by Mike Masnick
Wed, Feb 6th 2008 7:21pm
While I'm obviously a strong believer in the idea that our patent system is fundamentally broken, I've also made it clear that the current plans for patent reform have a lot of problems. While it will fix a few things, it will also make other parts much worse, and will lead to even more abuse of the system. It's "reform" that's designed to simply patch a few things that are seen as problems, rather than recognizing the core, fundamental problems with the system -- and, thus, it will do little to help (and could hurt). The EFF, which supports this patent legislation generally, is complaining about another potential problem with the current reform package. As written, the patent reform effort would make it much more difficult for third parties to contest questionable patents in some cases. Basically, rather than allowing them to request a full patent re-exam, it will force third parties to use the newly created post-grant review system, which has some limitations. For example, it would mean that groups like the EFF would need to contest a patent within 12 months of it being issued. That's a problem, because it often doesn't become clear how problematic a patent is until much later. In fact, if this policy were in place, it would have made the EFF's patent busting project impossible. From the very start of the patent system, it was supposed to only be used in the rarest of circumstances. With that in mind, it makes sense to make the process for getting rid of bad, unnecessary and dangerous patents as easy as possible. It's unfortunate that the system has morphed into the exact opposite.
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