by Mike Masnick
Wed, Dec 26th 2012 11:57am
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Nov 26th 2012 3:22am
from the that-would-be-something dept
"There's a possibility of competitive harm here," said Joseph Wayland, who served as the Justice Department's acting antitrust chief until last week, when he stepped down to return to private practice. Mr. Wayland said officials are devoting "huge energy, particularly at a senior level" to this and other antitrust issues surrounding patents.This seems like a much more reasonable use of antitrust resources than some other recent activity.
Of course, the real irony here is the idea that the government may need to use its antitrust rules to crack down on patent abuse, when the whole reason that there's a "trust" problem in the first place is that patents are a government granted monopoly. So no one should be shocked to then see it lead to antitrust problems. Want to not have monopolistic activity? Don't hand out monopolies.
by Leigh Beadon
Thu, Nov 22nd 2012 12:00pm
from the abstract:-gobble-gobble dept
Here in Canada, we gave our proverbial thanks over a month ago, and since all the Americans at Techdirt have taken off for the weekend, I thought I'd take a moment to put together some advice on preparing a great Thanksgiving turkey—with a little help from the USPTO.
If you're tired of the traditional roast, maybe it's time to try a more creative preparation—just be careful you don't run afoul of any patents. Here's an idea: with some skilled knife-work, you can slice a turkey into pieces that resemble various cuts of steak—and that method will only be under patent for another five years!
There are lots of unique recipes out there that call for a deboned turkey. For the inexperienced, it's probably wise to ask your butcher to do this for you—just make sure he doesn't use this method until 2022:
Luckily, there are plenty of open alternatives for the patent-savvy chef. Who needs those fancy new turkey cutlets when you can use this classic "method of preparing turkey ... in the form of a flat elongated slice or slices of raw fowl free from bones, tendons, membranes and skin." Mmmmmm. This patent was granted back in the 60s, so it's long since expired:
Or you could try this "method of preparing barbecued poultry such as turkey which closely simulates barbecued pork", patented in the early 70s and now free for all to follow in handy flow-chart form:
And finally, for the vegetarian in your life (assuming they prefer a lump of vaguely meat-shaped tofu to a nice falafel or something), there's this "method and apparatus for preparing a roast turkey analog (replica) from vegetarian ingredients". A patent was applied for in 2005, but appears not to have been granted...yet. Patents are retroactive to the date of filing, so only use this method if you want to gamble on the USPTO rejecting silly patents (then come play poker with me). All you need to do is make yourself what appears to be some kind of turkey mould, or possibly the sunken city of R'lyeh:
This is an exciting time, with much to be thankful for! Who knows what bold new turkey innovations the patent system will fuel next? A turkey-shaped gravy boat? A way of pulling the bones out from a different angle? A recipe where the sauce goes on after the broth? A toy turkey made out of a pine cone? Ooh, that's a good idea—I should call up the USPTO and... oh, never mind, some other Leigh beat me to it in 1927.
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Nov 20th 2012 3:30pm
US Patent Boss Completely Clueless: Insists That Patent Fights Show The System 'Wires Us For Innovation'
from the oh-come-on dept
Except to Kappos, all that dead weight loss is a sign that the system is working. Why? I have no idea.
Indeed, Kappos suggested that the volume of patent litigation in the smartphone industry was a sign that the patent system was working as intended. "The explosion of litigation we are seeing is a reflection of how the patent system wires us for innovation," Kappos said. "It's natural and reasonable that innovators would seek to protect their breakthroughs using the patent system."Note the giant and very questionable assumptions in the middle of that one: that it's "innovators" seeking to "protect" "breakthroughs." I'd argue that none of the three things in quotes is accurate. Quite frequently it's lawyers who haven't actually innovated at all looking to shakedown actual innovators for broadly worded patents that never should have been granted, and which are being interpreted to cover things they don't really have anything to do with. That's not innovation. It's extortion... backed up by the US government. It's a travesty.
Even worse, Kappos is still relying on the absolutely ridiculous "study" that the USPTO put out earlier this year, despite the fact that its methodology has been widely debunked for including grocery store baggers as "IP innovators." Sorry. And, if you look at what their actual report shows, it suggests that patent-intensive businesses aren't doing so well. Somehow he ignores that. Of course, perhaps that's why his office rejected a promised interview with me earlier this year, and could only defend the patent claims by arguing the most bizarre correlation argument in the world, that because Steve Jobs was innovative and had patents, therefore, patents worked.
Rather than address any of the real and well documented concerns with the patent system, Kappos apparently just decided to spin a fairy tale. He insists, as he's done in the past, that stronger patents automatically create more incentives, even as the evidence suggests that's not even close to true.
It's sad that Kappos sends his lackeys to Silicon Valley to claim that he's "listening" and then spews such pure crap. The system is broken and either Kappos is lying or clueless. Neither reflects well on him.
Rather than engage in this empirical debate, or even acknowledge its existence, Kappos acted as though it was self-evident that stronger patents always create a larger incentive for innovation.
"To those commenting on the smartphone patent war with categorical statements that blame the so-called broken system on bad software patents, what I say is: get the facts. The facts don't support your position."
With all due respect, Mr. Kappos, we do have the facts. And they support the position of software patent critics.
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Sep 20th 2012 7:44am
from the this-is-a-good-thing dept
And it's not just StackExchange and Google working together: they've teamed up with the USPTO to make it easier for good prior art to be submitted to the USPTO to (hopefully) invalidate bad patents. While we were incredibly underwhelmed by the America Invents Act, which was last year's attempt at patent reform, it has (finally) made it much easier to allow third parties to submit prior art which may be helpful to examiners during the ~18 hours they spend in reviewing each patent. There was the famed Peer-to-Patent program, which I was quite skeptical about, but this seems to take that to another level, thanks in part to the useful setup of StackExchange's system that helps float good ideas to the top.
But where this gets much more powerful is through integration in two key spots. First up, this will be integrated into Google's patent pages. Recently, Google launched its prior art finder, which tried to help people find prior art through automated searches -- but you can now also click through directly to the AskPatents site by clicking a "discuss" button that will be shown on each patent page, which will take you straight to the StackExchange page. Neat. The second integration may be even more powerful. As people find useful prior art and it bubbles to the top, StackExchange's system will make it easy to then directly submit it to the USPTO. Clicking a button will take you to an already filled out USPTO form, where a bit of additional info can be added and submitted.
StackExchange founder Joel Spolsky sees this as an opportunity to help stamp out bad patents: "Collectively, we’re building a crowd-sourced worldwide detective agency to track down and obliterate bogus applications. Over time, we hope that the Patent Stack Exchange will mitigate the problems caused by rampant patent trolling. It’s not a complete fix, but it’s a good start."
There are still tremendous structural problems with the patent system. And, at best, a system like this just helps to prevent some of the bigger mistakes, rather than attacking any of the fundamental problems. But, given just how damaging absolutely ridiculous patents are these days, anything that helps stop bad patents has to be seen as a good thing.
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Sep 18th 2012 12:52pm
The USPTO's Reality Distortion Field: Web Filter Blocks Critics Like EFF, Welcomes Maximalist Lobbyists
from the but-techdirt's-available dept
Well this is bizarre. Jamie Love from KEI was over at the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for a meeting about "global negotiations on intellectual property and access to medicine." The meeting itself was held in a room that it uses for the USPTO's Global Intellectual Property Academy (GIPA), and there is free WiFi for people to use. Love tried to log onto his own website... and found that it was being blocked as a "political/activist group."
Access Denied (content_filter_denied)Love then checked a bunch of other sites... and noticed a rather distressing pattern. For public interest groups who advocate that the existing copyright/patent system is broken, the websites were all blocked. ACLU, EFF, Public Knowledge, Public Citizen, CDT... all blocked. However, if you're a lobbyist for maximalism? No problem! MPAA, RIAA, IIPA, IPI, PHRMA, BSA... come on through. They do allow Creative Commons. Thankfully (for us, at least), they don't seem to block blogs that talk about this stuff. Techdirt is allowed, as are things like BoingBoing, Groklaw and Larry Lessig and Michael Geist's blogs. Though, oddly, a bunch of political sites (DailyKos, TPM, RedState, Rush Limgaugh's site) are blocked.
Your request was denied because this URL contains content that is categorized as: "Political/Activist Groups" which is blocked by USPTO policy. If you believe the categorization is inaccurate, please contact the USPTO Service Desk and request a manual review of the URL.
For assistance, contact USPTO OCIO IT Service Desk. (io-proxy4)
It may be an "over active" filter -- but it does seem particularly disturbing that all those groups who fight for the public's rights on the very issues the USPTO is dealing with on a regular basis have their sites completely blocked.
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Aug 30th 2012 10:34am
from the system-failure dept
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Jul 31st 2012 10:58pm
Patent Office Seeking Comments On How To Implement A 'First To File' Regime Instead Of 'First To Invent'
from the help-them-not-muck-it-up dept
To be fair, the arguments in favor of this switch are basically (1) everyone else does it (mostly true) and (2) proving who was first to invent is a total pain in the ass and can be slow and costly. Thus switching to a first to file system could save a lot of wasted time and money in the cases where there's a dispute. That may be true, but I'm not convinced it's a good reason.
That said, it doesn't much matter what I think: it made it into the bill and is now the law. The US Patent Office is now seeking comment on how it should go about implementing this new rule. It's put out two requests. First, it wants to know how it should change the examination guidelines for patent examiners (pdf and embedded below) to take this new rule into account. Second, it wants comments on how it should amend the "rules of practice," regarding this change -- since the current rules are based on the old "first to invent" system.
For those thinking of participating, this is not the place to argue why "first to file" is a bad system (or even why the patent system is broken). I imagine any such filings will be (correctly) deemed off-topic and discarded. However for those patent holders and patent lawyers (and scholars) for whom this change is a big deal, now might be the time to share some thoughts with the USPTO for how it can implement this change with as little damage as possible.
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Jul 18th 2012 7:29pm
Patent Office Releases Rules To Let Third Parties Provide Documents To Help Reject Patent Applications
from the could-be-useful dept
Making matters worse, once a patent is granted, it has to be presumed valid under the law. Meaning that even though it has never actually been tested in an adversarial process, the courts simply assume it's a valid patent. The fact that when patents do get re-examined, somewhere around three quarters of them have to be adjusted, with previously approved claims rejected, certainly calls into question just how "valid" those patents are. One of the small changes in the patent reform bill that past last year, the America Invents Act (AIA), was that it will now be slightly easier to file documents with the Patent Office for a patent application under consideration, rather than waiting until after the patent is granted.
This is definitely a step in the right direction, though, I do wonder how widely it will be used. Part of the problem is that it's often not at all possible to tell what a patent actually impacts until after its granted and the holder sues or threatens to sue. And no one can watch every application to see if they might have some useful prior art or evidence of obviousness. Either way, the rules for such third party submissions go into effect September 16th, and the USPTO is releasing its official rules for how the process will work (pdf and embedded below). There is a fee involved -- $180 -- but it's exempted for your first submission on a particular patent application if that submission is less than three documents. That may be a bit limiting, but it does suggest that individuals with clear prior art or proof of obviousness might at least be able to weigh in a bit to convince the examiner that an application is totally bogus.
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Jul 16th 2012 3:03am
from the live-by-the-patent,-die-by-the-patent dept
Of course, what some people forget is that RIM brought much of this on itself. Before NTP even came on the scene, it was RIM who started suing a bunch of other companies for patent infringement, based on its broad portfolio of patents around wireless email and mobile devices. On top of all that, RIM's business is collapsing. The company is fighting for relevancy as its latest operating system has been delayed -- and there's growing evidence that even once it comes out, no one's going to care about it.
RIM can try to put a nice spin on things, but it seems clear that the company is in serious trouble. Perhaps, next time, it will focus on improving its products more than getting caught up in the patent game. Yes, many of these more recent lawsuits came from it getting sued, but there's no doubt that RIM drew a lot of attention to itself early on with its own patent lawsuits against others.