Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick

Peer Reviewed Patents?

from the an-idea... dept

Most of the plans coming out for patent reform simply move the problem around, rather than actually tackle the issues facing the patent system. One new proposal (just from a law school, not within government) is intriguing though. The idea would be to open up the patent system and make it more like peer-reviewed research journals. Inventors could apply to have a patent reviewed the traditional way (with an examiner) and get a short, five year, patent. Or, they could open it up to be peer reviewed by experts in the space -- and if it passes, they get a twenty year patent. There are some logistical questions that this raises, and given that the peer reviewed scientific process is under some criticism lately you can see how this might not be a perfect solution either. However, it is at least worth exploring. Clearly, the current system of having a general patent examiner who isn't all that familiar with the technology in question isn't working at all.

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  • identicon
    blankmeyer, 14 Jul 2005 @ 12:30pm

    This idea has promise

    I'm sure I've heard this idea somewhere before, but it is one worth further discussion (or would it be peer-review?).
    I think any (tech-minded) person will agree that the USPTO is broken and needs an overhaul. This idea would alleviate some of the backlog and protect against many of the frivolous patents we see being approved every month. Someone needs to champion this idea and work to implement it.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Jul 2005 @ 5:01pm

    real solution

    They way to limit ridiculous patents is to limit the number of patents an individual or company can hold. If you can only have 20 active patents then you'd find those thousands of absurd 'one click' patents would quickly dissappear.

    Sadly, the politics of implementing such a rational policy would make it impossible.

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

    • identicon
      Ivan Sick, 14 Jul 2005 @ 5:41pm

      Re: real solution

      I really like your idea but unfortunately (still hypothetically though) it's easy for a company to have more than one name, for various purposes, multiplying that 20.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 14 Jul 2005 @ 7:16pm

        Re: real solution

        Yes, there are big problems with this idea that need to be solved, but it's the only idea that protects REAL inventions without burdening the rest of us with trivial rubbish.

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

  • identicon
    George Margolin, 30 Jul 2005 @ 11:27pm

    Peer Review of Patent equals Poor Review

    Mike -- you're clearly a very bright fellow. AND you said that peer review in science has got some problems. True. Now THINK of what inventions and patents require. First they have to be novel, useful, and have "an inventive flash" that people skilled in the art might understand but HAVE NOT COME UP WITH!

    Meaning hat the Poor Peers had NOT thought of it.So asking THEM to review it is an excercise in futility. MORE IMPORTANT -- PR (as in Poor Review) would eliminate the Deal that the Government suggesting when Jefferson and a few other smart guys -- created the Patent System and put it into the Constitution. The DEAL was -- that IF the inventor Disclosed his invention to the Gov -- the gov would PROTECT the secrecy of it until it issued as a patent and THEN the original inventor had a period of time in which to exploit this or stop others from using his invention. The period has been 14 years, and later 17 years from ISSUE of the patent. And is now, because of some hanky panky with the Eurpeans and Japanese -- is now 20 years FROM INITIAL FILING. That "ain't" the same as 17 years from Issue. But it's something.

    Now imagine what would happen if someones super duper secret invention of how to make -- let's say, an Anti Gravity device that could fit in your belt buckle.

    If THAT little secret were passed around the world, for everyone to see -- and yet was not YET protected -- or even granted -- What do you think would happen.

    I personally think that the inventor -- and the patent system would be screwed.

    Let's make it simple. A peer review means that the peers are suposed to have knowledge in the art. But as I said before -- they DIDN'T have enough oomph to have invented it. Why then should they be asked to critique it? Most of them would feel like fools for NOT having invented something they were supposed to be master of.

    Anyway Mike. BAD IDEA. In fact -- VERY BAD IDEA. But I can't blame you because others have also considered this. They were and are WRONG too.

    George Margolin
    A Professional American Inventor

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

    • icon
      Mike (profile), 31 Jul 2005 @ 10:27am

      Re: Peer Review of Patent equals Poor Review

      Hmm. So, let me get this straight... you would RATHER have patents reviewed by people who know nothing about the subject, and have them make the determination on whether or not it's non-obvious to the skilled practitioner?

      Sorry. With the number of bogus patents making it through, that just doesn't cut it.

      As I've said before, the idea of protecting the invention doesn't make much sense. An invention is worthless unless it can be brought to market successfully. So, stop worrying about patents and get your product to market and see how it does in the marketplace.

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

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