Sunday, May 09, 2010

Different takes on patent reform

In an article titled Backlog of patents still stifling potential jobs, director says , John Schmid writes on patent issues from the BIO meeting in Chicago, including text:

The Journal Sentinel last year documented the deep problems at the agency, detailing a backlog that had grown to 1.2 million applications. Hamstrung by a series of problems, including congressional diversions of its funding since the early 1990s, the Patent Office fell hopelessly behind at a time when the technologies it protects ought to have been reinvigorating the U.S. economy. Its efforts to catch up made matters only worse, with the agency rejecting applications at one point at an unprecedented 60% rate - including many that were proved later to be worthy of patents.

The comments to the article were of some interest, including a twist on George Scott and "The Formula":

Patents are getting out of hand. About the only reason for a patent these
days is to inhibit innovation - most patents seem to be to keep others from
doing things. People who do things just DO it and don't worry about the

The reason that Tesla is using many small batteries in their electric cars is
that Exxon has the patent on using bigger ones (> 10aH) in an automobile.
How many electric cars does Exxon make?

Change the patent laws such that the owner of a patent must use it. A
patent should expire within one year if the owner makes no effort to exploit
it. THAT would inspire innovation.

IPBiz notes that such a suggestion would put most universities and most small inventors out of the patent business. The point of getting a patent is to allow small guys to enter into the marketplace and make deals with people who have the power (money) to develop the invention.


Of StevenR's comment: --The reason that Tesla is using many small batteries in their electric cars is that Exxon has the patent on using bigger ones (> 10aH) in an automobile. How many electric cars does Exxon make?
-- what patent of Exxon is StevenR referencing?
Of StevenR's suggestion, the patent system allows smaller entities, including university professors and individual "garage" inventors, to obtain protection to enter the market system in order to get financing to produce the invention. StevenR's suggestion makes no sense.
Of the article itself, until fee diversion is ended, the USPTO does not have the money to do its job and the backlog will continue. When Zoe Lofgren asked Kappos if he would support a bill merely to end fee diversion, Kappos would not answer.


**UPDATE. As of 11 May 2010, StevenR has not made a response to the comment. For a different take on NPE's see the article by Poltorak , which includes the text:

If you own a patent, but you do not use the patented invention in a product or service, you are still entitled to enforce your patent. You are known in the world of patents and patent enforcement as a "non-practicing entity" or "NPE" -- or more rudely put, a "patent troll." But did your patent come with a marketing degree or knowledge of manufacturing methods that would enable you to practice the patent? Despite what others may say or the names they may call you, once you own a patent, you absolutely, positively have the right to enforce it against infringement, whether or not you are using that patent to produce a product or service!

**UPDATE. Comment to IAM blog on May 11-->

Of the rhetorical question -- What else could the USPTO Director have said? --, the situation that Kappos faced in the House in May 2010 was quite foreseeable in March 2010. [See ] Within the IT industry, there is not much traction for the current form of S.515, as was evinced by the Coalition for Patent Fairness indicating it was worse than the present state of affairs. Kappos and Locke could have easily predicted where Lofgren was going to go, and Kappos could have said "yes, in the absence of the other proposed reforms, please end fee diversion so the USPTO at least has enough money to examine patent applications." Holding onto S.515 when key House members are not buying in does not advance the interests of patent office customers, who are really suffering. Symbolically, the strategy of the USPTO officials should be rejected under KSR for failing to recognize the obvious.

**Journal article reproduced in Columbia, Missouri

On fee diversion, see article by Marla Grossman.

See also

PATENT REFORM BEING UNDERMINED BY HOUSE EFFORTS? [ a vocal contingent of House members appear unsatisfied with the recent momentum of the manager’s amendment to S.515. ]


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