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Show me the money, say inventors, so some companies pay cash for patented ideas

William Shull, chief patent counsel at Halliburton Energy Services Inc., believes that cash awards encourage inventors to bring forward their patentable ideas (See my posts of Oct. 20, 2006 on Dial’s incentive program; and Jan. 27, 2006 on options granted as rewards for patents.). Shull spoke to a panel at the InsideCounsel Super Conference 2007.

Halliburton pays employees up to $3,000 for each commercialized patent. The company also rewards employees who author “defensive publications” that can serve as prior art to block other company’s inventions from being patented (See my post of Aug. 3, 2005 on Microsoft’s goal to produce more patents.). All incentive systems distort behavior – their purpose, after all – but Halliburton’s lawyers retain control because they decide whether to apply for a patent. Also, the restriction of “commercialized” is unclear but it suggests that a second control, before an inventor sees the cash, is whether the company sees the cash from the patented invention.