Can You Speed Up Patent Reviews While Improving Patent Quality?

from the if-so,-how? dept

I caught most of Commerce Secretary Gary Locke's speech (to a surprisingly small audience) yesterday at CES. There really wasn't that much that was worth commenting on, as it was mostly filled with typical political platitudes, and statements that often were based on questionable assumptions. For example, when he spoke about patents, as he's done before, he talked up the importance of approving more patents faster. But, right after that, he also talked about the importance of increasing the quality of approved patents, and getting rid of bad patents. What he didn't explain is how the USPTO would deal with the inherent conflict. If you speed up the pace of approving patents, you're inevitably going to let more bad patents through. It's nice to just say you want to speed up patent approvals while improving the quality of patents, but you have to at least recognize that the two goals are clearly in conflict. There may be ways to mitigate that (though, I'm not convinced any would actually work all that well in the long run), but it seems like the typical political promises of things that work against each other, such as claiming to want to increase government funded social services, while decreasing taxes. The two concepts are inherently in conflict, but politicians make such promises all the time. Still, if Locke really believes it's possible to bridge that conflict, it would be nice if he actually explained how.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 7th, 2011 @ 2:06pm

    They can simply reject more patents faster and allow only a very few to be more thoroughly reviewed.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      freak (profile), Jan 7th, 2011 @ 2:35pm

      Re:

      And the appeals process? And the re-appeals process? And the re^n-appeals process?


      Still, I wonder if it would work well if they would allocate the patent approval into "approval" and "appeals", and put most of their people into approval.
      (Rather than currently, where I believe the person who initially rejected it is also the person who has to deal with any appeals?)

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Jan 7th, 2011 @ 2:58pm

        Re: Re:

        Maybe rejected patents should not be appealable or there should only be allowed one appeal for a rejection (and that should be to the supreme court? Make them actually do some work to have a rejected patent approved).

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        •  
          icon
          Richard (profile), Jan 7th, 2011 @ 3:23pm

          Re: Re: Re:Appeals Process

          Double the fee for each appeal!

           

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          •  
            icon
            The Mighty Buzzard (profile), Jan 7th, 2011 @ 3:25pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:Appeals Process

            Nah, too many big corporations could still afford it. Square it.

             

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            •  
              identicon
              Steve, Jan 10th, 2011 @ 6:26am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:Appeals Process

              Yes! Make it too expensive to apply for a patent and even more expensive to appeal a patent! That couldn't possible hurt a small start-up or a single inventor in any way. that couldn't possibly play right into the hands of the largest companies who want patents to prevent competition from truly innovative and inventive competitors.

               

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        icon
        The Mighty Buzzard (profile), Jan 7th, 2011 @ 3:23pm

        Re: Re:

        Nah, they just need a "resubmit this and we will come to your house and shoot you in the face" stamp.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    lavi d (profile), Jan 7th, 2011 @ 2:51pm

    See Also

    ...but it seems like the typical political promises of things that work against each other

    Shoring up artificially high house prices while working to provide affordable housing.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 7th, 2011 @ 3:33pm

    A better question would be: Can people make a turd shinny?

    ps: Homage to Nina Paley and her infatuation with poop LoL

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Ron Rezendes (profile), Jan 7th, 2011 @ 3:39pm

    One way would be to....

    use experts in various fields to review patents before they ever get to the approval/reject stage. The experts should certainly be aware of prior art, baseless patents, etc. and easily dismiss many of the bad patents we see get processed and approved.

    Use theses experts to weed out the applications that are beyond questionable or are simply not worthy of further examination and allow the examiners to actually work on only those submissions which need examining to qualify for approval.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Jan 7th, 2011 @ 4:09pm

      Re: One way would be to....

      addendum:

      - Make sure that it got eyeballs on it, they need to track the quantity of eyeballs that reviewed it, if it falls beyond a minimum set of eyeballs it is flagged to more scrutiny or automatically rejected.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Alatar, Jan 7th, 2011 @ 3:40pm

    Not so in conflict

    Look, there's a solution :
    The USPTO could double or triple its staff, and also hire an army of consultants (in every domain) to confirm the non-obviousness of each application. Plus a lot of investigators for the prior art.
    This way, reviews will be sped up, and the quality will increase.
    And I'm sure that's what Mr Locke meant

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Alatar, Jan 7th, 2011 @ 3:41pm

    /sarcasm

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 7th, 2011 @ 5:19pm

    Simple solution: if the clerk reviewing the patent application is not him/herself an expert in that particular field, the application is summarily rejected.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    The eejit (profile), Jan 8th, 2011 @ 2:16am

    Actually, I'd go in the opposite direction:

    1) Accept all patents for a grace period of 4 months;

    2) During this grace period, the USPTO searches for prior art and obviousness. IF obviousness is found, then the patent is rejected outright and cannot be refiled by ANY company. IF prior art is found, the patent ia rejected with the option to modify and improve the patent;

    3) Patents are monopolised, with a licensing option available, for 7 years. After this time, the patent cannot be renewed.

    4) Any patents used to file mass actions come under automatic scrutiny, and the lawsuit(s) is(are) held for a three-month period, pending the review. IF found to be false, then the patent is autopmatically entered into the public domain.

    5) Minor improvements cannot be added to or modify an existing patent. They also count as prior art.

    I think this should suffice.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    abc gum, Jan 8th, 2011 @ 8:31am

    Hopefully the SCOTUS will soon get off the fence and proclaim that software is not patentable.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Androgynous Cowherd, Jan 8th, 2011 @ 9:39am

    Quick patent examination

    I know how to change the system so that it never takes longer than 24 hours to decide whether to accept a patent application, nor do any more bad patents get approved.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    ken, Jan 8th, 2011 @ 11:33am

    2 Tier Track

    I would hope that we could go in a different tack. Have at least 2 types of patent applications with different lifetimes for the patents. The option with the 20 year term should have a high bar for passing, long review time, peer reviewed, higher filing fee, and needs to be a ground breaking type patent. Then have a lower, 5-7 year term for patents.

    Also, have it so if any of the claims are found invalid, all of the patent is invalid. Right now, they'll claim EVERYTHING because there is no penalty for not claiming everything.

    And software patents should never have been allowed.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    staff, Jan 9th, 2011 @ 8:32am

    whining

    "getting rid of bad patents"

    What large companies who whine about it mean is get rid of patents owned by small entities that they are subject too. The truth is they really don't care about patent quality or pendancy.

    For a knowledgeable analysis of patent issues, please see http://truereform.piausa.org.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Stephan Kinsella (profile), Jan 10th, 2011 @ 9:21am

    A “Patent Stimulus” to End the Recession?

    This reminds me of the "brilliant" suggestion of two patent lawyers, Quinn and Halling, to have the President ORDER the PTO to issue more patents, no matter what!

    Writes Quinn:

    "What we need to do is have President Obama issue an Executive Order directing the Patent Office to start allowing patents. A 42% allowance rate during the first quarter of 2009 is wholly unacceptable. … So while you are at it President Obama, order the Patent Office to issue a patent UNLESS there is a reason to deny it."

    See my post A “Patent Stimulus” to End the Recession?.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Patent, Feb 10th, 2011 @ 6:56am

    A patent is a permit by a government to an inventor, llotting the right to prohibit others for a confined period from making, employing or selling the invention all over a country. It is a record in which the invention is ampley illustrated and the scope of the invention identified.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Jin Micro, Jan 19th, 2012 @ 10:35am

    A rejected patent is a rejected patent. That's that.
    - Forex Broker Reviews

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This