NTP Trying To Drag Out The Patent Rejection Process? Wonder Why...

from the hmm dept

Last week the US Patent Office took the surprising step of reaching out and calling both RIM and NTP to let them know that it's very, very likely to reject all of NTP's patents at the heart of the excruciatingly long patent battle with RIM. This was extremely important because the judge in the patent lawsuit had said that he wouldn't wait for the Patent Office's ruling, mainly because he was sick of dealing with the case (who knew that impatience was a reasonable reason for ignoring important evidence and pushing a billion dollar fine?). So, now, the two parallel timelines become much more important. The companies are supposed to file documents with the court by February 1, 2006 -- and the judge is expected to rule soon afterwards. As for the patent review process, NTP was supposed to get its response in by the end of this month, but has managed to squeeze out a 30-day extension meaning it won't have to file the response until the nearly the same date as when the judge will make his decision. While NTP denies it's dragging out the process, it's clearly in the company's interest to do so. Still, we wonder how the judge can, in good conscience, still move forward with the case when the Patent Office has clearly stated that it believes it made a huge mistake in originally granting these patents. Meanwhile, it still seems like a reasonable question as to whether RIM can sue the Patent Office for its admitted negligence in issuing these patents (though, of course, they might want to wait until the patents are really rejected).

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  1. icon
    Mike (profile), 30 Dec 2005 @ 9:44am

    Re: ridiculous


    Hmm. I'm not sure how often you read Techdirt, but I make suggestions on how to improve the patent system all the time. I don't do it in every single post, of course, but to say that all I do is complain about the system without offering constructive ideas is ridiculous and ignorant.

    I have studied the patent system extensively (despite what you claim), and have repeatedly made suggestions for how to make it much better.

    Among the many improvements we've advocated are first recognizing that obviousness and prior art are two different things -- and therefore understanding that ideas can be obvious without their being prior art. Based on that, it makes sense to include some sort of peer review on patents where people who are actual experts in the field can weigh in on the obviousness of the patent. This also helps solve the problem (that even you stated) that patent examiners don't scale. We've also advocated shorter patent exam periods with the ability to extend a patent over longer periods only if the patent is actually being used.

    The core idea behind what we write about here is that the patent system should be used to increase innovation (you know, progress science and useful arts blah blah blah), not just lock up someone's invention. Innovation is all about successfully bringing products to market, and many patents are used for the opposite -- to set up an extra tollbooth for bringing real innovations to market, adding lawyer fees (often at much higher than your $220/hour) rather than money that can go into research and real development.

    We'd also support making the applicant pay additional fees for obviously bogus patent applications -- as it would hopefully cut down on the more ridiculous patent applications.

    Even Thomas Jefferson was quite worried about the patent system, noting that granting exclusive monopolies could serve the reverse impact of slowing down innovation, and believed that patents should only be granted in very rare cases -- something we support.

    I never said we wanted a perfect system (where did I ever say that?), but I do believe it's possible to make a much better system.

    Again, you fall into a tautological argument: "patents are too complex to make perfect, so just leave them as is."

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