Shocking: Patent Examiners Against Patent Reform That Tries To Fix Patent Examiner Mistakes

from the what-a-surprise dept

This ought to come as no surprise at all. A group that supposedly represents patent examiners has come out against the latest attempt at patent reform. As we've made clear, the attempt at patent reform certainly has some major problems, but those don't seem to be the focus of the complaint. Instead, the document seems to be a combination of patent examiners claiming "it's not our fault!" for approving all sorts of awful patents along with a plea to hire more patent examiners. This is wrong on both accounts -- though, perhaps you can blame others (the USPTO and the courts, for instance) for pushing patent examiners to approve patents that had no business being approved. As for the old myth that hiring more patent examiners will fix the problem, that's been thoroughly debunked. Patent examiners simply don't scale at the same pace as innovation. The problem isn't that we need more examiners, but that too many people have lost sight of the real purpose of the patent system: to create incentives for innovation. It is not, as many people now assume, to give full ownership of an idea to the first person to claim it. The sooner people recognize the real purpose of the patent system, the faster we'll get rid of the problems the current patent system creates in hindering innovation.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 10th, 2007 @ 3:26am

    oh hay first post.

     

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    Crosbie Fitch (profile), Sep 10th, 2007 @ 3:55am

    Patents are rewards that hinder innovation

    Ahem. Patents do attempt to give 'full ownership of an idea to the first person to claim it', or rather a commercial monopoly.

    If your purpose is to foster innovation, then a free market without monopolies (without patents) will be far more effective.

    So, the sooner people recognise that the patent system hinders innovation at the expense of arbitrary rewards to patent filers, the faster we'll get rid of the patent system and the greatest hindrance to innovation.

     

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      EH, Sep 10th, 2007 @ 4:38am

      Re: Patents are rewards that hinder innovation

      Bunk. There are plenty of good reasons to have patents, not the least of which is to protect someone who has spent years developing a product from someone simply ripping him off. You could easily argue that the term of patents is too long, but to argue that they should simply be abolished is a wrong and stupid idea, and you should feel bad for having thought it.

       

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      Sanguine Dream, Sep 10th, 2007 @ 5:36am

      Re: Patents are rewards that hinder innovation

      Nah come on. The patent system needs to exists. It protects large companies from small time patent hoarders (who do literally nothing but patent something for the sole purpose for looking someone who is infringing on it in order to sue) who think just because they enter a market they are entitled to make a profit. And it also protects small companies from large corporations that want to lock the market down so that there is no competition.

       

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      M P, Sep 10th, 2007 @ 7:31am

      Re: Patents are rewards that hinder innovation

      That is truly an absurd claim. You missed the entire point of a patent. In exchange for a LIMITED monopoly on profits, a patent holder is obliged to release the entire details of a patent into the public domain. If you haven't exactly noticed by now, there are very few useful devices that don't build on prior technical innovation today. If patents didn't force full disclosure how much innovation could take place without people being able to tinker with what's already out there. The wheel, or the microchip, would be "invented" over and over.

       

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    Ernestas, Sep 10th, 2007 @ 4:01am

    I the same way as patenting wheel...

    Is it possible trick patenting system to approve patent for: patenting, patent or ways to use patent ?

    At least it would be fun :)

     

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    Shohat, Sep 10th, 2007 @ 5:45am

    Problems Shmoblems

    Patents are a small problem, when you look at the much bigger problem is the complete lack of progress in the last 50 years.
    I honestly envy the people that got to live during 1860-1950 and had the chance to see humanity make such stunning technological and scientific progress :(.
    I am pretty sure that the patent system, in whatever form, is a small factor in the global lack of progress - the blame should be placed elsewhere.

     

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      kaeles, Sep 10th, 2007 @ 6:41am

      Re: Problems Shmoblems

      you call gps, cell phones, the internet, innumerable medical advances, going to the moon etc... lack of progress?

       

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        Shohat, Sep 10th, 2007 @ 7:28am

        Re: Re: Problems Shmoblems

        YES.

        Back then, people would wake up and find their world upside down - magic turned into reality.
        Television.(maaagic)
        Flight
        Nuclear power (Holy crap)
        Theory of relativity (Science reset)
        Cars !!!
        Jet engines
        Space travel.
        Computers

        We simply don't have such breakthrough anymore. Zero. We have microscopic , linear progress, based on previous technology.
        You can't compare that to the times when innovators where (mainstream heroes.(Wright brothers, Einstein...)

         

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        Shohat, Sep 10th, 2007 @ 7:34am

        Re: Re: Problems Shmoblems

        And btw, HUH ? GPS ?!?!
        GPS can be done with Sputnik-era satellites, it is just a mathematical computation done on the reciever end.
        Cell phones are just sohpisticated radios++.
        Going to the moon(and space) was made possible due to WW2 technology.("I am for the stars, but sometimes I hit London")
        The internet concept is certainly great, but I hope you know how old it really is ...

         

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      Casper, Sep 10th, 2007 @ 9:39am

      Re: Problems Shmoblems

      Patents are a small problem, when you look at the much bigger problem is the complete lack of progress in the last 50 years.
      I honestly envy the people that got to live during 1860-1950 and had the chance to see humanity make such stunning technological and scientific progress :(.
      I am pretty sure that the patent system, in whatever form, is a small factor in the global lack of progress - the blame should be placed elsewhere.

      Technology is developing at an ever increasing pace. In the past 100 years we have learned to harness the power of the atom, discovered MRI tech, global communications, mapped a few genome's, cloned animals, reduced mortality rates many times over, and improved every other existing technology on earth...

      You might want to pull your head out of your a$$ next time you think about commenting.

       

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        Shohat, Sep 10th, 2007 @ 9:51am

        Re: Re: Problems Shmoblems

        How about you become an engineer or scientist, or study the era I am referring to, before insulting me.
        Technology is NOT developing in increasing pace. There was a boom of innovation , and we comfortably riding it into linear progress.

         

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          Casper, Sep 10th, 2007 @ 10:53am

          Re: Re: Re: Problems Shmoblems

          Really? How many innovations per day do you think occurred after the year 1990 compared to the year 1950? The problem is that what is happening today is not what you are interested in.

           

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            Shohat, Sep 10th, 2007 @ 12:04pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Problems Shmoblems

            1950 is problematic, as with any War or immidiate post-war era. These years have insane scientific, technological and medical innovation (Nuclear, Jet, Computing etc...)
            Because we are in times of almost absolute peace now(probably less than 200,000 KIA in all the world in the last 10 years), you can't really compare 1900-1950-Now. Nobody is racing anywhere.

             

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              Asmodeus, Sep 10th, 2007 @ 12:50pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Problems Shmoblems

              "Because we are in times of almost absolute peace now(probably less than 200,000 KIA in all the world in the last 10 years), you can't really compare 1900-1950-Now. Nobody is racing anywhere."

              Funny, I keep hearing how the danger is increasing every day and the terrowists are everywhere. (Fudd accent intentional)
              I find it amazing that everyday, two sets of facts emerge, one saying things are getting safer and the other saying we're all going to die...and yet people want to hear more about the latter than the former.

              I digress.

              Asmodeus

               

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    Crosbie Fitch (profile), Sep 10th, 2007 @ 7:07am

    Further Reading

    If you have the slightest doubt that perhaps a grant of commercial monopoly over a mechanism/device/method/idea may not be in society's interest (despite being in the filer's interest), then check out this paper here:

    http://www.dklevine.com/general/intellectual/againstnew.htm

     

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    Reginald Harrison, Sep 10th, 2007 @ 7:39am

    Progress in the last 50 years

    Joking? These are just as good as those on your list:

    Birth Control
    Personal Computers
    Internet
    Genetic Sequencing
    GPS
    Cell Phones
    High-Yield Rice
    Digital Storage

     

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    raaar, Sep 10th, 2007 @ 7:48am

    Broken for a long time.

    The patent system has been broken for a long time. Look at Alexander Graham Bell. He was a USPOfficer and stole the telephone. Goodo.

     

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    RandomThoughts, Sep 10th, 2007 @ 7:55am

    Mike, just like you said in the H1B article, just because there are a few problems doesn't mean the whole system has to be thrown out.

    Fix the problems.

     

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    Crosbie Fitch (profile), Sep 10th, 2007 @ 8:06am

    Patents don't persuade publication

    M P, if someone has a secret device with a secret design, they don't need to obtain a patent. They can commercially exploit their secrets without anyone else being any the wiser.

    Patents are for manufacturers who wish to produce a device whose design must necessarily become public knowledge, but who wish to prevent competition by obtaining a monopoly over use of the design.

    Such monopolies are obviously commercially valuable to those who obtain them.

    However, the issue is whether they are in the public interest.

    For each lucrative monopoly, there are millions of other manufacturers who are no longer able to use a particular design and hence suffer a commercial and technological disadvantage.

    Patents are not miraculous cost-free favours a king can dish out willy nilly. They are profligate gifts that are paid for by holding everyone else back.

     

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    RandomThoughts, Sep 10th, 2007 @ 12:04pm

    I almost have to laugh at people who say innovation is dead. Are you kidding me? Do you have blinders on?

    There really is magic out there, just because you don't recognize it doesn't mean it isn't happening.

     

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      Shohat, Sep 10th, 2007 @ 2:16pm

      Re:

      Randomthoughts, name one hero-scientist/inventor of our time . One house-hold name. I am talking about an actually scientist/engineer, not a marketing guru.
      You know, like Graham Bell, Edison, Wright, Einstein. At those times, the challenge was "make it fly". Now it's just "make it fly slightly faster".
      Those times - Television.
      Our times : HD Television.
      Got it ?

      If you are a scientist nowadays it is even more frustrating. Dark Matter and String theory are used as a mathematical excuse for almost everything that doesn't fit.

       

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    RandomThoughts, Sep 10th, 2007 @ 2:08pm

    Things are getting safer, but then again they are not.

    We are more secure, it is harder for terrorists to move about, to plan, to communicate, to pull together an operation.

    The only problem is that the tools they have to use today can do much more harm. Instead of killing a few people or a few thousand, there is now the capability to kill a few million.

    The stakes are much higher now.

     

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    angry dude, Sep 11th, 2007 @ 9:28am

    welcome to 21 century dude

    " name one hero-scientist/inventor of our time . One house-hold name. I am talking about an actually scientist/engineer, not a marketing guru.
    You know, like Graham Bell, Edison, Wright, Einstein"

    Hey, dude

    Welcome to the 21 century, when everything and evrybody (including US Congress)is owned by huge multinational corporations

    Gone are those days when an inventor could actually establish his rightful monopoly on some new technology.
    Nowdays everythibng gets stolen by default, by huge multinational corps or by Chinese
    Relax, dude.
    Be a good corporate slave
    And BTW, Einstein was totally unemployable, you should know it, dude - just read some books...
    Today is no better for real scientists - just read the story about Perelman and Poicare Conjecture...

     

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    RandomThoughts, Sep 11th, 2007 @ 10:58am

    Two guys at Google seem to do ok. Last time I checked, Google doesn't really advertise. The inventors of the past were different. They had to work by themselves much more than the scientists of today. Not to say things were "easier" back then, but they were. Come up with the Polio Vaccine? Not so hard. Come up with the AID's cocktail? Much harder.

    Communications and colobration is much better today than in the past, so individual inventors work together much more often, when there are many involved, less recognition happens.

    Science has sequenced DNA, what do you think Salk would think of that? We can travel the stars, what do you think Einstein would think of that?

    Think about it. I can sit here on my cell phone PDA and post on Techdirt from anywhere in the country, what do you think Alex G. Bell would think about that?

    Salk was famous for the Polio Vaccine. He didn't win the Nobel Prize for it though, guys who earlier had figured out how to grow the polio virus did. All Salk did was to work out a vaccine building on their research.

    All this talk of patents hurting innovation, Steve Woz. has a patent for the PC. Did that guarentee Apple a lock on the PC market?

    Well, did it? When did Apple ever dominate that market?

    In the past, a single patent could dominate a market. Today, not so much.

     

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    SuckonThis, Sep 11th, 2007 @ 11:14pm

    This is insane (and off-topic) but you are living in a fantasy world if you think scientific progress is slowing. Do you actually think these innovations were just stumbled upon in some type of "eureka!" moment? The vast majority of new technology from day one has been incremental and based on previous work. If you are truly an engineer you should know this already. The public likes to believe new innovations are "invented" in one brilliant moment. It makes it sound exciting. In reality, its a frustrating game of constant revisions (usually using the work of others) before success is achieved.

    It took a few hundred tries before Edison got a light bulb that lasted more than a few hours (don't forget that Joseph Swan created something very similar to a light bulb in 1860, Edison finally got one that was commercially viable).

    It took the Wright Brothers dozens of revisions before they got a propeller that worked well enough for flight (their first tries used propellers similar to existing technology...a boat).

    Edison and Bell would have been up shit creek if it weren't for the previous work of Morse who developed the telegraph and electromagnet.

    The television would have never been possible if it weren't for the light bulb which led to the development of vacuum tubes.

    See a pattern here? These things don't just appear out of nowhere. Just like today, technology is developed using existing ideas. Get out of your nostalgic daydream.

    Don't forget you quoted a nearly 90 year period then compare it to the last 50 years of progress. Do you honestly think things are going to be the same in another 40 years?

     

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