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.

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Comments on “Can You Speed Up Patent Reviews While Improving Patent Quality?”

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23 Comments
freak (profile) says:

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?)

Ron Rezendes (profile) says:

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.

Alatar says:

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

The eejit (profile) says:

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.

ken says:

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.

Steve says:

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.

Stephan Kinsella (profile) says:

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?.

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