theshowmecanuck (703852) writes "After reading about the shooting in a patent office in Chicago yesterday, I thought about the phrase "the pen is mightier than the sword". It is usually taken to mean our ideas hold much more power than a piece of steel. But what if someone steals our ideas. The feeling of being violated and left powerless to do anything about it can in turn make someone feel like they have been backed into a corner so to speak. We know that anything in the animal kingdom backed into a corner is very dangerous. So when Joe Jackson felt he was cheated out of his alleged idea for a toilet in a truck, he killed the man he felt was responsible for the transgression. Is this what happens when the "haves" take too much from the "have-nots" in America? Or is it what happens when the only recourse to settling IP disputes is by hiring the high priced lawyers who are often minding the IP cookie jar, and: a) you don't have enough money to pay to see it to the end, b) the lawyer might be unscrupulous and steal your idea and you can't afford to fight him for it (I am definitely not saying that is the case here), or c) all of the above (etc.)? If so, how do the Joes of the world have any chance? I know a guy who sells a novel piece of electronics for guitar amps, and just encases the circuit in an opaque epoxy cube to hide it... it was cheaper and safer than hiring a patent lawyer... but not all ideas can be protected that way."