Patent Obscurities Clarified

from the is-that-clear? dept

Well, it looks like some folks in the press are finally starting to dig deeper into the issues that surround our current patent system. Internet News has a pretty good overview pointing out many of the problems with the patent system. They don’t go into potential solutions – though, the article is a part of a series, so maybe that’s coming later. Meanwhile, has a fascinating article looking at the very important details surrounding the Eolas patent claim. The whole thing is based on some fairly obscure rules about how a patent can be invalidated. The details give support to Eolas’ complaint that the news of the patent office could reject the patent was something of a non-story. What happened was the patent examiner has shown the prior art and said it looks like it could invalidate the patent. The next step is for Eolas to refute that. Eolas claims that the patent office sets up a “straw man” on purpose for them to knock down – but that’s not exactly true either. They wouldn’t go through this process if they didn’t at least see some evidence that the patent might be invalid. Still, the obscure part is that Microsoft and the W3C (who are challenging the patent) have no say in the matter. Eolas responds to the patent examiner, and the rest of the discussion can only be between the examiner and Eolas, meaning Microsoft and the W3C are not allowed to counter Eolas’ claims. As some people point out, at this point, anything can happen, and that patent has just as much chance to remain valid as it does to be overturned.

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