Saturday, March 31, 2007

AP on peer-to-patent

An AP article posted on redmondmag titled "Infringement Fears Haunt IBM" is so filled with errors it is hard to discuss.

The gist of the central theme is that participating companies may incur liability for willful infringement because they have read applications. The whole point of the patent system is that interested parties, including competitors, ARE SUPPOSED TO READ issued patents (and probably published applications). Infringement damages per se and injunctions may be awarded whether or not one has read the issued patent. The whole premise of the article misunderstands what patents are about. The gain to the public is PUBLIC DISCLOSURE of information.

The article states: Yet some engineers, attorneys and others worry whether comments on a rival's application could make them vulnerable later to willful or deliberate infringement charges. The article seems to say that "comments" could create willful infringement liability. Not clear what the article means by that.

The article also states: The goal is to provide government examiners with the most current and informed opinions of professional, academic and everyday experts, Noveck said earlier this week at a forum to discuss the project.

The article also states: IBM, which has been the leading U.S. patent recipient every year for more than a decade, endorses legislation that would require a patent holder to first notify a company or individual of a willful infringement allegation before filing a lawsuit. The hope is to reduce lengthy, expensive trials that in many cases could be handled out of court.

The article misuses the word "innovation": At least part of the delay is that competition drives companies to start with broad patent claims and then refine them to a specific innovation after repeated denials from patent examiners.

It's not clear what the article means in the following: Critics of the program though are concerned about the potential of "inequitable conduct" court findings that can invalidate [sic] patents when companies fail to submit all relevant information needed to assess whether an application is patent-worthy.


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