Sunday, June 24, 2007

Gross praises peer-to-patent, but let's get real

Grant Gross, not exactly known for an even-handed look at patent issues, presented a favorable look at peer-to-patent, with nary a downside.

Gross noted of peer-to-patent:

The program has multiple goals, chief among them to weed out invalid patents, said Beth Noveck, a professor at the New York Law School who originally proposed the program in July 2005. Many tech vendors have pushed Congress to fix what they see as a broken patent system, and one of the biggest concerns is that overworked USPTO examiners grant too many undeserving patents.

One goal is to "improve the quality of patents by providing the patent office with more and better information about inventions for which applications are filed," Noveck said. "We want to prevent the issuance of undeserving patent claims."

Another goal is to make USPTO "more accountable and transparent to the technology community," she added.

In an upcoming article, LBE writes:

The episode with the two papers by Noveck illustrates one foreseeable problem with peer-to-patent. Competitors of the patent applicant are likely to furnish only prior art adverse to the applicant (to advance their own agenda), without discussing either the validity of that cited art or the possibility of intervening art discrediting the cited art. In the above-discussed case, the story advanced by Jaffe and Lerner on page 144 of Innovation and Its Discontents was cited for its truth without an independent analysis of its actual accuracy or a mention of an intervening article which discredited the story advanced by Jaffe and Lerner. Jaffe and Lerner's discussion of the '811 patent falls into the category of an urban legend. Another foreseeable problem with peer-to-patent is that the procedure, if generally adopted, would benefit patent system players with more resources over independent inventors operating with marginal resources. Peer-to-patent will be gamed in a predictable way to the disadvantage of predictable victims.


Eric Bangeman had written on June 8:

Given the degree to which the US patent system is in dire need of fixing, the CPRP should be welcomed with open arms. The USPTO hopes that the pilot will be a big success and that, in conjunction with patent reform legislation recently introduced in Congress, we'll end up a with a "highly participatory" examination process. With experts looking over applications for instances of prior art and, most importantly, providing explanations for examiners who might otherwise not fully grasp the concepts outlined in an application, the end result should be stronger patents with nonobvious claims.

IPBiz notes that with "explanations" like Noveck gave of page 144 of Innovation and Its Discontents nobody will grasp the basic concept of "prior art" and the end result will be mass confusion.

Separately, patentprospector looks at the Gross article:

The Washington Post inked dross from PC World's Grant Gross about how marvelous it is that big companies let little people take potshots at patent applications.

Pamela Jones, founder of Groklaw, a messy web site rummaging about open-source and free software legal issues, at least had a colorful quote: ""I think of this project as spraying insecticide on stupid patents before they can multiply; and your knowledge of prior art is the bug spray."

[The post had a picture of Alfred E. Neuman.]


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