Within the bill proposed for patent reform (H.R. 2795) is a section which would establish a post-grant opposition procedure. There is currently no opposition procedure in the U.S. Sadly, an article in the San Diego Metropolitan Magazine wrongly suggests that H.R. 2795 curtails the amount of opposition, exactly the opposite of what the bill does. From the article -->
Finally, the bill [H.R. 2795] curtails the amount of opposition to a patent once it has been granted. A certain amount of post opposition action has been accepted in the system on the grounds that the opposition can validate the claim with “prior art” not considered by the Patent Office. Under the amended bill, post grant opposition would be limited to nine months from the issuance of the patent. This is another instance in which U.S. practice is moving to an international standard; Europe’s patent system also places limits on post grant opposition.
There are at least three variations of patent reform. The fourth hearing on patent reform in the 109th Congress was held on September 15, 2005. The first two focused on the contents of a Committee print and the third on H.R. 2795. On Sept. 15, the merits of an amendment in the nature of a substitute to H.R. 2795, the ''Patent Act of 2005,'' that was developed in late July pursuant to negotiations among Subcommittee Members, industry representatives, and professional associations. A second document, a September redline to the substitute reflecting further changes, also will be discussed.
from Jay Thomas:
With respect to oppositions, predecessor versions of the bill allowed oppositions to be brought 9 months after the patent issued or 6 months after the patentee brought a charge of infringement. More recent versions of the bill eliminate that latter alternative.
Setting time limits for the instigation of a proposed grant proceeding requires a careful balancing of interests. The current proposal is in line with the established foreign practice which ordinarily requires an opposition to be brought, I think, either 6 to 9 months of patent issuance. These time limits prevent harassment or at least reduce potential for harassment of the patentee and provide stability for the proprietary right.
On the other hand, the current U.S. equivalent to opposition, the reexamination proceeding, allows a request to be brought at any time during the life of a patent. Further, unlike foreign counterpart legislation, H.R. 2795 places strict [query: unrealistic?] limits on the length of opposition proceedings, might also reduce the opportunity to harass a patent owner.
To follow up on this theme, one of my scientific colleagues was one of the more cited physicists in solid state; the trouble was he was being cited because people were criticizing his work (i.e., saying he was wrong). The managers of course merely measured the number of citations, not the underlying reasons for the citations, and duly promoted him. Google PageRank has similar difficulties.
On a comparison of search engine results, see