Monday, April 09, 2007

USPTO union problems origin of patent delay?

Foresight, quoting Small Times: Once trained, nano patent examiners are able to secure private industry jobs at three times the salary provided by the USPTO, which is limited in its ability to counter-offer due to strong union forces.

Comments from just-n-examiner on the general issue of labor problems at the USPTO:

Personally, I'd take everything management and the union states with a grain of salt. They both have their own agendas and statistics can be manipulated to prove anything.

The awards are based on production not quality. I have met quite a few examiners that, knowing their leaving their posts, have ramped up production by pumping out drivel. I kid you not, I met an examiner that boasted producing at 150% production. Unfortunately, every action was a two page action of nonsense such as "Claims 1 - 77 are disclosed by Smith (US Patent 123,456,789). (see col. 1 - 98)." The end. It's taken my art unit about a year to deal with that mess. But supposedly he was a great producer.

Personally, I like doing good work. Very strange, I know. But I envision a time when the time alloted gets reduced and I too will be forced to pump out a two page action of mish-mash much to the applicant's chagrin. But at least I'll be hitting my production numbers.

***from a different commenter on just-n-examiner -->

As some background, if you don't already know, I was an examiner from 1990-1999 and have been in private practice for the past 8 years. I see, and hear, a lot of comments from examiners that applicants are filing for "anything" and for subject matter "they know is not patentable." Guess what? That's nonsense. Every client that I've worked with makes rational business decisions about what to file. They have disclosure programs with their engineers to encourage invention disclosure ideas, they have monthly, quarterly, etc. meetings to review and evaluate the disclosures to determine which to proceed with, they have budgets that have to be adhered to. Their pockets are not bottomless. Trust me, before an application ends up on an examiner's docket, many decisions have already been made that it's worth being there.

***Separately, a complaint from the IT biz -->

With his background, Shawn Lewis has insight into both sides of today’s patent fights. (In fact, VoIP Inc recently contacted several companies it believes are infringing on its click-to-call patents. The company says it hopes to resolve this amicably.)

Lewis isn’t shy about weighing on the Verizon/Vonage patent lawsuit.

There’s a cost to developing intellectual property, he says, and it should be protected. However, “if you’re going to enforce patent rights you should have a use for them. There should be practice and use analysis to patent awarding. [IPBiz note to Shawn Lewis: there is a utility requirement in patent law, but there is not a "commercializability" requirement.]

“Why didn’t Verizon enforce the patent before,” he continues. “Instead of waiting until the peak moment to jump into the market and rape everybody. Now, because there’s a threat of competition you see people trying to put a choke hold on the business.”

In addition, Verizon has opened a Pandora’s box that won’t be easily closed.

“I can guarantee somewhere out there exists a patent that pre-dates Verizon’s,” he says. “Probably 20, 25 people will stand up and say they have patents. It’s going to be a mess. A lot of people are going to be afraid to enter this field.”

Part of the problem is the nature of these patents, according to Lewis.

‘If I asked you to look at a circle and a square, everyone could tell me the difference. But that’s not the case with these Internet integration patents. Here we’re talking about [process and use] technology where interpretation is different for every person.

“There needs to be a high level review of how we look at patents,” he adds. “There needs to be a new set of rules.”


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