“I’m not an inventor or an attorney. Why should I care about patents?” This is a question I am asked quite frequently when people learn that I am a patent attorney. (The other top question is whether I watch the TV show Shark Tank. The answer is, “Yes, I do, and I have even represented some companies that have appeared on Shark Tank,” which almost always draws some interest.) But on the question of why someone should care about patents, my answer is generally the same. All of us will encounter patents in one way or another throughout our careers and our lives. Patents can guide and affect many aspects of your life, regardless of where you are in your career or what you do. Here are just a few examples:If you are a researcher or a student, patents can be one of the broadest (and most publicly available) sources of technical information. The European Patent Office estimates that up to 30% of all expenditure in research and development is wasted on redeveloping existing inventions. Being aware of patents can help you avoid reinventing the wheel.
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