by Dennis Crouch
Although you might be the first-to-file a patent application covering a particular new innovation, certain market areas are so competitive that you should expect follow-on patents from competitors that take the original idea and push it in other similar-but-different directions. Those follow-on patents won’t block you from practicing your core invention, but they may well block you from implementing practical and important elements of a market-ready solution.
One potential partial solution to this problem is being offered by a new company out of Canes, France. The company, known as Cloem, has an interesting business model of creating tens-of-thousands of what they call “cloems” based upon a client’s submitted claim set. A cloem is a computer-generated claim (or statement of an invention) that is created by the various permutations possible as well as by considering alternative definitions for terms as well as “synonyms, hyponyms, hyperonyms, meronyms, holonyms, and antonyms.” The owner’s idea is that the cloems will be immediately published and then serve as prior art to prevent competitors from claiming rights to the whitespace surrounding the original patent. Customers might also want to cloam a competitor’s patent application to prevent them expanding that subject matter.
Cloem admits that a substantial number of its results are nonsense, but a substantial number are also on-the-money and, with 50,000 cloems per patent, they can afford to waste a few.
Questions remain: (1) whether these smart-but-random computer-generated cloems should count as prior art; (2) when one of the cloems represents a seemingly patentable invention, who is the inventor and is it patentable? Robert Plotkin wrote a book that considers some of this: The Genie in the Machine: How Computer-Automated Inventing is Revolutionizing Law and Business