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Patents United States Government Politics

Patent Reform Bill Approved by House Committee 95

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the long-time-coming dept.
Alex Forster pointed us to this PC World story that opens, "The House Committee on the Judiciary approved far-reaching legislation to reform the nation's patent system Wednesday. The Patent Reform Act of 2007 largely reflects the IT sector's lobbying effort to curtail lengthy, expensive patent infringement lawsuits, but Wednesday's committee deliberations centered on finding compromises acceptable to opponents — namely the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, manufacturers, and large research universities — so that the bill could win approval. Committee Chairman John Conyers, D-Mich., described the current patent system as inefficient, bogged down by inappropriate litigation rules, unreliably funded, and resulting in patents of "questionable quality." The bill would make it harder to secure a patent and easier for rivals to challenge one, and it would change how courts determine an infringed patent's value."
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Patent Reform Bill Approved by House Committee

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  • ..would have been a better title. No real reform here. Just business as usual.
  • Re:"Far-reaching"? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pzs (857406) on Friday July 20, 2007 @06:53AM (#19925245)

    Real innovators don't even seek patents. 80% of VC-funded software firms don't claim patents within four years of being funded. The whole patent system is a fraud, a tax on the consumer, and a blight on high-tech industries. This bill just perpetuates the fraud a little longer.

    I totally agree with this. There is an Audi advert here in the UK where they claim that their new car is very innovative because during its production, they filed more patents than NASA did whilst developing the space shuttle. They fail to mention that NASA is government funded and focussed on progress and innovation, so they have much less interest in slapping a "this is mine" sticker on any half-idea they have and charging everybody to use it.

    This is actually related to this [slashdot.org] discussion. Number of research papers is not necessarily proportional to the quality of the research because (duh) somebody might publish one really amazing paper which contributes more than 15 crappy papers.

    It strikes me that the patent system is just another part of the corporate game playing exercise. People cynically patent anything as another revenue stream making a mockery of the purpose of protecting IP in the first place.

    Peter

  • by MyLongNickName (822545) on Friday July 20, 2007 @07:21AM (#19925417) Journal
    Care to cite examples? Or is this just a generally "I am cool because I am a skeptic" response?
  • Bullshit (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Black Parrot (19622) on Friday July 20, 2007 @07:25AM (#19925459)

    The bill would make it harder to secure a patent and easier for rivals to challenge one
    By the time it gets out of committee it will be just another gimmee for the biggest corporations.

  • by StressGuy (472374) on Friday July 20, 2007 @07:36AM (#19925539)
    I recently saw an add for a razor, you know, the kind you use to shave with. Not electric mind you, just a plain old shaving razor. The advertisement said that this particular "new and improved" razor had 20 more patents that the previous model.

    Seriously, how do you get 20+ patents out of a razor?

    I think the math pseudo-code works like this:

    IF [1 razor] >= [20 patents] THEN {ACTUAL-PATENT-VALUE} = {TRIVIAL}

    Yet, the value of an "infringed" patent can be hundereds of thousands of dollars in court (if not millions).

    Therefore, while I do believe the original idea of the patent was to protect honest innovation, it appears that all we are really doing these days is creating a litigation industry. The more patents you can attach to something, the greater the likelihood of generating additional revenue in court.

    I'm not opposed to the idea of a patent, but it seems to me that businesses are simply "gaming the system" here....or am I missing something?
  • Yeah, right (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dgun (1056422) on Friday July 20, 2007 @07:38AM (#19925551) Homepage

    There will be no real reform of the patent systems as long as congress is bought and paid for by campaign contributions.

    And real reform means eliminating all software patents. And that will never happen as long as:

    Microsoft Campaign Contributions: $8,907,025 (1999 - Present)

    And I'm sure there are many other companies in the industry that throw dollars at congress. Source [campaignmoney.com]

  • by dada21 (163177) <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Friday July 20, 2007 @08:12AM (#19925827) Homepage Journal
    I read the whole text of the bill at thomas.loc.gov today. It's long, drawn out, runs circles around itself, and really does nothing. You can tell that mercantilist businesses helped write it -- it will still make things worse.

    If you want to reform something, you don't do it with steps like this. You don't write new laws to amend old laws -- it leaves loopholes and gaps that you and I can not find, but that patent lawyers are aware of and can help manage through IF you can afford them. It makes it more difficult to defend yourself pro se in a trial where your "patents" are infringed upon.

    I'm anti-patent, of course, but I also would be happy to see a return to a Constitutional patent system. I have a recommendation for Congress to make the patent system more level:

    1. Pass a bill into law that scraps ALL previous laws, amended laws, and riders to laws that cover the patent system. Declare all of these in that very bill. This would mean the old laws were fully sunset and removed from power. I'd also include a complete firing and deconstruction of the USPTO along with it. Might as well kick those cronies to the curb.

    2. Work on a new bill that is easy to understand, and doesn't provide for loopholes. Have no exceptions.

    3. Produce a VERY limited amount of time for the power of the patent. 7 years sounds good.

    4. Develop a "previous art" website that is the first step to produce a new patent. Allow the average netizen to go and provide proof of prior art, at which point you can knock the patent out of the running. Provide for LARGE penalties for those who submit patents that are rejected.
  • Re:"Far-reaching"? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by QuantumG (50515) <qg@biodome.org> on Friday July 20, 2007 @08:21AM (#19925895) Homepage Journal
    Why does the US have such great laws in regards to copyright of works produced by government agencies and yet no similar laws for patents?

  • Approval from who? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by farker haiku (883529) on Friday July 20, 2007 @09:00AM (#19926327) Journal
    Wednesday's committee deliberations centered on finding compromises acceptable to opponents -- namely the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, manufacturers, and large research universities -- so that the bill could win approval.

    I wasn't aware that the biotech industries, manufacturers, and large research universities were the ones voting on it.
  • Re:Yeah, right (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mOdQuArK! (87332) on Friday July 20, 2007 @10:20AM (#19927267)
    One simple reform would make campaign finance reform a LOT easier: removing the idea from the legal system that corporations (or organizations) have the same sorts of rights as real people (specifically, free speech).
  • by TechForensics (944258) on Friday July 20, 2007 @11:03AM (#19928023) Homepage Journal
    Wednesday's committee deliberations centered on finding compromises acceptable to opponents -- namely the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, manufacturers, and large research universities Am I the only one who thinks how powerful interests have to be consulted (so they can stay powerful) before a bill passes is a pretty F****D-UP kind of democracy? It looks like whether we have communism or capitalism, if either system gets too hoary and entrenched the people get pwned.

It was kinda like stuffing the wrong card in a computer, when you're stickin' those artificial stimulants in your arm. -- Dion, noted computer scientist

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