Partner and Head of Patent Department Denis Levchuk has given an expert interview on Business FM radio

Author: Denis Levchuk
October, 2021

In the audio series 2025 hosted by Kira Altman, inventor Vitaly Zharikov wants to change humanity’s approach to consumption. He has developed the NOAH technology, which will help to recycle used synthetic clothing and create fundamentally different things. In episode 19 – “Inventor’s Diary: Technical Solution and Patents” – Denis Levchuk, Partner and Head of YUS Patent Department, tells how to properly defend your idea. 

Kira Altman: A technical solution is, first of all, an intellectual property. It is important to understand that innovation must be protected before it enters the public space. An inventor has got a million questions. For example, in which country it is more correct to patent the technology, which details should not be missed in the description. 

Denis Levchuk, Partner and Head of Patent Department of Patent and Law Firm YUS, has come to the Business FM studio at my invitation to meet with the inventor of the NOAH technology Vitaly Zharikov. Right away, with excitement in his voice, he said:   

Denis Levchuk: “Don’t tell anyone! Until the application has been submitted. As much as you’d like to”. 

Vitaliy Zharikov: This is one. 

Denis Levchuk: This is two and three. 

Vitaliy Zharikov: I see, never ever. 

Denis Levchuk: Just common words. 

Kira Altman: I immediately remembered the first rule of the Fight club: “Don’t tell anyone about the fight club!” I had no idea that a patent could lead competitors like hounds on the wrong track, that it can not only protect the inventor, but also help him earn extra money. 

Patents and the fight for them are a chess game, a sea battle. This is a truly trusting relationship between the inventor and the patent attorney. As if you are dealing with someone who knows everything or almost everything about you. 

Among the companies that help granting patents, YUS is one of the pioneers in Russia. The firm has been on the market for over 25 years. There are many PhDs in the team of technical specialists. You won’t think up a better way when dealing with projects like NOAH. 

Denis Levchuk: To be honest, that was the main reason why I started listening to podcasts – to find out what you’ve already said. What if you said something technical? No. Nothing like that. 

Vitaliy Zharikov: Yes, I did my best. 

Denis Levchuk: Thank you very much, you make it easier for us to work for the future. Sometimes they call and say: “We really need to publish an article. Can we?” Seems like you are an outsider, but you say: “No, you can’t.” And they listen to you, because you know how it ends. 

On the other hand, it is not for nothing that a patent attorney is called a “patent attorney”, a person whom you are to tell everything. 

Let me explain with an example. You told me about a thread using such-and-such polymers with such-and-such parameters. We’ve patented specific versions of the thread. But it turned out that other variants of the thread can also be used, and they can no longer be protected by your patent. If competitors figure it out, they will patent a “neighboring” version, the one close to yours. And it may turn out that they cannot use your version, but you cannot use their version. Of course, there are cross-licensing, licensing agreements. But imagine that for some reason your version did not go further, but theirs did. You gave them the idea, they modified it a little and patented it, and it was their solution that went into practice. Therefore, we must know in advance what other variants of your inventions there may be, even whether at the moment they are difficult to implement or generally unrealizable. Only the first ideas are difficult. The more we know at the stage of the search and preparation of application materials, the better the final product will be – the patent itself, and, accordingly, protection for you. It’s a shame when they take an idea from you, modify it a little and use it. But it is even more offensive when it can be patented. So don’t tell anyone! Tell only us, and no one else. 

Vitaliy Zharikov: I usually say NOAH. This is not a NOAH project; this is an idea that is certainly technically thought out, and there is a certain understanding of how it will be implemented. But it’s still an idea. At the same time, what I describe and tell you does not yet exist in the world. If it were, we would have been using it for a long time. 

You started saying that the right thing is to come at the idea stage, and not when there is already a product or there is a certain technology, and then it suddenly occurs to you that it would be great to patent all this. Can you tell me how to do it correctly and how not to do it? 

Denis Levchuk: Vitaliy, after all, I already know something about your project. Generally, when a client comes, the first question is: “What do you need a patent for?” There can be many answers. In your case, I understand why you need a patent: this is a rather complex project that may be interesting for many companies or future competitors, including those related to the use of threads. It is very diverse, includes completely different areas, completely different directions. Naturally, after 30 years that you’ve been engaged in the project you want to get a return, and not only in the form of a “thank you” or a sign “Vitaliy Zharikov lives here”. 

Vitaliy Zharikov: Absolutely! 

Denis Levchuk: So it’s best to start right from the basics. We will strive not only to register patents and trademarks, but to build what large corporations are striving for – a patent policy, to form a patent portfolio and then to manage it competently. 

As soon as the project goes beyond the borders of Russia, and I think this is definitely the case, the costs of patenting increase exponentially, although, perhaps, they are not so great if compared to the total costs of the technology. A patent is something that cannot be taken away from you. They can take a business away, but not a patent. All the more so, an American patent. And if there is a European patent, a Japanese one, and so on, the task is even more difficult. 

Vitaliy Zharikov: And Chinese. 

Denis Levchuk: And Chinese. But, like everything around, it costs money. If some part of the process of creating your thread, for example, is carried out in Germany, it would be good to have a German patent. If it can be reproduced in one way or another, say, in China, then it’s a good idea to have it patented in China as well. 

Vitaliy Zharikov: What about the whole world? What then? 

Denis Levchuk: We can’t tell you: “Patent all over the world!” By doing this, we will simply ruin you. 

Vitaliy Zharikov: You know, it’s good that I came to you, I mean we’ve got a large expense item here. 

Denis Levchuk: We are specially intended to reduce it, reasonably although. 

Vitaliy Zharikov: What do you think, can we draw up certain documents or reveal technical details, technologies and the possible use of other technologies that can possess these properties, together, so that we do it right and understand it properly, and write it down? Or should we do it at our end and then come to you? How do you think the work will look like, say, tomorrow? 

Denis Levchuk: Together, definitely. The better we understand what you know, and you have 30 years of experience in this, the better the result will be. We can get this knowledge in a short time only from you. We need to understand practically as you understand, and the application will turn out great. We don’t want to play roulette, do we? 

Vitaliy Zharikov: No, there is no more life time for this. 

Denis Levchuk: We have a patent for the thread. Roughly speaking, we need to “surround” it with neighboring, adjacent patents, so that others could not “get close to it”. We may patent something similar, or you may tell much more in your patent: you do not need to patent this surplus, and you don’t need someone to come close with their patents or with their developments. So you cover the neighboring areas close to your patent, to your technology. 

Another strategy is to patent a deliberately false path, and set the competitors on the wrong track. Sure, by this time it would be good to have competitors. 

Vitaliy Zharikov: That was exactly my second question. Are we going to make two different patents at a time? 

Denis Levchuk: Perhaps that’s the way it is going to be. The patent world is complex, believe me. 

There can be another situation. The ideal protection is patent plus know-how. For example, you receive a patent for a certain basic idea that you want or should tell everyone anyway, but you don’t reveal the intricacies of the process of creating a thread in the patent, leaving them in your head or in your desk. And when you issue a license for a patent some time later, you say: “Here is a license for the use of a patent, it costs that much, but please keep in mind that if you now start to select such and such parameters, you will either lose a lot of time, or a lot of money, or even get nothing. But there is one secret, I would give it to you too, but then the license will cost, tentatively speaking, 10 times more. It’s up to you!” This is the perfect case. 

The patent world, intellectual property is a separate world with its own wars, ins and outs. Real wars, real tricks, real strategies and tactics. You’ve come on time: you can build everything competently at the very beginning, and for this purpose we must understand the idea well, just we and no one else. I will come back to this constantly. 

Vitaliy Zharikov: Yes, I understand. 

Kira Altman: Denis Levchuk, Partner and Head of Patent Department, Patent and Law Firm YUS. Vitaliy Zharikov, inventor of the NOAH technology. 

Listen to the original podcast in Russian on BFM.Ru