Shorter, Faster Patents?

from the one-solution dept

The folks at the IEEE are trying to come up with a compromise on the issue of software patents in the US — something many feel shouldn’t receive patent protection at all. Instead of doing away with software patents completely (something that’s unlikely any time soon), they’re suggesting a separate type of patent that is approved more rapidly, but which is only good for four years. It’s an interesting idea, and you can understand the thinking behind it, but it also could just make things that much worse by encouraging more people to rush through questionable patents. We’re still not sure what’s wrong with just letting people compete in the marketplace…

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Comments on “Shorter, Faster Patents?”

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Mousky (user link) says:

Once they get the foot in the door...

Once you allow patents on software, it will only be a matter of time before the software industry will ask (or demand that) the government to extend the length of protection. They will use some sorry ass excuse about losing money and the impact on the economy. Just look at how long copyright lasts know. Have to love government approved monopolies of 90 years or more.

discojohnson says:

all time bad idea

talk about snuffing out innovation. with something like this, there would be one operating system, one vendor of p2p sw, one cd burning sw, one vendor for each type. this creates monopolies, even if only for 4 years. this 4 year monopoly is enough to companies in the position to have their name associated as the noun (like kleenex, q-tip, band-aid, etc). i hope whatever authority has final say-so on this isn’t a corporately owned douche.

David Amherst says:

4 yrs, novelty only search

it is extremely rare that I ever agree with “mike” – but this proposal seems a bit absurd, and I (humbly) cannot possibly see this achieving its desired result.
ok, software patent issues aside:
1. limiting ownership from 20 yrs to 4 yrs –
fellas, i know its temping to see this as a plus, but will it really correct any major issue? the criticism agaisnt 20 yrs is one of “ownership until outdated is not pragmatic.” however, does 4 yrs truly do away with this concern. bare in mind that (at least) most major corporations use a strategy of incremental improvement, which presents itself in the IP world as a string of continuation patent applications. so, from a realistic point of view, corporate entities will not fear relinquishing monolopy on the state of the art – only the outdated. granted, in IP terms, the outdated (i.e. not the state-of-the-art) is not useless. However, it is unlikely (or at least uncommon) that a company which devotes consistent resources to development would suffer market position from an economic point of view.
2. so who would this effect?
my guess is, most likely, the little guy. the company’s with inconsistent means of supporting tech improvement to keep head above water in the market. Now, i wouldn’t confuse the “little guy” with what some techies call “patent trolls.” – without even defending this position, just simply check for yourself how quickly after issuance these guys assert their IP – not to make generalizations, though; the 4 yr limitation might prevent the dormant threat type patent. but on the other hand, a 4 yr limit may merely increase the competitiveness of landmine patents and result in increased dirty practices such as submarine patenting.
3. novelty-only search
wow, what a great way of dealing with obviousness issues – ignore it . . . without getting into speculation here (which is very tempting), i might just note that this idea of “shorter term, lower standard of allowance” is not new – it reminds me very much of the japanese “utility model.” i wont say much about this, because my experience with this is limited and im sure someone out there may have more to say. essentially, the japanese utility model is an option in JPO filing, where an inventor can opt for a more limited term (6 yrs?) in exchange for waiving an examination on the merits. needless to say, my experience in dealing with utility models is nothing short of pure frustration –
novelty-only? extremely extremely low standard. not to patronize, but this is essentially “anything under the sun not EXACTLY according to any preexisting specification” – as far as im concerned (i wouldnt push this opinion on anyone) this is in practicality a non-standard.
4. cheaper patents?
i guess that might be true… is that a good thing?? no.
i generally dont appreciate criticism not constructive, but this proposal is a bit in left field. let me know if you agree

dorpus says:

ascii art patent

     (?・ω・`)     ○   (?・ω・`) 。 O
         ○  。
      。  (?・ω・`)  ○ 。  しょ~ぼんだ~ま~
 ∧_∧    。 o ○                とーんーだー
 (*?・ω・)y━o          (?・ω・`)
 ( つ□ノ
  し’ し’

Andrew (profile) says:

One thing Mike missed...

The key thing about these proposed “patents” is that they are not presumed to be valid, unlike traditional patents. This is the feature that makes them a vast improvement over current software patents. Before attempting to enforce them, the patent holder must defend them from review, with the rest of the world watching. And having more of these mini-patents would mean more prior art.

No, this doesn’t solve many of the problems with software patents (and “obvious” patents in general), but I do think it’s encouraging that someone is thinking about the problem creatively.

David Amherst says:

Re: One thing Mike missed...

without presumption of validity, the proposal is nothing more than a formalized common law invention. without presumption of validity, willfulness cannot be established, injunction can never be ordered. this would create nothing but confusion. if there is no presumption of a protectable property, there is nothing more than common law invention.

in other words, without a presumption of a property right, nothing can theoretically be asserted in a lawsuit.

lost (profile) says:

Re: Re: One thing Mike missed...

hmm… I am not sure whether to tell you that your study break is over and to get back to your law class or whether to reread your comments about 50 times, because I have no clue what you just said or even where you were going with it and to be completely frank with you, I can only hope you did.
But anyhow, let me get this straight…
Software patents that are currently being used are being abused by people who really do not have a valid software title to sale or have not fully developed yet, to hold off anyone elses ability to make a software title very closely related. So they are proposing this new patent to keep the “abusers” from getting away with that by making a patent that you have to defend with proof of a valid software?

Moogle says:

Re: One thing Mike missed...

AHHAH! This just clicked for me. Thanks Andrew.

So, the two ends of a patent’s useful life consist of being created, then, after a time, being used. Currently, patents suck because too many bad ones easily get through, right?

Well, a LOOOT of patents are filed. This is where the examination of their validity occurs, and lack of resources means they only get a cursory prior art search. Obviousness never worked right anyway.

However, the validity of a patent can happend ANYWHERE between application and lawsuit/legal threat. The lawsuit/legal threat end only happens to a few patents.

So instead of wasting resources on every patent, with the new system we can put a much more concerted effort on verifying a smaller number of patents.

So what this ammounts to is an efficiency operation, with some other good stuff tacked on like shorter duration, and some incentives to use it.

Now that the reasoning is clear, I think I support this at least 92% 🙂

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