One Reason Why The USPTO Granted Ridiculously Stupid Internet Patents: Patent Examiners Were Banned From Using The Internet

from the wtf dept

We already reported on the surprising but good news ruling out of East Texas, that Eolas' crazy patents were judged invalid by the jury. However, Alex Howard's writeup about the ruling includes a crazy tidbit that came out during the short trial that deserves separate attention:
One interesting detail that emerged in the case was that the U.S. Patent Office didn't have access to the Internet in 1994 and was apparently forbidden from going on the Internet in 1997, which would make research into prior art in cyberspace somewhat of a challenge.
I'm not sure I'd use "interesting" as the adjective there. More like insane. I mean, it's pretty well-known that many patent examiners focused solely on other patents or journal articles as the key sources of prior art, rather than what was actually happening in the field, but being forbidden from going online is just crazy. Luckily for the internet, this was still a time period when most tech companies believed that software wasn't patentable -- something that changed the following year when the ridiculous State Street ruling opened the floodgates. While certainly some really bad patents (like Eolas') made it through, just think how much worse things would have been if there were as many internet/software patent filings from 1990 to 1998 as there were after 98.

Filed Under: internet, patents, uspto
Companies: eolas, google, yahoo

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  1. identicon
    darryl, 10 Feb 2012 @ 5:24pm

    patented prior art - is required - applicant responsible for search

    Masnick, learn something !!!

    The patent office is not required to discover prior art, that responsibility falls with the applicant !!!.

    Then it falls with the person who holds the patent on that prior art (if undescovered) to file a claim to have that patent rejected.

    I am guessing that Masnick has never taken out a patent, as it is clear he has no concept of the process, or what prior art is or means !!

    Obviously that is not a problem for a person who has a complete disregard for the truth or reality for that matter.
    Or for someone who believes 'culture' is a 'business model' !!..

    Another -10 points off masnick's credability counter...

    If there is so much prior art as you claim masnick why are there not an equal amount (LOTS) of claims for prior art, and many more patents being rejected ?

    You also do not have to look for prior art, you have to look for patented prior art.

    If some moron invents something, and uses it in public without gaining patent protection (or even patent pending), they it is their stupid fault for not gaining a patent on that invention.

    It is not 'just' prior art, is it recognised prior, that recognisition comes from that prior art having allready been provided with patent protection.

    Learn something please masnick, because now you are either 1) talking from ignorance

    probably both...

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