Two years ago, the EFF set up a patent-busting project. They picked out ten questionable patents that they believed were being misused to stifle, rather than encourage, innovation -- and set out to get those patents invalidated. While it may be slow going, it appears they're having some impact. They've now convinced the patent office to re-exam one of the patents for online test taking. We wrote about this particular patent a couple years ago when the company started going after universities for daring to offer tests online. Of course, there's still the long re-exam back-and-forth process to go through. The real issue, though, is why this is even necessary? Why isn't there a better way to stop such questionable patents from being approved in the first place? Why doesn't the USPTO look at "obviousness" outside of prior art? Contesting issued patents is a long, difficult and expensive process -- but the fact that so many questionable patents seem to be getting the stamp of approval is a huge problem, and one that seems to be getting worse with the "when in doubt, approve" attitude in the USPTO these days.
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