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Written by: Fedir Pavlovsky, CEO of Intectica Group

When you consider getting a patent for an invention, you are unlikely to think about some ludicrous pitfalls along the way. For example, your invention may be considered super important for the national interests and classified as a top secret. As a result – no patent, no money, no fame for the inventor.

Do you think this is impossible? Then answer the question.

When did Wi-Fi appear?

Wikipedia says that the well-known wireless communication was created in 1998 by the Wi-Fi Alliance. Until recently, no one seemed to notice that this was not entirely true.

In fact, the very first, crude prototype of today’s Wi-Fi was created by brave employees of the UK Department of Defense during World War II. Why is the broad public not aware of this? Because Wi-Fi has been classified as a secret for over 20 years. But first things first.

Wi-Fi is a wireless LAN technology with devices based on IEEE 802.11 standards. Today, there are several such standards. And some of them require standard modulation, such as wideband direct spread spectrum modulation (DSSS for short). It was this technology that was developed during World War II, and the UK Department of Defense even filed an application GB8300076 for a patent on January 4, 1983. A little later, on December 9, 1983, a provisional US application US56183183A was filed for the same DSSS technology, indicating the priority of the British application. Then, the American government became concerned about the possible consequences of the broad public’s access to the invention and classified it on July 10, 1984. However, this did not prevent much later, on January 22, 1990, from filing the ordinary US application US07/475,079 based on the provisional application. 26 years later, US Patent US 7835421 B1 was issued on October 27, 2010.

And here the almighty law did the whole world a disservice.

Since the application itself was filed before June 8, 1995 (prior to Article 33 of the TRIPS Agreement entered into the force), the patent period for this application is either 20 years from the earliest application filing date, or 17 years from the date the patent was granted, depending on which period is longer. That is, a patent that protects one of the most ubiquitous technologies will be valid until 2027 on the absolutely legal basis.

Thus, in 1983, a preliminary patent application was filed, later it was classified for a couple of decades, and in 2010 it was re-classified and a patent was issued imperturbably. Nothing seemed to be disturbing until this curiosity was exploited by the patent owners, and the courts of the Texas, USA, were bombarded with lawsuits against several dozen companies that produce modern products with Wi-Fi support, including network management systems, access points, routers, wireless modules, as well as IP phones, video phones and AV receivers.

To date, the litigation has not been fully settled, and the courts have yet to deliver a final verdict on this undoubtedly extraordinary case.

Therefore, if your invention poses even the slightest interest to national security, you should be completely aware that:

it can be classified as a secret for an unknown number of years, or

Or else, out of nowhere, “100-year-old” patent may appear and make you a lawbreaker. Moreover, it will likely force you to pay fees(((

Therefore, if you need to analyze all the possible risks of patenting your particular invention, we suggest visiting the territory of patenting professionals – INTECTICA. Our scientific and patent department will help plan the protection of your ideas and will conduct your protection in all countries of the world. We bring new products to the market of all countries of the world, and also carry out direct office work in the countries of the European Union, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Russia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, you can find out more on our website.

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