Monday, July 23, 2007

Boston Globe: fundamental patent problem is inadequate staffing at USPTO

The next-to-last paragraph of a July 23 Boston Globe editorial gets to the heart of current problems at the USPTO:

Yet the bill is silent on what both sides agree is a fundamental problem: the inadequate staffing of the patent office, which can lead to approval of undeserving patents. There is now a backlog of 600,000 applications, and an examiner has just 19 hours on average to spend on each application.

Current bills do NOT address what the real problem is.

To see this theme, look elsewhere on IPBiz, including

Elsewhere, the Boston Globe notes:

The strongest advocates for changing the law are high-tech firms that often find themselves sued by patent holders who contend that their inventions are being used without license. Lawyers for the high-tech companies have taken to calling these patent holders "patent trolls" and accuse them of bringing suit in federal courts in places like eastern Texas, which has a reputation for favoring plaintiffs in these cases. The high-tech firms want to limit this venue-shopping by patent holders and the damages they can get if their claims are upheld. The firms also want more opportunity to challenge new patents after they have been approved.

Recently, someone did a search on the text "world without patents."

The first hit Google returned was:

Finally, I would like to ask you to imagine a world without patents. Do you think large corporations have too much power as it is now? Imagine what would happen to small inventors *without* the legal protection of patents. Scary.

I agree with all of JPL's comments but the last. In practice, if a large corporation steels an idea from an individual inventor with a patent, it is that inventor's responsibility to sue that corporation. His/her chances of success are small.

One also got a hit to a BusinessWeek article which included text:

BusinessWeek: The solution isn't a world without patents and copyrights. Critics of the strengthening of intellectual-property rights simply want to reverse some recent changes. They say shorter patents, granted less often, will promote more innovation by forcing technology sharing. They also say traditional industries, such as music, would be better off making the Internet their partner rather than their enemy.

One even got a hit to IPBiz, although the words were those of Mike at TechDirt:



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