Well, I'm actually a patent examiner and can say, with no doubt, that 12 people at random cannot judge obviousness (or even novelty). I've seen trained examiners, already 1 or 2 years in house, with PhD's and experience in whatever field, struggle with it, let alone 12 jurors with random or non-existent technical backgrounds with 3 weeks pseudo-experience in assessing prior art...
ALmost nobody commented on the patent itself, so, as a patent examiner, I was curious and looked it up and found a PCT filing for the thing, and, well, at least somebody knows their stuff - the international preliminary opinion on patenteability states lack of novelty for every claim... not bad..
(sorry about the link, the usual [url][/url] doesn't seem to work here)
Nonetheless, the granted US version has widely amended claims when compared to the original PCT, but everything is more or less business method stuff, so no patenteability for those parts in Europe, making the patent completely bogus, assuming the examiner's know what they're doing. Anyway, I thought the latest decision coming from Bilski was that the USPTO had to examine the technological basis for the business method, not the method itself, exactly like in Europe.. maybe I missed some decision along the way...
So yeah, I'm glad I live in Europe :) (except for having to put up with stupid "proteced by US patent" disclaimers on almost everything by US companies).
Oh, contrary to most people here :) , the "misinformed journalist" comment wasn't about bashing you, it was actually about the original news piece... in my experience (and my nick says it all), 90% of people don't understand what they have even if they get a granted patent, since 99% of the time these end up with a very limited protection scope, and more than once I've heard reporters and researchers brag about their "patents", which sometimes are still being examined, or that me or one of my colleagues personally rejected.
Personally, i find it perfectly OK to patent some process to build a pyramid, I just don't think that particular patent is that good, if ANYONE here did read the damn thing, you would see that it isn't only about building a pyramid, it's about building something with an apex, even if the base is a circle (which makes out a cone, not a pyramid), level by level (a "course") covering intervals between blocks of the previous level with a block from the new level, and then removing blocks in such a fashion that a stair like structure will appear.
But, if you look carefully to figs. 5 and 6, there seems to be a discrepancy in the upper right corner of the drawing, basically the orientation of the outer stones changes from the initial state to the finished one, also, you would need half blocks to fill the structure and i can't see any drawn - maybe I'm wrong but I don't believe the pyramids in egypt have half size blocks, and the entire "build a cube and then remove half the material" seems odd, since the Cheops Pyramid (according to Wikipedia) weighs 6 million tones. I can't believe they would carry 12 million tones of rock just to waste half of that...
Anyway, what we have is hundreds of newspapers (in several languages) reporting on this as being THE METHOD for pyramid building, used by the ancients, without a shred of scientific discussion, or peer review.
Again, I may be wrong, but i seriously doubt this method could be used to build a 6 million ton pyramid..
If you dig a little further, you'll find that the search report is actually quite adamant: almost every claim is unsearchable - and oh my, what a load of crap they are (hope you can read French), and the 1st claim is anything but novel.
So, my 2 cents on this: first - it's just misinformed journalist talk, second - the woman is trying to make a name for herself even without understanding crap about patents, third - i'll bet Algeria is one of those countries with administrative granting without examination (correct me if I'm wrong please)..
"Of course, it would have been nice if the patent examiner on the case had bothered to look around and find such prior art, but apparently that's too difficult these days."
As always, patent examiners get blamed for all the crappy patents going around. Look, this is how it works: if you show something in public, but do not disclose EXACTLY HOW IT WORKS, you can always state that you showed the car but not what's under the hood, so people don't really understand HOW it works but just WHAT it does. So, as patent examiners, we know damn well that citing press releases or any other kind of silly publicity stunts won't get us anywhere except into a big discussion with the patent attorney in question. That's the pure plain simple truth. The average citizen has no idea of the crap we get from inventors and their attorneys, and the 100 page arguments about why there is reasonable doubt that something should be prior art. Being a patent examiner, is, definitively, one of the most damaging jobs out there. Our hands are tied, stop blaming us for the administrations that tie our hands. You have no idea of the thousands of applications we just so badly want to reject, but can't... :(
You're assuming I work in the US... i actually don't, so I don't keep up with what i assume must be US court cases, and most countries accept biotech patents because they belong to the WTO and were "forced" to sign the TRIPS agreement... as a side note, I'll add that Techdirt is actually a very interesting site for foreigners, it's sort of a compendium of the craziest things in IP disputes, all coming from the US.
I didn't say I had a "position"... the fact is that this is how things work, and if India has the same laws everyone else has right now, then there's no "open source genome free for all do what you want kind of thing" possibility, because, well, there are patents, live with it or run for WTO chairman... and try to disband the TRIPS agreement... i know i'm just one guy :)
Well, since biotech patents are granted based on solving a problem using a SPECIFIC part of the genome, neither the guys who mapped the genome could have patented it (so, no bragging rights for them), nor will they prevent further patenting on specific parts of that genome, once somebody finds out exactly what can be synthesized by which parts...
And does anyone know the content of the amended claims? The USPTO database is famous among us patent-examiners-from-other-countries for being pretty flimsy when it comes to making amendments public. From what I gather, there were a lot of claims submited, but the patented ones (unless there's an update coming soon) are from 2007.
I haven't really followed the case and I would love to actually read them before commenting...
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