Saturday, March 08, 2008

Patent reformers: lemmings or lemming-hoaxers?

As the gears in the patent reform debate shift to a "too low" rate of 44% from a "too high" rate of 97%, one thinks back to the 1958 Disney documentary White Wildnerness which tricked a whole generation of children into thinking lemmings would commit mass suicide.

In the last few years, a group of patent reformers, cast in the role of lemming film photographer James R. Simon, have been trying to trick Congress and others into thinking the patent grant rate is unusually high. As with the lemming movie, they have succeeded in fooling a lot of people (the lemming hoax was really not unveiled until a 1983 investigation by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's Brian Vallee).
Myths and urban legends die hard. One wonders if the patent reformers have the imaginations of lemmings, simply are lemmings, or are performing an intentional hoax.

More on the 97% grant rate that never was

The 97% patent grant rate lives on in law reviews

More on QWIII [Quillen and Webster]. From 88 JPTOS 1068: The recent discussion of elevated patent grant rates by Quillen and Webster in 2006 is based on an inappropriate legal framework and flawed numerics and does not yield accurate values of patent grant rate.

Of the lemmings --> the Disney film makers faked the entire sequence using imported lemmings (bought from Inuit children), a snow covered turntable on which a few dozen lemmings were forced to run, and literally throwing lemmings into the sea to show the alleged suicides. [Wikipedia]

Of the patent grant rate/quality "relation," the real issue is how the USPTO is conforming to the statutory requirements of patent law. Evaluations of "quality" should analyze issues of inappropriately GRANTED patents, AND inappropriately WITHHELD patents.


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