In the world of technological intellectual property, the stakes are high and the payouts substantial. Las Vegas, as the home to world-class entertainment shows and cutting-edge businesses, sees its fair share of these types of business disputes. Often these cases involve the unlicensed use of a patented product or a copyrighted work, but in some instances it is a battle over whether something is in fact a protected piece of intellectual property. In cases such as these, an inventor’s intellectual property dispute over a patent may lead to litigation against the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Gilbert P. Hyatt is a 75-year-old Las Vegas inventor waiting for a PTO decision on two patents. If approved, tech companies may be required to pay huge sums for the use of technology that has been in their systems for years. Hyatt has already made millions on other patents, including one approved in 1990 that granted him a claim to a technology that was already being used in almost every personal computer.

The patents’ applications were filed over 30 years ago, and Hyatt has filed a suit to force the agency to make a decision on them. One attorney not involved in the case speculates that the PTO is concerned about issuing patents that would have far-reaching effects on the tech industry, and has delayed its decision in order to avoid the issue. The patent office refuses to disclose what information is contained in the applications.

Patent, copyright and trade secret litigation can be very complicated, and may need to be navigated carefully. Business owners who wish to pursue a corporate dispute involving intellectual property may wish to speak with an attorney to discuss their legal options.

Source: Bloomberg.com, “Inventor Waits 43 Years for Another Chance to Shock Tech,” Susan Decker and Ian King, Feb. 23, 2014