by Mark Malek
Ok, stop laughing. I know that any sentence that includes the words “Government,” “Solving” and “Problems” is likely to end with a punch-line, but this site is dedicated to working with the government to solve various problems. There are a series of challenges that users can search through and try to submit some solutions. Some of my favorite challenges included the challenge to reduce waste at college football games called the Game Day Challenge and the challenge directed to kids titled “How Do I Become President” challenge. I will spare you a political rant right now on that last one.
Several prizes are available for these challenges. For example, the challenge directed to coming up with new lighting solutions called the Bright Tomorrow Lighting Prize boasts more than $15 million in prize money available. So what does all of this have to do with the intellectual property world? Simple, many of these challenges are directed to new innovation. Certainly, a new lighting solution that may increase energy efficiency could be patentable. I caution many inventors prior to submitting your innovations in an effort to claim these prizes. Submissions should not be sent in without at least some sort of patent protection pending (if patent protection is even applicable). Inventors also need to carefully read the parameters of the challenge. There is a possibility that the prizes may be in the form of grants to conduct research and possibly have provisions for patents that may arise from that research.
Either way, Challenge.Gov could be a good think and could lead to more innovation. Now, if only some more resources could possibly be directed to the PTO so that the innovations, i.e., patent applications, that are backlogged could get out……