Also there are "Accelerated Exams" where you can pay to the USPTO to accelerate your examination and where you provide the "Best Prior Art" and the USPTO. I've seen patents get granted within 3 months of application. It's pretty awesome if you want to become a patent troll.
Yes, CEASE AND DESIST Settlement agreement in lieu of full blown litigation for patent infringement. Kinda defies all logic, but if you don't sign this agreement, we're going to sue your ass off and cost you millions or bankrputcy, either way you're going down.
I know this sounds trivial over a microwave oven. In fact most microwave patents are now part of the public domain and free use. However, all that needs to be done is filing a new patent under business methods to regain control over the "Method of cooking food through a box with a window" (yes, I intentionally made that sound stupid because that's how stupid patents are these days) and then sue everyone who uses a microwave and produces a microwave, to include restaurants, gas stations, households and on and on and on....
The impact this could have on Patent-Infringing End Users is also frightful. Seriously, end users can be sued by the masses and this is also used as a scare tactic to get businesses to cough up licensing fees on now patented public domain knowledge or to cease and desist.
The USPTO will grant you a patent on just about ANYTHING these days and it's becoming more and more evident as we discover them. All you need is the money to pay to play and it's yours!
"This is actually why I don't develop new software products any more. My products are used in a highly competitive industry and suing over patents goes on fairly frequently. I can't afford lawyers to defend my business. So far our luck has held but I fear every day."
You and me both buddy.. we're not alone. What we need is an elite digital underground of programmers who are stifled and sitting around writing 1+1=2 code because real code is dangerous these days. I only hope this situation gets sorted out.
Another major problem here is the AIA went to a "First Inventor to File" not "First Inventor to Use his Brain and Invent" method of filing for patents, which in turn overthrows a megapool of prior-art called "The Internet" which itself has been patented over and over.
What this means in simple terms: It doesn't matter if it's YOUR idea or not, as long as you're the first person to run and file a patent on any method, any idea, you get the credit - even if it's something that has existed for 100's of years.
So before you go sharing your ideas with any VC just remember they can string you along while they are secretly filing a patent on your idea and TAKING YOUR HARD WORK AND MONOPOLIZING ON IT, then give you the boot, or even sue you for your own ideas!
Defensive patents my ass - this is pure American Greed! Hey there's a TV Show called American Greed, can't wait to see future episodes on Patent Trolls...
There's the problem. Let's say I held a patent on:
"The method of applying the color blue to a canvas with other colors to make up abstract art".
Now... I could go sue any artist who uses the color blue. Yeah this sounds funny, but look up Klein Blue and you'll see.
So with this patent that is obviously for "Using the color blue in artwork" I could sue literally anyone who uses blue, an offset color of blue, or better yet, sue someone who uses any derivative of color that uses blue at it's core because it's a derivative of Blue, or at least I say it is.
All it takes is "I believe you infringed upon my patent" to initiate a multi-million dollar threat against another person or company, even though I know deep down my patent is bullshit, I could still use it to distort the claims, overbroaden them as much as I want, and then extort money for unsuspecting artists.
So that leads us to the extortion bit... Regardless of what a patent truly claims it only takes one scumbag thug of a patent lawyer to draft a hateful extortion "Demand Letter" to you to make you realize the gravity of this threat. If you respond, and don't give them what they want, you'll be served with a Federal Lawsuit for patent infringement and there's NOTHING you can do to get this parasite off your back except pay outrageous licensing fees - even though you know deep down this patent you're being sued over is completely horseshit.
The problem here could also be that the patent holder wants you to Cease and Desist without any licensing. If you refuse, they sue. Therefore, MONOPOLY is in effect and nobody else can produce this badass microwave. It happens... more than you can imagine, and most CEASE AND DESIST settlements do the following:
1) NON-Disclosure (Squashing First Amendment Rights)
2) NON-Compete - Can't assist anyone or produce any products in that entire field of invention that comes anywhere near a microwave or you'll be sued again (Obvious, some even enforce WORLDWIDE NON-COMPETE)
3) Patent NO-Challenge Clauses - Agreements often try to impose no challenge clauses on the defendant stating them or anyone working for or related or known to them cannot legally challenge a patent through the USPTO. The Second Circuit Court holds that No-Challenge Clauses are unenforceable - yet it's still going to cost you a ton of money to have this proven in court.
4) They usually also stick clauses where you can't file a countersuit or take any further action against the plaintiff.
So... the above agreements are usually signed "Under Duress" due to the total one-sided court systems and nature of Patent lawsuits. These types of situations are on the radar of the Federal Trade Commission under Anti-Trust and Anti-Competitive.
The drawback to this whole situation is INNOVATION IS STIFLED when these monopoly patent holding fucks don't want to share their so-called abstract idea patent rights and crush competition - even though they could be extracting licensing fees, they sometimes use patents as swords to completely kill competition, thus allowing them to fix prices in the industry.
Looks like you fell for the SCOTUS sense of humor... This week everyone is reporting that Software Patents are still legit according to the USPTO's new direction on patents which didn't change anything at all. Nothing happened here. We need to keep fighting!
Ironically this is the type of reporting that's needed on Patents!! I still don't think the general public gets it and comparisons like this are so desperately needed.
You do realize this very website infringes upon about 185 patents? I know it'd be tough to write an article on how you infringed, but the truth is it can also "Keep TechDirt From Being So Awesome" just like every other non facebook/google/microsoft or other tech giant websites.
We're all doomed by this patent system. Just remember it's not always wise to assert your patents right away. Make a list of infringers, wait a few years, and then nail them with 3x damages x Years and you have a huge chunk of money coming your way.
Please keep writing these comparison articles!!
Techdirt has not posted any stories submitted by Jimmy59.