Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick

Patent Office Chief Believes In Bad Ideas For Reform

from the bad,-bad-ideas dept

The idea that the patent system in the US needs to be reformed is not new. Many people -- on all sides of the debate -- seem to agree that there are some serious problems as the system is set up. However, as we feared when Jon Dudas (who helped push through the DMCA) took over last year, his ideas for patent reform are likely to make the system much worse, not better. His first idea is to convert the US system, which is supposed to award the patent to the first person who invented the idea, to the European system, which gives the patent to the first person to file the idea for a patent. This gives more incentive for more companies to rush through patents and get them filed before anyone else can. His second idea is to make it easier to challenge a patent after it's granted. On the whole, this is better than nothing -- but shouldn't the challenging be done before the patent is granted, so as to avoid the long and costly patent battles involved with fighting bogus patents? One other proposal involves making patents last for an even longer time, which makes almost no sense in this day and age, where the span of time over which it makes sense to exploit a monopoly on an invention seems shorter and shorter.

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  • identicon
    Precision Blogger, 26 Apr 2005 @ 6:49am

    It should not be easy to edit a patent after it is

    The typical scenario here is open to LOTS of abuse:

    Company A files a patent.

    Company B very carefully invents something that does not use that patent.

    Company A refiles the patent, explaining that they really intended it to cover what company B is doing.

    NOW SEE HERE! If company A failed to cover what B was doing in the first place, they should not be able to ambush them like this later. And even if company A fails in the process, think of all the legal fees!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    akatsuki, 26 Apr 2005 @ 10:55am

    I don't think they are all that bad

    The whole first to invent thing is a huge waste of money in legal battles and a big headache. The rest of the world uses first-to-file and it works just fine. Frankly if you have an idea you patent it right away and worry about reduction to practice later.

    If it is easier to challenge then it makes sense to grant patents and eliminate them later. People can invest in their patents immediately instead of hesitating for the approval process. Frankly I don't think the USPTO examiners should even look at a patent unless it is challenged, which would then include submissions of prior art. However, the corollary is that patents would have to be easily voidable in this situation.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Ronald J Riley, 28 Aug 2005 @ 6:00pm

    Predatory Companies

    I can't say that the PTO is necessarily good or bad, just that it is a rather large bureaucracy which wants to avoid being criticized for errors it makes. They did their best to shift the blame and consequences of delays in patents to the inventors during the last patent reform fight. And they promoted the change in patent term because it is much less risky to have an inventors mad that they lost patent term than having big companies and their well funded lobbying organizations criticizing them. They swore that most inventors would have longer terms, yet today an ever longer pendency delays the patenting many inventors to go bankrupt.

    While patent quality is somewhat poorer in some areas, in large part due to politicians diverting patent fees to pet port projects, there are no problems which cannot be addressed by retaining those fees. But big business sees this as an excuse to weaken the patent system with early publication of potential competitor's inventions and post grant opposition of those patents. The PTO is perfectly willing, even eager to allow post grant patent opposition so that they can claim that problems with issued patents are not their fault. The net effect of this is to add about a year on top of the longer patent pendency we now face.

    Investors are not about to invest in a company depending on a patent until the opposition period is over. The end result is that a patent would be published at 18 months while the inventor would be powerless to commercialize for at least another three years after publication. I say at least three years because that is the best scenario an inventor would face. The most important inventions, breakthrough inventions pendency would be much longer and this means that the most important inventions would be the most at risk.

    This bill is not about patent reform, it is really about promoting the interests of corporate predators over the interests of both the public and inventors. The reason it is not in the public's interests is that a community loses even more then the inventor when a large company gets away with theft. They lose jobs and tax base because most of the patent thieves are multinational corporations who promptly ship the jobs and tax base to other countries.

    If you want to stop these corporate predators from legalizing the rape of the American people they call patent reform join us.

    Ronald J Riley, President
    Professional Inventors Alliance
    RJR ?at?
    RJR Direct # (202) 318-1595

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Mike (profile), 28 Aug 2005 @ 7:52pm

      Re: Predatory Companies

      If investors will only invest in a company after a patent opposition period is over you have two problems:

      1. The company isn't going anywhere if it's *only* competitive advantage is its patents.

      2. The company is talking to the wrong investors.

      That's got nothing to do with patent reform one way or the other.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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