Patent Reform Official, Along With More Bad Ideas

from the make-it-stop dept

Well, the nearly useless patent reform bill has now been signed into law. As we’ve discussed at length, this is a pretty empty bill. Nearly all of the good ideas were excised in the process, and you can tell that’s true by the fact that no actual tech company appeared with the President at the signing. Instead, it was chemical and pharma companies — old school legacy industries that are trying to “protect” old businesses, not innovate with the new. That link above notes one point that I hadn’t realized made it into the final bill: the end of anyone being able to file “false marking” lawsuits over patents. As you may recall, a big industry had sprung up following some court rulings, in which anyone who found a product falsely marked with a patent claim (such as if a product still noted patents after they’d expired), could sue the company and get money (to be split with the government). I had mixed feelings on those lawsuits, because it clearly looked like “trolling,” but I’m troubled by people claiming patents on inventions that are public domain.

Now, there is one thing that also made it into the final package that I hadn’t realized earlier either: joinder reform. We had noted that patent trolls in particular had started suing more companies in each lawsuit after judges had started transferring some cases out of East Texas (patent holders’ favorite venue for patent cases). The reason to sue more companies, from around the country, is so you can argue that no other location is “any better” than Texas. On top of that, the trolls would often throw in a random tiny East Texas company or two along with all the big companies, just to try to establish East Texas as a proper venue. As the link above notes, those tiny companies were later dropped from the case, but only after venue was established (and those companies had to pile up legal fees).

The new law actually makes that much harder, and may limit trolls to suing one company at a time. If so, that would definitely be a step up — though I imagine it will also mean that we’ll have a few more empty offices in empty buildings in downtown Marshall, Texas, as more and more trolls “open up offices” in East Texas…

Along with the new patent reform bill, the Obama administration appears to be rolling out lots of other bad ideas around patents, doubling down on the dreadful idea of using patents to encourage “commercialization” of university research. We have 25 years of data showing just how damaging the Bayh-Dole Act (which pushed universities to patent their research) has been towards university research, so why are we making it even worse?

In coordination with the Administration, the Association of American Universities, and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, 135 university leaders committed to working more closely with industry, investors, and agencies to bolster entrepreneurship, encourage university-industry collaboration, and enhance economic development. Today, over 40 universities are answering the President?s call to expand their commercialization programs and goals. These institutions include The Georgia Institute of Technology, which has outlined its expanded initiatives, as well as universities like the University of Virginia and Carnegie Mellon University, which are announcing plans today.

These programs have been a complete failure — and it’s even worse once you exclude the fact that Intellectual Ventures swooped in and effectively “saved” some universities by buying all their patents for pennies so those universities could show some return for the money they’d wasted setting up tech transfer offices. The problem is that universities aren’t good at commercializing, and they don’t understand how it works. So they think that the way to commercialize is to patent and then sell off the patents. But that’s usually not the best way. So this plan is only going to drive greater patenting of (usually government-funded) research, rather than more such research actually making its way to the commercial market.

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Comments on “Patent Reform Official, Along With More Bad Ideas”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“those companies” what the Fuck do mean by that, racist much? j/k

Your memory is good but your vision is bad. Yes, Obama touted these companies as the wave of the future, a true example of the recovery. He did not lie. Deception, corruption and incompetence, these are the cornerstones of the present and the foundations for our future.

Steve R. (profile) says:

Outsourced Forever

The September 26, 2011 issue of Forbes has a good article that validates that we are going down the wrong path with patent reform. Seems that Forbes has not yet put this article-up on their website, so I am unable to provide a link: “Outsourced Forever” by Stephen Denning.

Mr. Denning writes that the Kindle can’t be made in the US because we have lost our ability to manufacturer a lot of the Kindle’s components. But he goes further, once we lose the ability to design and construct the equipment need to produce the Kindle, the engineers and scientists will leave the US and go to those countries. Brain drain.

Mr. Denning coincidentally reiterates, Mike’s thesis. Mr. Denning states that “Developed economies and their companies will always lose out to the emerging economies and their companies if the battle is to be fought on the basis of lowering costs, which is where traditional management tries to compete.”. So as Mike noted, the “… and you can tell that’s true by the fact that no actual tech company appeared with the President at the signing. Instead, it was chemical and pharma companies — old school legacy industries that are trying to “protect” old businesses, not innovate with the new.”

Give it a few years, and continued patent protection will come back and haunt us since all the patents will be held by the innovative companies overseas. We will be paying them dearly in the form of licensing fees. Be careful of what you ask for in term of protection.

darryl says:

The Four P's

Does anyone here know of or has heard of the “Four Big P’s” of industry ?

I will let you google it if you dont know, or live in ignorance.

Mike, Do you think chemical and pharma companies are not ‘tech’ companies ?

or would you have been happy to consider ‘facebook’ equivalent to the level of technology that does into say the Pharma industry ?

You have a very warped idea of what “tech” is then Mike, or a very narrow one, that is limited to toy gadgets, and playthings like face book and ithings.

Let me guess you consider Google to be a ‘Tech’ company as well, when you consider they are simply an advertising company.

Anyway, have you googled Four P’s yet ?

That is the four P’s of big industry (clue)….

Any Mouse (profile) says:

Re: The Four P's

Nope, not a clue what you’re railing about. Provide a link, if you would. Of course you won’t, that’s beneath you, but it’s worth the shot.

Now, as for pharma? They’re more in the marketing business these days. How many of these ‘new’ (yeah, funny, none of them are NEW) drugs do you think they actually researched? My bet is less than 90%.

darryl says:

example for you

watched a good doco tonight, US Oil company wanted a offshore oil rig of the coast of Texas, who did they contract to build the 1.5 Billion dollar rig ?

Of Course you all should of known the answer to that, who else!!!!!!!

South Korea, who transported it to Texas from Korea ? A dutch company who made $7 Million for that job, and who fitted out the rig with all the equipment ?

South Korea again…

Who puts most of the US satellites up these days ?? Spain and Europe.

Who leads the planet in high energy research ? Oh Europe.
Who are the international dunces of education these days ?
US of A !!!!

Who thinks facebook and google are “tech” companies and pharma companies not ? Mike !!!

Mike have you ever thought of quitting your day job, or considered that everyone you say, the opposite is done ?

You whine against copyright, industry leaders read your crap and say if Mike says they should be relaxed, that is a sure sign they need to be increased.

They read your ‘logical’ argument against patents and like most sane people can see the high value in patents based on your comments !!!!!

They always do the exact opposite to what you claim they should do, it is as if they read what you say, and with the full understanding of what you represent use YOU Mike as the classic example as to why the laws need to be tightened and made more encompassing.

The only effect Mike, that you appear to have for your ’cause’ is a negative one. So in that respect, keep up the good work, or exposing the motives and methods of those who choose to violate the laws and the right of others.

Bravo Zulu…

DB (profile) says:

Patent Marking -- Expired Patents

While a small part of the whole, “I’m troubled by people claiming patents on inventions that are public domain” is a little logically inconsistent with the general tenor of the computer technology industry can do no wrong approach of Techdirt. The most ridiculous thing in the false marking cases was the idea that leaving on a patent number of an expired patent was actionable. All anyone needs to do is plug in the patent number in the appropriate Internet location and you can tell if it’s expired. That, therefore, tells you what’s in the public domain.

Steve R. (profile) says:

Bans Tax Patents - Overlooks Business Plans in General

Just ran across this excerpt from the THE AMERICA INVENTS ACT summary

“The America Invents Act will benefit tax payers directly by prohibiting patents on tax strategies, which often lead to additional fees on taxpayers who are simply complying with the tax laws.” Why not ban patents for similar strategies such as business plans?

Simply another piece of legislation disingenuously tweaked by the Congress/lobbyists to toss-out a microscopic crumb to the general public.

staff says:

another biased article

“nearly useless patent reform bill”

It is far worse.

?This is not a patent reform bill? Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) complained, despite other democrats praising the overhaul. ?This is a big corporation patent giveaway that tramples on the right of small inventors.?

“patent reform”

Just because they call it ?reform? doesn?t mean it is.

The patent bill is nothing less than another monumental federal giveaway for banks, huge multinationals, and China and an off shoring job killing nightmare for America. Even the leading patent expert in China has stated the bill will help them steal our inventions. Who are the supporters of this bill working for??

Patent reform is a fraud on America. This bill will not do what they claim it will. What it will do is help large multinational corporations maintain their monopolies by robbing and killing their small entity and startup competitors (so it will do exactly what the large multinationals paid for) and with them the jobs they would have created. The bill will make it harder and more expensive for small firms to get and enforce their patents. Without patents we cant get funded. Yet small entities create the lion’s share of new jobs. According to recent studies by the Kauffman Foundation and economists at the U.S. Census Bureau, ?startups aren?t everything when it comes to job growth. They?re the only thing.? This bill is a wholesale slaughter of US jobs. Those wishing to help fight this bill should contact us as below.

Small entities and inventors have been given far too little voice on this bill when one considers that they rely far more heavily on the patent system than do large firms who can control their markets by their size alone. The smaller the firm, the more they rely on patents -especially startups and individual inventors. Congress tinkering with patent law while gagging inventors is like a surgeon operating before examining the patient.

Please see for a different/opposing view on patent reform.

patent litigation (user link) says:

a wash

One of the few helpful measures that I see contained in this legislation is a provision requiring a showing of “competitive injury” in order to obtain standing in a false marking suit. This should prove effective in reducing (if not eliminating) the new scourge of false marking patent trolls. And, doubtless, those at the USPTO are looking forward to a probable increase in fees. But, from what I can tell, the rest of this bill is mostly a wash.

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