by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
obviousness, patents, voip


Patent Office Says Another 'Worst Patent' Should Be Rejected As Obvious

from the now-they-tell-us dept

The latest news in the ongoing effort by the EFF to invalidate ten awful patents looks good, as the Patent Office has given an initial rejection of C2's VoIP patent, claiming that it qualifies as "obvious." The incredibly broad patent (6,243,373) basically covers all VoIP implementations. Of course, this is just the "first office action," which rarely means very much, since the company still has the ability to come back and beg and plead for the USPTO to keep the patent alive (which happens often enough).

Still, it does make you wonder, since it certainly does seem like it was an abundantly obvious patent (yes, even back when it was filed -- someone should talk to Jeff Pulver for some prior art), why it's taken this long for the USPTO to begin to correct its error. While we continue to applaud the EFF for working to get these patents busted, as we mentioned recently, the real travesty is that it's been six years since the EFF began busting patents, and while there's progress on nearly all of the patents, it's an incredible slog -- and these are for the worst of the worst patents. Invalidating bad patents is a ridiculously difficult process. That's really bad, considering all the harm they can do in the meantime.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 23rd, 2010 @ 8:16pm

    Asymmetric rules are what the government is calling "balanced and fair" these days.

    It happens like this, if people start contesting a lot of the patents they will start making more difficult or even trying to get rid of those rules so people don't have a say about it.

    Then people need to complain very loudly so they come around and do something, they will try everything to dodge that

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. icon
    CharlieM (profile), Sep 23rd, 2010 @ 9:23pm

    It blows my mind sometimes to think that Albert Einstein worked in a patent office... how far we've fallen.

    I read TechDirt pretty often; but one thing I may have missed, is some form of outline to fix the problems with the patent process (and I am not talking about the laws). Truth is, I am willing to bet 9/10 patent 'people' don't understand the patents they are rubber stamping - not really their fault.

    How can we fix this? And is the idea to fix this patentable?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Mr. Oizo, Sep 23rd, 2010 @ 9:55pm


    I think that is exactly the reason he came out and did something useful ! His mind could probably no longer stand the burocratic indulges het got stuck with. An advanced form of overcompensation :-)))

    Disclaimer: of course I have no idea here, but it sounds like a reasonable motivating factor.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 23rd, 2010 @ 10:19pm

    Find a panel to rate the degree to witch a sketch of the invention resembles a printing press or a steam engine. If the resemblance exceeds 50%, then it is patentable. If the resemblance is less than 50%, or a comparison isnt logically possible, then it isnt an INVENTION, its just a bunch of words about some idea.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 23rd, 2010 @ 11:04pm

    Perfectly Simple Fix

    The patent office has no motive to get rid of junk patents, other than public embarrassment. Patent trolls have every motive and plenty of money, to get junk patents granted. Thus patents will be junky for evermore, while patent trolls are allowed to make a profit. Fixing that is simple.

    Just get rid of the part of the law which says patent infringement is illegal. Dispose of the concept. The former "patent infringement" is now called "patent use", which is encouraged as promoting competition and helping the economy. Bingo, patent trolls are out of business overnight, the junk patent problem goes away. Patents become a method for inventors to claim inventor status, not owner status. Anybody who wants to implement some technology can do it for themselves, if it really is obvious. If it genuinely is novel and non-obvious, then they check the patent, then hire the inventors to help. All lovely and friendly.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    anger-management dude, Sep 24th, 2010 @ 1:58am

    Illegal Traitorous Subversives

    Commies out to undermine the entire basis of the patent system. String the punks up, I say.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. icon
    Matthew (profile), Sep 24th, 2010 @ 6:40am

    Patent Reviewers

    I wish i could find the source, but i read an article a while back describing the patent review process and the bureaucracy surrounding it. It basically comes down to paperwork.

    If a reviewer OKs a patent, it's done until someone else challenges it, and even then it's mostly someone else's problem. If they deny a patent there's a good chance theyy'll be repeatedly justifying their decision with the applicant and/or their lawyers and their boss(es) through a lengthy appeals process.

    And oh, by the way, part of the reviewers' yearly performance review that determines promotions and pay increases hinges on their throughput - how many patents they reviewed.

    Saying no is a bigger hassle than saying yes, so they usually say yes. Ridiculous.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    staff, Sep 24th, 2010 @ 11:45am

    stop shilling

    "the Patent Office has given an initial rejection of C2's VoIP patent, "

    This will be news to you, but the PTO grants about 95% of reexam requests and routinely rejects all claims on a first action. An organ grinder's monkey (in this case EFF) could get the PTO to reject all claims. Just becasue this patent doesn't belong to you doesnt make it "awful". What objective reasoning do you use to call it such? Can you reason?

    Wake me when when we land. zzzzzzzzzzzz

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 24th, 2010 @ 12:51pm

    Re: stop shilling

    It is denominated "worst" simply because the EFF has nothing better to do than try and garner publicity.

    Yes, virtually every reexam (do not know if this one is ex parte or inter parties) is granted, virtually every reexam results in an initial rejection of the claims complained about in a reexamination request, and only rarely is an entire patent adjudicated to be invalid under the reexamination process.

    Seems to me that the EFF has too much time on its hands and nothing better to do than whine and complain about patent and copyright law.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Gene Cavanaugh, Sep 24th, 2010 @ 2:35pm

    EFF patent busting

    Totally agree, Michael. Patents (and other IP) can be very useful, sometimes in ways that are not obvious, but in the present system they are used abusively, in ways that are bad for the US economy.
    I would almost rather see IP outlawed (well, for copyright, not even "almost") than to see us on the "slippery slope" present law puts us on.
    Of course, without campaign finance reform, Congress will block any real attempt to stop the abuses, since some of their most important campaign contributors are involved.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 25th, 2010 @ 10:07pm

    Re: Re: stop shilling

    Amusing that both you and the self-admitted shill above are incapable of actually defending the patent on its merits.

    Not surprising, of course.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    alex, Sep 26th, 2010 @ 2:52pm

    Most of patents are just junks

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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