USPTO: Using Three Knowledge Bases To Diagnose Is Patentable
from the three-databases-makes-a-difference dept
Joe Mullin has an update on the situation and the one bit of good news is that the lawsuit itself has been settled, and Shafer really just needs to post a link to ABL's "response" to his claims.
But the more disturbing part is that the USPTO has upheld the '988 patent in question, despite over 200 pages of prior art submitted by Shafer and his lawyers. Why?
Even though doctors had used databases to help choose therapies to treat various ailments for decades before the first relevant patent application at issue was filed in 1998, Hughes said the '988 patent should be allowed. Her reasoning: the prior art references didn't distinguish a system with exactly three "knowledge bases." And that distinction alone--having three "knowledge bases"--is a patentable advance, Hughes decided.Yes, you read that right. Even though people have used such knowledge bases for decision making for quite some time, the fact that we're talking about three knowledge bases suddenly makes it patentable. Because without patents, no one would have ever thought to use exactly three knowledge bases. Shafer and others are already pushing back on that and hoping to still invalidate the patent. Mullin notes that Ted Shortliffe, president of the American Medical Informatics Association, has joined Shafer in pointing out how ridiculous the idea that "three" knowledge bases makes some sort of meaningful difference:
This is a trivial distinction without a practical difference since multiple knowledge bases could be merged into a single entity and have long been separated into multiple representations largely for computational convenience and clarity.Honestly, can someone explain how the USPTO is employing people who think that having three knowledge bases turns using knowledge bases for diagnostic purposes into a patentable invention?