve given instructions to my trade offices — and we actually highlight this at the highest levels of foreign policy — that these are issues that have to be addressed because that’s part of the reciprocity of making our markets open. And so when I met with President Hu of China, this is a topic that, at dinner, I directly brought up with him. And — but as you point out, it’s got to be sustained, because a lot of times they’ll say, yes, yes, yes, but then there’s no enforcement on their end.
And one of the things that we’re also doing is using our export arm of the U.S. government to help work with medium-sized businesses and small businesses, not just the big multinationals to protect their rights in some of these areas, because we need to boost exports.
Can I just say, we just went through a decade where we were told that it didn’t matter, we’ll just — you just keep on importing, buying stuff from other countries, you just take out a home equity loan and max out your credit card, and everything is going to be okay. And it looked, for a lot of people, like, well, the economy seems to be growing — but it was all built on a house of cards. That’s what we now know. And that’s why if we’re going to have a successful manufacturing sector, we’ve got to have successful exports.
When I went and took this trip to China, and took this trip to Asia, a lot of people said, “Well, why is he going to Asia? He’s traveling overseas too much. He needs to be coming back home and talking about jobs.” I’m there because that’s where we’re going to find those jobs, is by increasing our exports to those countries, the same way they’ve been doing in our country. If we increased our exports — our share of exports by just 1 percent, that would mean hundreds of thousands of jobs here in the United States. Five percent — maybe a million jobs, well-paying jobs. So we’re going to have to pry those markets open. Intellectual property is part of that process.
* * * * *
The invention claimed by the 7,397,731 patent is pretty cool. It is a “perpetual day reminder calendar.”
The patent was prosecuted by the inventors and it is not surprising that the claims are written in some sort of modified Jepson language. Claim 1 reads as follows:
1. A perpetual day reminder calendar for illustrating day, date and month information, including:
a) a set of day indicating plates with day indica; b) a set of month indicating plates with month indica; c) a set of date indicating cubes with date indica; d) a display stand with locating guides in one of three possible configurations, top holding, center holding or bottom holding;
the improvement wherein said day indicating plates and said month indicating plates identically shaped to fit around said date indicating cubes in a manner providing an interlocking of, said plates and cubes and the shielding of unneeded indica allowing only the needed day, date and month indica to be viewed and the interlocking pieces forming a calendar stack having a unique locating interaction feature with said display stand whereby the perpetual day reminder calendar can be easily manipulated for the sequential displaying of day, date and month indica.