Patent Re-Exams Improve Patent Quality; So Why Does Congress Want To Limit Them?

from the questions-that-should-be-answered dept

I've explained why I'm not comfortable with the proposed patent reform effort, as there are a number of changes in it that could potentially make the system much worse. One example, as the EFF highlighted last month, was that it would unnecessarily limit the ability of third parties to request a re-exam of a patent. Now the EFF is looking through some statistics and noting some rather shocking numbers about third-party-initiated patent re-exams. Contrary to what some supporters of the patent system claim, it appears that a large majority of these requests aren't just legitimate requests, but serve to have a patent's claims limited or rejected entirely. 92% of re-exam requests are granted, with 3 out of every 4 exams resulting in adjustments (or total rejections) of the patents. In other words, clearly, the process helps improve patent quality. So why would Congress want to remove that part?

However, a much bigger question should probably be: why is the Patent Office so bad at getting things right the first time around? If so many patents end up needing to be corrected on re-exam, it certainly sounds like patent examiners aren't doing a very good job. Given the already massive economic costs that result from bad patents, this should be a major concern.
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Filed Under: patent reform, patents, re-exam, uspto

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  1. identicon
    Unknowing, 18 Mar 2008 @ 11:44pm


    Just thinking aloud, but on your first point, Congress could easily be going ahead with this stupid law becuase of pressure from large corporations holding these general, far-reaching patents in order to get a tigher grip on their industry.

    As for the Patent office not doing its job properly, image, if you will, that you are an officer in charge of reviewing these patents. If a novel idea comes your way, something that seems like its good but could be a bit general, wouldn't you approve the patent as an incentive to the company to start making the product? Could it be that its a form of stimuli for the industry(s)? And then the review of the patent would change it for everyone to follow and create the generic version that everyone can enjoy for less?

    I probably would.

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