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Patents United States

The U.S. Patent Backlog 195

Posted by samzenpus
from the we-will-be-with-you-shortly dept.
coondoggie writes "Even with its increased hiring estimates of 1,200 patent examiners each year for the next 5 years, the US Patent and Trademark Office patent application backlog is expected to increase to over 1.3 million at the end of fiscal year 2011 the Government Accounting Office reported today. The USPTO has also estimated that if it were able to hire 2,000 patent examiners per year in fiscal year 2007 and each of the next 5 years, the backlog would continue to increase by about 260,000 applications, to 953,643 at the end of fiscal year 2011, the GAO said. Despite its recent increases in hiring, the agency has acknowledged that it cannot hire its way out of the backlog and is now focused on slowing the growth of the backlog instead of reducing it. This too is but one of the goals of the Patent Reform Act currently making the rounds in the US Senate."
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The U.S. Patent Backlog

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  • Therefore (Score:5, Funny)

    by Dunbal (464142) on Thursday February 28, 2008 @12:03AM (#22583954)
    I hereby submit a patent to use computing and human resources technology to increase the speed of the patent process.

    Pay me, bitches.
  • What they told me (Score:5, Interesting)

    by john_is_war (310751) <jvines@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Thursday February 28, 2008 @12:07AM (#22583988)
    As a graduating computer engineer, I've been interviewing around, and USPTO was one of the places. Here's what they shared with me-
    They are currently backlogged 5 years.
    With their hiring surge of engineers, they want to bring the backlog to 2 years within 4 years IIRC
    And apparently they crap money, with a starting salary of 63k with a 10k starting bonus for the first 4 years, plus a 10% bonus if a 130% efficiency rating is maintained for the 4 quarters.
    The ones they are particularly hiring are EEs, CSs, and Comp Engs.

    Now you know, and remember- Knowledge is power!
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by soundhack (179543)
      I wonder how efficiency ratings are measured? If it's number of patents processed, then there is an incentive to rubber stamp applications (pass a lot, fail a lot, or come up with a semi-random scheme).

      Really though, with the years you've invested in your engineering degree would you want to go straight to a paper shuffling job right out of school?

      • Re:What they told me (Score:4, Informative)

        by john_is_war (310751) <jvines@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Thursday February 28, 2008 @12:38AM (#22584252)
        From my understanding, the first 6 months, you get 10 patents every week or biweek, unclear on that. Then after 6 months you start getting appeals back from rejected patents (6 months being the max time). And that point, the number of new patents expected is diminished. And of course all the paperwork needs extensive background research for prior art etc. etc.

        And as for that, it's not my main choice, but it's better than no job.
        • Read Patently Academic [patentlyacademic.com] if you want an in depth look at the training academy process. The blog goes into pretty extreme detail, at least for the initial couple months, about the standard academy progression. The pace of the training has changed somewhat since it's initial inception in early 2006, but the experiences of this fellow who started middle 2007 should be pretty standard these days.
      • by ls -la (937805)

        I wonder how efficiency ratings are measured? If it's number of patents processed, then there is an incentive to rubber stamp applications (pass a lot, fail a lot, or come up with a semi-random scheme).

        Really though, with the years you've invested in your engineering degree would you want to go straight to a paper shuffling job right out of school?

        IIRC, they're expected/required to process 5 applications a week (avg 8 hrs/app), probably averaged over some time frame, regardless of how long the application is. And yes, both your concerns are valid: because of the quota, there's no incentive to do a good job, just to do it quickly; and the people that would know the most about this are least likely to want to do it.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by mavenguy (126559)
        Production is measured in units called "balanced disposals" which is the average, over any period of measurment (bi-week, quarter, fiscal year) of the number of first actions on the merits (N) and the number of disposals (D, which are allowances, abandonments, or examiners answers on appeal). For each of the various art areas a historical expetancy X is assigned as so many hours per balanced disposal. the office wide expectancy for this is a bit over 20 hours per balanced disposal for a hypothetical GS-12 e
    • by ServerIrv (840609) on Thursday February 28, 2008 @12:41AM (#22584262)

      plus a 10% bonus if a 130% efficiency rating is maintained for the 4 quarters.

      There is a built in incentive for bad patents to get through. Patents get rubber stamped simply because of the need of efficiency to get out of the whole backlog mess. Instead of actually diligently checking and rechecking for prior art conflicting patents, the employee stamps it as good, as fast as possible, and walks away with their 10% bonus. This seems to be the same problem that tech support has with call tracking. The faster a person gets you off the phone, the more money they make, and the faster they get promoted.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 28, 2008 @02:23AM (#22584894)
        > There is a built in incentive for bad patents to get through.

        Looking at this job I am almost tempted to apply. The money is good even without the bonus. It would be interesting and varied work. And one would be in fine company, as Mr Einstein himself was once a patent clerk.

        But I would last all of 5 minutes before getting fired. The problem is as computer scientist and inventor and someone who knows the difference between an abstract idea and well thought out and unique implementation that solves original problems I would have to apply ethical standards to my work.

        Got a business patent? In the bin it goes.
        Got an existing idea you want to add the words "web browser" or "computer" to? In the bin.
        Only got mathematical algorithm? No language specific implementation? In the bin.
        You want to add a tiny specific modification to an existing idea? Sorry, in the the bin.
        Something that I can find published on Google with trivial searching? In the bin.

        Well, you might think my manager would be happy as a pig in shit, praising a wonderful worker who is clearing the backlog by rigorously applying the rules. Wouldn't you?

        Oh, but wait... Where does the patent office make its money? Approving patents.

        Which is why the rules were changed to allow all this crap through in the first place. There aren't suddenly more ideas in the world, the bar for patentability has been drastically lowered and the system is broken because of it.

        So, how about this for an idea. If he approves a patent that is subsequently challenged and voided the clerk loses twice their bonus and the patent office has to refund the application fee in full. And to make sure the applicant doesn't benefit from specious claims, they must pay a fine of 10 times the application fee to the government.

        Then let's see who is so quick with the rubber stamp.

        What is needed is incentive to find _good_ patents. To add this incentive, how about a royalty type bonus system. A clerk who approves a patent that runs its full term gets a small bonus at the end of its life, related to how much money it has actually made through the sale of real products (litigation payments would be excluded).

        • Re:What they told me (Score:5, Informative)

          by greenreaper (205818) on Thursday February 28, 2008 @03:36AM (#22585298) Homepage Journal
          The system gets paid for dealing with applications, not for approving them. If they aren't approved, they still keep the money. Same with trademarks.
          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by lareader (1191563)
            True, but having a high approval rating is why so many patents get sent in.

            If 99% of all patents got rejected, there would be less incentive to send them in.

            Currently fee * chance of getting application through amount of cash expected from patent, even for bad patents.
            If the quality the application had to be higher in order to get a reasonable chance of achieving a patent, there would be fewer bad patent applications... which would reduce the revenue.

            While your statement may be true in the short run, in th
        • But I would last all of 5 minutes before getting fired. The problem is as computer scientist and inventor and someone who knows the difference between an abstract idea and well thought out and unique implementation that solves original problems I would have to apply ethical standards to my work.

          Actually, I think you would do quite well at the patent office, or anywhere else in the Bush administration. You seem to think that an executive-branch bureaucrat (patent examiner) should be able to independently a

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mavenguy (126559)

      ...10% bonus if a 130% efficiency rating is maintained for the 4 quarters...

      If you enter as a GS-5 your production quota is 60% of the nominal GS-12(100%) production quota for the expectancy assigned to the docket that you will be working in (varies by art). By the time you make Primary Examiner (GS-14) you have to crank out 135% of the GS-12 expectancy. That's a factor of 2.25 more. In a recent GAO Report [gao.gov] recent hires who are leaving the PTO in droves cited "outdated production goals" as one of the leadi

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by N8F8 (4562)
      In DC 63K is like minimum wage elsewhere.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by charon69 (458608)
      Just a warning, my Ex worked in the USPTO after graduating in 2002 as a biomedical engineer.

      All I ever heard about that place was horror stories. There are quotas for how many patents you need to process per week. Managers regularly abuse those examiners who can't keep up. "Keeping up" requires approximately 10 to 20 hours of unpaid overtime per week.

      And it's all mind-numbingly repetitive work.

      This was a smart girl, 3.5+ GPA, never slacked off, and she couldn't handle it. If you decide to accept the offer,
  • I think examiners encourage the use of big words in a patent, not so that the patent is unique, but so they can claim ignorance when someone re-patents something in existence. If an investigation comes up then the patent examiner can claim ignorance. A lot of that techno-bable doesn't makes any sense to someone in the field.
  • Yes, I know. (Score:2, Informative)

    by Animats (122034)

    I have an application 12 months into a 30 month queue. In a fast-moving field, this is a huge headache. My previous patents only took about a year to get to first office action.

    There's a new express program, though. If you file no more than three claims, file online, and do a more diligent search, the USPTO promises to process the patent in less than a year. That was just starting when I filed, and I didn't take that option.

  • by DigiShaman (671371) on Thursday February 28, 2008 @12:19AM (#22584094) Homepage
    "Just rubber stamp it. The judicial branch will sort it out for us."

    Is that what it's going to come down too?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by vtscott (1089271)
      I hope not. I would imagine that it's much cheaper to just have a competent patent examiner with enough time to do his/her research reject a patent than it is to get the courts involved.
      • by qbzzt (11136)
        I would imagine that it's much cheaper to just have a competent patent examiner with enough time to do his/her research reject a patent than it is to get the courts involved.

        Cheaper for whom? The government pays the patent examiner. The patent holder and the patent challenger pay the costs of litigation.
    • by ls -la (937805) on Thursday February 28, 2008 @02:10AM (#22584796) Journal

      "Just rubber stamp it. The judicial branch will sort it out for us."

      Is that what it's going to come down too[sic]?
      Unfortunately, yes. Since job performance is entirely based on number of applications processed, the examiners have very little incentive to do a good job, so unless they have a clear reason to reject an application in the first 5-10 pages, they'll likely just grant it. The problem then REALLY comes when the judicial branch says, "the patent office granted it, so if it's not patentable they can sort it out," which is what they have been doing for some time now. That's part of the reason it's so difficult to get a patent overturned: both branches say the other should do it.
  • Obvious Jobs Program (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Thursday February 28, 2008 @12:22AM (#22584116) Homepage Journal
    It seems to me that the demand for patent examiners and the explosion of patent applications and money derived from them should add up to a lot bigger hire than just a few thousand more examiners. The PTO should charge an annual fee on patents that's a tiny percent of the revenue from their applications or licensing, which if enough to pay for enough examiners should still be under 1% of income under the patents. Then the amount of examiners will keep pace with the growth in the patents they have to examine.

    In fact, the growth in patents and their revenue should even stimulate the production of American engineers. Offer full scholarships to engineers, funded by those fees, in exchange for them becoming paid examiners for a couple-few years at least, and returning for at least 6 months every 5-10 years for a couple-few decades. If they break that deal, they owe 2x their scholarship immediately, which can pay for more scholarships and paid examiners.

    The patent system has many problems. Primary is that the American people subsidize the creation of intellectual property by paying for the expensive examination and challenge system, which we can ill afford with our current budget problems (and which was never fair to the public, anyway). Also too few examiners of too little quality and commitment. Calibrating a fee to hire examiners and create them by scholarship to the volume of applications should make the system more self-regulating. And good for engineers: Albert Einstein had most of his good ideas working in the Swiss patent office, which no doubt benefited from his talent and imagination. Let's see America protect both itself and its inventors with a simple device that balances both.

    You may consider this design to be placed in the public domain :).
    • by djupedal (584558)
      "Offer full scholarships to engineers, funded by those fees..."

      I was with you up, to this point, sorry.

      1.) Not all patents are submitted by domestic entities.
      2.) The trend in America towards a service industry, like the patent system issue, is not a new development - fresh engineers will come in lesser numbers, not more.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Doc Ruby (173196)
        So what if patents are submitted by non-domestic entities? If they want their patents to stay registered in the US, they'll pay the fees, just like they pay the fees for registration.

        Engineers are part of a service industry. They don't actually manufacture anything, they're info workers. Fresh engineers will come in greater numbers when their education budget is less risky from both scholarships and more jobs when they graduate.
    • The patent system has many problems. Primary is that the American people subsidize the creation of intellectual property by paying for the expensive examination and challenge system, which we can ill afford with our current budget problems (and which was never fair to the public, anyway)

      You clearly have no idea about what you are talking about. The Patent Office is the only agency that makes money (patent applicants pay more money in fees than it costs to run the Patent Office) so the people are not subs

      • by Doc Ruby (173196)
        No, you clearly have no idea how to read. Or maybe just no concept that most patent analysis work is done in courts, especially in appeals courts, all of which operation is paid by taxpayers. Even the privately funded lawyers arguing in those courts are subsidized by the many services the lawyers consume in arguing their cases in those courts.

        The main reason those court cases are so many and so long is that the PTO isn't vetting nearly enough bad patents at application time. My system would help defray thos
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by monxrtr (1105563)
      Pay the public for discovering errors. Mandate that all patent applications be posted for public review. Any discovery of prior art should be the *burden* of those submitting patent applications. Double or triple the patent applications fees. Mandate a $10,000 penalty (which must be deposited with the application fee) to be paid by all applicants who submit patent applications containing prior art or too obvious an idea that is forfeited if their application is rejected for any reason. This $10,000 is up fo
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Doc Ruby (173196)
        Well, the problem is that increasing the filing fee will lock out small-scale inventors, who often produce quite a lot of the innovation, and who need patent protection a lot more than do the big, rich inventors who could also afford to market the invention before a competitor competes with them even without patent protection.

        In fact, patent filing should be free, but would need at least a nominal fee to deter people from applying at ridiculous rates. Remember that the patent is supposed to protect an inven
        • by roju (193642)
          I wouldn't tie it to revenue, that's too hard to account for. Just use a predefined scale.

          $1 for the first year
          $10 for the second year
          $100 for the third year
          $1,000 for the fourth year
          $10,000 for the fifth year
          $100,000 for the sixth year
          $1,000,000 for the seventh, and final year

          If the smalltime inventor hasn't sold the patent or started to make money by the fifth year, he is never going to and doesn't deserve to block other people out of the market. Plus, the scaling rate means that only directly profitabl
          • by Doc Ruby (173196)
            Why is revenue too hard to account for? They have to report it on their taxes, or face income tax fraud in addition to whatever patent fraud.

            There's not going to be a fair fee on that kind of scale. If I patent something that cost me $20,000 to invent, and $20,000 a year to market, but "advanced science or the useful arts" so much that it took that investment just to finally sell $30,000 worth in the fifth year, then that $10,000 is going to make it a lot harder to get my return. Any amount that's just a fi
            • The problem is how do you measure the income from an individual patent? Some products are covered by a wide range of patents, not always owned by the producer of the product. A cell phone, for example, will have multiple patents on not only the hardware, but also the software. That's just a cell phone. Try figuring out how to measure the income for each patent that is covered by a car or a chip fab.

              It sounds like a job program for accountants.
  • Solutions? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    How about regional processing centers around the county (if they really are paying engineers 65K/year that goes along way in the midwest but not far in DC area). I would be happy to process patents in my technical field from home, with the proper training and tools prior art and patent serching. Let the academics, engineers, comptuer sci/e people get trained and process patentent part time from home!
  • by Venik (915777) on Thursday February 28, 2008 @12:34AM (#22584224)
    I think in this difficult time for our government all patriotic Americans should refrain from inventing stuff for the next five years.
  • by RingDev (879105) on Thursday February 28, 2008 @12:45AM (#22584298) Homepage Journal
    Honestly, taking any existing patent and tossing it on the internet should be tossed immediately as obvious.

    Knock out software patents, and patents on processes, and blamo! problem solved.

    -Rick
    • by penix1 (722987) on Thursday February 28, 2008 @01:01AM (#22584396) Homepage
      Far easier...

      Deny any patent with the words, "A method to..."

      Problem solved. I bet the backlog drops by at least 3/4 what it is today.
      • by russotto (537200)

        Deny any patent with the words, "A method to..."

        Problem solved. I bet the backlog drops by at least 3/4 what it is today.


        Sure. But you'd throw out a lot of legitimate patents. A patent covering e.g. "A method to produce chemical X..." which goes on to specify the method (not one which uses that verbiage to cover all methods, as do many bad patents) is not a bad patent, unless you're opposed to all patents.
        • Deny any patent with the words, "A method to..."

          Problem solved. I bet the backlog drops by at least 3/4 what it is today.

          Sure. But you'd throw out a lot of legitimate patents. A patent covering e.g. "A method to produce chemical X..." which goes on to specify the method (not one which uses that verbiage to cover all methods, as do many bad patents) is not a bad patent, unless you're opposed to all patents.

          It is plausible to say that a sequence of instructions is not an invention. What makes "a metho

  • Wow (Score:2, Funny)

    They actually *read* patent applications?!?
  • by Layth (1090489)
    I have filed a few patents before.. so I know how much their pinch hurts in the wallet.
    What we basically have here is a governmental cash cow.

    I want this sort of problem with my side business. Too many customers to deal with!?

    If they start outsourcing to india, this kind of surplus could generate more revenue than oil.
    If anything I think they should be trying to INCREASE the growth of patent submissions, to better provide for the future generation of america.

    If you think of the children, it becomes obvio
    • by clickety6 (141178) on Thursday February 28, 2008 @05:56AM (#22586020)
      If they start outsourcing to india, this kind of surplus could generate more revenue than oil.

      If they start outsourcing to India, we'd probably see a lot of new inventions coming out of India ;-)
    • by Asic Eng (193332)
      Outsourcing to India may have benefits for companies, but is typically not ideal for governments. All the money they spend for employees in their own country stays in the country. With the money the employees get they buy cars and houses, eat in restaurants etc - all this fuels the local economy and provides return in taxes. Money which goes outside of the country boosts another countries economy. The benefit from outsourcing would need to be very large to compensate for that.
  • ....software patents and business methods. Which neither are of such qualities required of patents.

    they are probably underestimating the backlog
  • To me, maths dictates that if the patent office hired 12,000 examiners this year and did so for the next 5 years, the problem described would begin to decrease at year 3 and disappear at year 5. That would be an achievement by US standards. Why don't these officials just do this grade 9 math?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by ls -la (937805)

      To me, maths dictates that if the patent office hired 12,000 examiners this year and did so for the next 5 years, the problem described would begin to decrease at year 3 and disappear at year 5. That would be an achievement by US standards. Why don't these officials just do this grade 9 math?

      That would cost them more money. People are still going to apply for patents no matter how long it takes, so they really aren't losing much (financially) by keeping the backlog, whereas it would cost them ~600-700k/yr in salary to do what you suggest to kill the backlog.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mdfst13 (664665)
      That would require the patent office to be able to find 12,000 people in the US each year that want to be patent examiners.

      I still think that the solution is to eliminate the idea of patents being "granted" after a review by the patent office. Instead they should change to a system where patent applications are recorded and only reviewed when someone tries to enforce the patent. At that time, the defendant can be responsible for doing the prior art search and the patent office only needs to be responsible
  • by the cheong (1053282) on Thursday February 28, 2008 @01:30AM (#22584576)
    i must be a n00b in the patent process, because i don't understand why we need people to review patents in the first place. why don't we simply publish every patent on some online database, and review patents _only if_ disputes arise? if someone wants to patent something, then he must sift through the patent records _himself_ and make sure he's not infringing on anyone's rights. if a dispute (i.e. lawsuit) should ever be filed, _then_ we check the patent records to verify and take the appropriate course of action. with this system, people who want to patent things will be a lot more careful about their research on prior patents, no? maybe they'll even contact people with similar patents and clear everything up so that no disputes arise in the future? and the cost to the USPTO is simply publishing all the patents online and checking over disputed patents?
  • Fine a submitter for filing a frivolous patent, or patent squatting. Betcha that backlog clears out overnight. But in the meantime, I want to patent a method of diffusing particles across a semi-permeable membrane and then sue people for breathing. brb.
  • by Derling Whirvish (636322) on Thursday February 28, 2008 @02:41AM (#22584996) Journal
    There is a simple solution to the problem of too many patents to examine. Go back to requiring a working prototype. You would have to supply working source code for any software patent. Business "methods" patents would not be acceptable unless you could demonstrate the method actually in use.

    So Arthur C. Clarke would not have been able to patent the idea of geostationary satellites. He didn't so nothing was lost. Were current patent procedures in place in the late 40s, most certainly a patent troll would have patented it. But what harm is there in forcing comeone to actually get a satellite to geostationary orbit before allowing a patent? It would certainly encourage research and development rather than litigation and argument. Forcing Edison to actually get a filament that worked before granting him a patent on the light bulb worked out for the better, rather than allowing him to patent the "idea" of using an electrically heated filament to generate light. If he had gotten the patent without the working model he could have sat back and just sued anyone implementing electic lights for the next 17 years. It would have set back progress tremendously.
  • Everyone should tag this karma. Cause and effect at its very best.
  • I mean, if anyone and his neighbor's dog can file a patent about practically anything, how would anyone expect that the paperwork involved in dealing with the sh*tloads of useless crap would descrease ? Only one solution I'd see working would be a stricter and saner regularization of the patent submission process, not to increase the processing of the submitted crap, but to decrease the number of submissions that are potentially junk from the beginning but they still have to wate insane amount of hours and
  • by pokerdad (1124121) on Thursday February 28, 2008 @07:38AM (#22586482)

    Step 1: Hire more patent officers.

    Step 2: Raise the price of applying to meet costs of #1.

    Step 3: Once backlog is clear create stricter application process.

    Step 4: Based on number of man hours required for new process introduced in 3, raise prices again.

    Step 5: Review demand now that it costs more and is less likely to success; adust staffing to meet new demand.

  • ...in a light bulb?

    Hmmmm, I don't think they know how to do that, no matter how many.

    They seems to persist with in the darkness of believing software and business methods are of patent-able subject matter.
    • i think you have examiners confused with the court system.

      The examining corp, nor the office itself ever allowed software patents, rather it was a court decision

      see State Street Bank & Trust Company v. Signature Financial Group, Inc., 149 F.3d 1368 (Fed. Cir. 1998), 47 USPQ2d 1596
  • 1. Preprocess - outsource this process to eliminate frivilous and easy to eliminate claims. Speed up the next two steps.

    2. Process the patent applications.

    3. Validate - check, verify, grant.
  • Let me make this clear. Patents are a good concept but poorly implemented. They are NOT doing what they were intended to do. When you attack a problem why are so many of you attacking the end result (backlog, frivilous patents etc) instead of attacking the root of the problem, the requirements for a patent. Lets explore the main types of patents Tangible Non-Tangible You don't get more general than that. Tangible is a patent on something that you can touch feel, the other is business processes etc. Non
  • by MichailS (923773) on Thursday February 28, 2008 @09:40AM (#22587204)
    I have a suggestion: how about scrapping the current concept of patents, and instead award time-limited exclusive rights to entities that SHOW A PRODUCT USING THE COVETED TECHNOLOGY instead of just filing a paper?

    I never managed to wrap my head around the fact that I can own the rights to almost anything - as long as nobody else did it first - by just having to file for an application to verify this and pay for the process.

    In the next step somebody writes the application as vaguely as possible to give away as little information as possible while trying to grab as much as possible. Then someone will stare incredulously at my application with a stamp twitching in the hand, while tics cause their cheek to spasm. One second and an exaperated curse at the incomprehensible text later, WHAM, I am awarded a billion dollar paper that says I own something I may have never conceived, touched or even spent many minutes pondering about.

    Show me an invention that isn't obvious to the expert! They exist, of course - in abundance - yet probably make up for a microscopic fraction of all the patents. But most of the time evolution and developemnt stand on the shoulders of giants and your expert peers will say "Yeah, I thought about that years ago, I just never made anything about it" about your inventions.

    Thus, just procuring an idea on paper should not be enough to get a patent. You should also be able to demonstrate that you are actually UTILIZING the concept!
  • See subject.

    Also, require a prototype within a reasonable amount of time, or no patent. It takes no real resources to draw a picture and write a description. The patent itself should not be the product that you profit from. If you have no intention of creating anything with your patent (or helping others to create with it), then you have no business having the damned thing.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Shados (741919)
      It must be great to live in such a simple world :)

      Really though. If you have a bunch of people who discover a process in a lab to, let say, make a type of semi-conductor that would allow processors to be 10 times faster...well, you may not exactly have the facilities to make CPUs... so the only people allowed to research them (and make money from it) is Intel, AMD and co?

      Man you must love your large corporations!
  • From someone on the inside I can tell you that this is not a simple issue. As noted, applications and inventions get more complicated, the search for pertinent prior art gets wider and the amount of time we have to do the work gets shorter. In theory they can hire many new examiners... but we are faced with a huge space crunch here as well. Brand new campus and there is limited room/offices for all these new examiners to work. They would like everyone to hotel... which means work from home. But the problem
  • While motivation to innovate was needed a few hundred years ago, it's currently not needed anymore. It currently only serves large companies and people who want to control the market (the owners of those large companies).

    When it was needed, the world was (mostly) governed by aristocracy. The aristocrats basically cared about one thing: power. So they needed an incentive to create something which they could monopolize (so they have absolute power over it). Enter the patent system. All of a sudden those arist
  • Simple Fix 1, 2, 3 (Score:3, Interesting)

    by EQ (28372) on Friday February 29, 2008 @02:34AM (#22597584) Homepage Journal
    1. Pass legislation reversing the court the ruling that allows for business process patents. These constitute a huge number of the pending patents I bet - and have been the basis for most so-called software patents.

    2. Specify that neither business methods nor software can be patented.

    3. Invalidate ALL standing patents that were issued under the previous rule.

    That simple.

Mathemeticians stand on each other's shoulders while computer scientists stand on each other's toes. -- Richard Hamming

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