Psst! Patent Examiners Do Not Scale

from the repeat-after-me dept

It's a refrain we've been repeating year after year: patent examiners don't scale. While some patent system supporters continue to insist the only problem with the patent system is not enough examiners, that's simply incorrect. Thanks to the way the patent system has changed over the years, combined with the ever-increasing rate of technological change and advancement, the number of patent applications are only going to increase at a rather rapid rate -- far exceeding any attempt to hire out of the backlog. The Government Accountability Office has basically said as much, admitting that even if the USPTO could hire 1,200 new examiners each year over the next five years, the patent backlog would continue to increase.

The answer is clearly not to focus on hiring more patent examiners. The way the system is currently designed, this is not a problem you solve by hiring more people. You only solve this problem by reducing the number of patent applications. And, the only way to do that is to completely revamp the patent system itself. Don't think the current attempt at patent reform is the answer, either. While there are some good things in there, the proposal to switch from a "first to invent" system to a "first to file" system will make this problem worse. By using a "first to file" system, the incentive is to file as quickly as possible for any idea possible, to make sure you beat anyone else. A first to invent system at least gives the person some leeway to make sure that it's worth filing.

In the meantime, let's repeat it once more: patent examiners don't scale. If you design the patent system to expand at a rapid rate (which, thanks to the USPTO, the courts and Congress, we have...), then it's only natural that it will scale well beyond the reach of a system that requires humans to analyze each and every patent. The end result is that a lot of bad applications get approved, which only increases the problem, since more people try to patent bad concepts, knowing that they have a decent chance of getting it through the system.
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Filed Under: patent examiners, patent reform, patents


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  1. identicon
    Amnon Mike Cohen, 2 Mar 2008 @ 4:41am

    Pre-Patent method, is the best practical way

    Patents are useless unless you can profit from the invention as it is in the registered Intellectual Property art, so first you need commercial protection, capital in place for the business strategy plan, and when you have a market ready commercial project, you can then apply for the patent which is always is legally possible by the language you employ, if you did not also file as first to invent and first to file and first not to publish option like I have done - while the pre-patent commercialization method I employ, which is another of my inventions, and you can also by pass or infringe on your original or create a new application, if your invention is original and actual is a new art or innovation, but is not only an idea on or a copy of existing patent.
    As to farther protection, on national or international patents, and how to protect the patenting rights while developing the commercial-project or profitable-venture, you will need to contact me directly for the more confidential and trade secrets of the yet new method and its registry plus trading-post facilitation under the existing limitations of the patent method and its USPTO plus examiners limitations and wrongdoing.

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