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Government Patents United States

US House Takes Up Major Overhaul of Patent System 205

Posted by samzenpus
from the cleaning-things-up dept.
Bookworm09 writes "The House took up the most far-reaching overhaul of the patent system in 60 years today, with a bill both parties say will make it easier for inventors to get their innovations to market and help put people back to work. Backed by Obama and business groups, the legislation aims to ease the lengthy backlog in patent applications, clean up some of the procedures that can lead to costly litigation and put the United States under the same filing system as the rest of the industrialized world."
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US House Takes Up Major Overhaul of Patent System

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  • I'm sure this will work out well for small businesses.
    • by Rei (128717) on Wednesday June 22, 2011 @05:04PM (#36534800) Homepage

      As a small business owner myself, the funding changes will. The huge costs and absurd backlogs are easily handled by big businesses with their own legal departments and deep pockets for building up patent thickets and getting their patents expedited, but it's much harder for the small fish to get a piece.

      To benefit small business owners versus big business owners, you need:
        * Lower filing/defense costs
        * Shorter backlogs
        * Greater tolerance for filing errors (a big established company is less likely to make them)
        * Stricter standards for review when it comes to originality, prior art, etc (as a general rule, small businesses thrive on radical changes, while big businesses thrive on incremental changes)

      However, there are some things in there that they're proposing which will absolutely not help small businesses: switching from "first to invent" to "first to file", for one. Again, the deep pockets and legal departments of large corporations make getting "first to file" much easier for them. They're also getting rid of the one-year grace period after disclosure which, yeah, while it brings us into sync with the rest of the world, but was always a huge boon to small inventors (it really ought to be *longer*). The grace period gives you time to shop your idea around, determine whether there's a good business opportunity, raise investment, etc, and *then* file.

      • by geekoid (135745)

        Switching to first to file will destroy any hope left tot he small inventor. Big business wants to do that because then they can easily just steal something you made but could afford to do a patent search ye.

        It's horrible, it's counter, and it's harmful. Shut this down.

        Right now, I can(and have) show proof that I had an invention first without a patent. It's not as good, and you need to do it right, but a court will recognize other evidence. With this, you are simply screwed.

        The only way this could be good

        • On top of that... (Score:4, Informative)

          by gr8_phk (621180) on Wednesday June 22, 2011 @06:30PM (#36535818)
          From TFA:

          The PTO says it costs $400,000-$500,000 to pursue an interference proceeding, claiming the right to a patent based on an earlier invention.

          That sounds like a savings, but the reality is that the change means you're just FUCKED. Now, if you find you're infringing a patent you can spend 400 to 500K and show that you invented it first and you are not infringing (other may be, but not you). After this, the option to defend yourself WILL BE GONE. Because some company patents something you're already doing, you will be barred from doing it. period. end of story. Because they filed first.

          I find it odd that the US considers itself to be a leader in innovation, but we need to change our system to match the rest of the world...

      • First to file (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) on Wednesday June 22, 2011 @06:38PM (#36535880)

        From the summary: "and put the United States under the same filing system as the rest of the industrialized world."

        Parent is right. This will absolutely help big businesses at the expense of small inventors and companies. The United States is perhaps unique in the world in caring about who invented a thing first, rather than who filed a thing first, and in caring somewhat about the individual inventor. Despite all of the clamor about it, there are maybe a hundred interference proceedings (i.e. who invented it first) a year--they're VERY rare. Companies and academia are just afraid of them because they (1) require a lot more auditing internally, (2) are a little less administrable than a first-to-file system, (3) are not what everyone else in the world does, and a lot of patent work is international, (4) sometimes a patent is worth billions, and secret prior art is in theory a massive risk, and (5) litigating the point costs money and lots of legal and inventor time when it comes up.

        That being said, these reforms are proposed every year. They very rarely get passed. The first-to-file reform has been "likely to change this year" for twenty or thirty years at this point.

        The patent system is already nontrivial to deal with for a newcomer, taking years, being very precise and arcane, and costing thousands unless you do everything yourself--and most people who try to do it themselves fail miserably. A patent examiner I know has seen *one* pro se application that was done well. The money is pocket change for a big corporation (maybe more if litigated or if it's an important of complicated patent), reasonable fees but ridiculous delays for a little corporation, doable for the upper middle class when you're not in the middle of an economic recession, and practically prohibitive for a small inventor who is lower middle-class or poor (without backers, anyway, and disclosing it to backers beforehand starts all kinds of legal clocks). The system encourages some innovation, but it doesn't do much about bootstrapping.

      • However, there are some things in there that they're proposing which will absolutely not help small businesses: switching from "first to invent" to "first to file", for one. Again, the deep pockets and legal departments of large corporations make getting "first to file" much easier for them. They're also getting rid of the one-year grace period after disclosure which, yeah, while it brings us into sync with the rest of the world, but was always a huge boon to small inventors (it really ought to be *longer*). The grace period gives you time to shop your idea around, determine whether there's a good business opportunity, raise investment, etc, and *then* file.

        I'm sympathetic to small and local business but I'm having a hard time seeing this change as disastrous. It seems that there is only a problem with the second to invent being the first to file if the actual first to invent is trying to continue working in secret. Postponing filing and working in secret seems to be a ***gamble*** to maximize the time a product on the market has under patent protection. Turning an invention into a marketable product, acquiring investors/funding, etc can take some time but the

      • by eddeye (85134)
        -1 factually incorrect. The one year grace period to file is not going away. What does go away is the one year grace period over someone else's prior art. But why should that exist in the first place? You still have a year to file over your own prior "art" (use, sale, etc).

        In practice, few use the grace period anyway because you lose all rights in foreign countries (which mostly don't have grace periods). So anyone even thinking about foreign markets files before any public use.

        IAAPA (patent attorney)

      • I agree on both of those points. I argued a while ago that the "first to file" system unfairly favors bigger businesses. And who cares whether eliminating the grace period puts us "in sync" with "the rest of the world", when having the grace period made for a better system?

        Despite all the goody-goody wording, I think this is more a corporate welfare bill than anything else, to the detriment of the solo inventor or small business.
    • by gad_zuki! (70830)

      Its a bi-partisan bill which both parties have quite a bit of input into and the reform process has been going on for six years, you know when the GOP and Bush ruled. I think its hilarious that you think that if it was a GOP only bill, it would be all unicorns and sunshine for small business.

      • I'm not really sure where you get the impression of what I would think if this were a GOP only bill. Bipartisan usually means twice as bad.
  • Yeah, but... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Penguinisto (415985) on Wednesday June 22, 2011 @04:36PM (#36534418) Journal

    ...can we *please* kill off software patents while we're at it?

    (I know, too much to ask, etc. Knowing Congress, they'll just make it all that much easier for patent trolls and big corps to plow through even the silliest patents now.)

    • Re:Yeah, but... (Score:5, Informative)

      by WrongSizeGlass (838941) on Wednesday June 22, 2011 @04:50PM (#36534602)

      (I know, too much to ask, etc. Knowing Congress, they'll just make it all that much easier for patent trolls and big corps to plow through even the silliest patents now.)

      New patent process for large businesses:
      Patent Clerk: OK, let's get started. Is your company valued at over $1 billion?
      Applicant: No, not yet. We're hoping this patent will help us get there.
      Patent Clerk: I'm sorry, please come back when you're large enough to matter. Next!

      Patent Clerk: OK, let's get started. Is your company valued at over $1 billion?
      Applicant: Yes, of course.
      Patent Clerk: Excellent. All right then, have you checked for prior art on this application?
      Applicant: Yes, of course.
      Patent Clerk: And did you find any prior art?
      Applicant: Of course not.
      Patent Clerk: Good. Did you really invent this?
      Applicant: Yes, of course.
      Patent Clerk: OK. Anything else I should know about this application?
      Applicant: Of course not.
      Patent Clerk: Piny swear?
      Applicant: Piny swear.
      Patent Clerk: Great - application granted! Anything else I can help you with today?
      Applicant: Do you happen to know the name of that guy who was in line ahead of me? I think he's violating my new patent.

    • by Rei (128717)

      Software patents have been slowly dying for years; most people at Slashdot seem to not have noticed. Nowadays, it's very hard to get a patent on an algorithm. If you want to get a "software" patent nowadays, you have to be really roundabout and portray your software more as linkages between different human and hardware elements. And the software aspects will be the most vulnerable to being struck down.

      Patenting something like the GIF encoding algorithm nowadays would be extremely difficult.

    • by icebike (68054)

      You are exactly right, I'm afraid.
      Its far more extensive than just software patents. And the solution will probably make it worse for everyone.

      The problem isn't that patents took too long to get.
      The problem is that they are too easy to get when prior art is readily available,
      and once granted, you have to pull teeth to get them voided even when art is found.

      Used to be that you had to produce a some kind of a model, working or not. Now all you have to do is describe something
      in the most vaguest of terms, an

    • Congressmen are afraid to kill off software patents entirely, and I don't blame them. It could wreak havoc on Silicon Valley and fubar the U.S. economy. And, knowing the way U.S. news media outlets react to economic downturns, it would result in a ton of bad PR for the politicians, which would likely hurt their chances at being re-elected, which would mean that these life-long politicians are either out of a job or demoted by more than a few rungs.

      The problem isn't software patents anymore. The problem is w

      • by s73v3r (963317)

        Congressmen are afraid to kill off software patents entirely, and I don't blame them. It could wreak havoc on Silicon Valley and fubar the U.S. economy

        How? By making it harder for trolls to get extortion money they don't deserve in the least?

      • It could wreak havoc on Silicon Valley and fubar the U.S. economy

        Name one company in the USA that brings a significant amount of money into the country by licensing software patents.

  • This is not good. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gfxguy (98788) on Wednesday June 22, 2011 @04:39PM (#36534456)

    Being like the rest of the world is a nice mantra that people keep throwing around, but most of the rest of the world simplified the system by having a "first to file" system, meaning someone could steal your invention and file first, and you'd have NO recourse. If that's the way to reduce litigation, then I'm not all for it.

    I'm not going to claim the U.S. is the best at everything, but just because the rest of the world does something doesn't make it better.

    First to file is NOT BETTER than first to invent.

    • by jd (1658)

      True, but no country does "first to invent", and the US often doesn't bother much with "first to (anything)".

      • True, but no country does "first to invent"

        Really though, does it matter what other countries are doing?

    • Mod parent up (Score:3, Insightful)

      by count0 (28810)

      All those conversations about "prior art" that we love to throw around here? Whooosh....all gone. Prior art only matters in "first to invent" instead of first to file.

      • Re:Mod parent up (Score:5, Informative)

        by AliasMarlowe (1042386) on Wednesday June 22, 2011 @05:01PM (#36534758) Journal

        All those conversations about "prior art" that we love to throw around here? Whooosh....all gone. Prior art only matters in "first to invent" instead of first to file.

        Get a clue. Prior art is relevant to "first to file" as well as "first to invent". You cannot invent something which already exists, so prior art is an absolute obstacle in either case. The difference between first to file and first to invent is that it's much easier to determine who was first to file. For first to invent, it's necessary to examine the evidence of invention (lab notebooks, internal emails, notes of discussions, etc.).

        • by geekoid (135745)

          NO, it's not.

          It will be harder to prove you had something, and it doesn't matter, under the new rules, if it's not patented and you get there first, you own the patent.

          OMG, first to invent could be HARD, so lets just forget it and screw people over for the sake of 'easy'.

          Fuck that.

          • Prior art is relevant to "first to file" as well as "first to invent". You cannot invent something which already exists, so prior art is an absolute obstacle in either case.

            It will be harder to prove you had something, and it doesn't matter, under the new rules, if it's not patented and you get there first, you own the patent.

            I don't think you are fully understanding the GP's argument. There are three things:
            1. First to market. (prior art)
            2. First to invent.
            3. First to file.

            It seems the GP is arguing that if one person goes to market first then some other person's patent application fails due to prior art. You seem to be focused on the inventor working in secret who is first to invent but not to file, which is only one of various scenarios. Secondly, in this working in secret scenario the inventor ***gambled*** and put off

        • Get a clue. Prior art is relevant to "first to file" as well as "first to invent". You cannot invent something which already exists, so prior art is an absolute obstacle in either case. The difference between first to file and first to invent is that it's much easier to determine who was first to file. For first to invent, it's necessary to examine the evidence of invention (lab notebooks, internal emails, notes of discussions, etc.).

          You put out a product. Someone else gets a patent on some feature (poss

          • Let me try to explain:
            • X creates a product with some new feature, but does NOT patent it.
            • Later on, Y invents the same feature independently and patents it.

            Under both systems, old and new, if Y tries to enforce their patent, it will be invalidated by X's feature. Once, Y's patent is invalidated, anyone can use that feature including X. This is the situation you described and it would not matter which system was used.

            The problems raised with new patent system arises in the following case:

            • X creates a produ
        • Prior art is relevant to "first to file" as well as "first to invent". You cannot invent something which already exists, so prior art is an absolute obstacle in either case.

          That is, indeed, an argument against "first to file" entirely, since if you can't invent something which already exists (which I agree is true), then the only inventor is the "first to invent", and the "first to file", if they aren't first to invent as well, isn't an inventor at all, and thus there is no rational basis for granting them

    • by maroberts (15852)

      Due to the wording of the Constitution, I can definitely see this law being challenged in the Supreme Court Real Soon Now

    • by Rei (128717)

      There's lots of things about the global system which suck, unfortunately. Here's the worst for a small business: You have to file for a patent in every market you want to sell in. There's the PCT patents ("international"), but they don't really protect you; they basically just extend the deadline until you need to file in individual countries. Going international with a patent can easily cost over $100k. That's not much for a company like Microsoft, but for a small business, it can be a killer.

    • by Artagel (114272)
      No, there will still be "derivation" proceedings for when the invention originated from another. So "first inventor to file" means that the first person to independently develop the invention who files for it wins.
    • by gad_zuki! (70830)

      Prior art still is defense and this new bill also includes pre-trial arbitration as part of settling disputes.

      All the 'first to file" thing does is end the lawsuits that aren't prior art, but are more about arguing who invented it first, not invalidating the patent via prior use.

      I'm sure groklaw will have an article about this tomorrow explaining the pros and cons, but it looks like there are more pros than cons here. The GOP still doesnt want the patent office paying for its operations with its own fees s

    • First to file is NOT BETTER than first to invent.

      Do we have to go through this every time? First to invent completely destroys the point of the patent system, which is to encourage disclosure of inventions.

      With first to file, if you sit on an invention and don't file the patent, you can't get a patent. If someone else independently invents it and tries to patent it, then you simply show prior art and neither gets the patent. If you actually want the patent, then you must disclose your invention.

      With first to invent, the best strategy is to sit on

      • With first to file, if you sit on an invention and don't file the patent, you can't get a patent.

        That's actually true with first to invent if you simply adopt a maximum time limit between invention and patent filing. (Even better would be to also set the maximum duration of the patent from the date of invention, with protection only running from the date of grant.)

        If someone else independently invents it and tries to patent it, then you simply show prior art and neither gets the patent.

        Wrong; with first to

    • by bidule (173941)

      Being like the rest of the world is a nice mantra that people keep throwing around, but most of the rest of the world simplified the system by having a "first to file" system, meaning someone could steal your invention and file first, and you'd have NO recourse.

      Yes, yes. Because people never go to court over breach of NDA or any other case where fraud is involved.

    • It is better because it's easier to determine. Now, there will never be another court case to see who invented the thing first, because we will have the record of who filed first.

      In theory, first to invent is better, but in practice, it could end up at a jury trial, decided by whose lawyer is most expensive, not by who actually invented it first.
  • Moves from 'first-to-invent' to 'first-inventor-to-file', and the US Patent Trade Office FINALLY gets to keep the fees it collects. The bit about fees is a no-brainer in my book (perhaps if they kept the money, they could employ more folks to look over patent applications), but I'm not so sure about a 'first-to-file' system.
    • Re:tl; dr version (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Jim Buzbee (517) on Wednesday June 22, 2011 @05:04PM (#36534806) Homepage

      The US Patent Trade Office FINALLY gets to keep the fees it collects..

      Sounds like a disaster in-making to me. What if the Sheriff's office got to keep all the funds that it confiscated? No doubt there'd be a lot more arrests and confiscated funds. Same with the patent office. The Patent office will just issue more and more and more patents as it's now in their best interest. "Come one, come all, file your patents, On sale this week only!"

      • My point is that right now, they collect a fee for reviewing a given application, presumably for the time the reviewer takes to do his job. Right now, that fee doesn't really go back into the patent office, it flies off somewhere else in the federal budget. Wouldn't it make sense to bolster their budget so that they can hire some more folks to get rid of the epic backlog that the patent office has? They don't have the budget to keep up.

        "Currently those fees go to the general Treasury fund, and Congress

        • by Jim Buzbee (517)

          Seems like the PTO might operate better if they had the budget to pay for their operations costs

          Maybe. But the cynical economist in me sees danger. Bureaucracies, just like people, will act in their own best interest. if the Patent office becomes funded by their customers (the patent filers), then the Patent office has every incentive to make those customers happy so they'll come back for more, pay more fees and increase the budget of the Patent office. If the Patent office cracks down on weak or overly-broad patents, then their customers will be discouraged from filing more patents, and the Patent of

      • by Daetrin (576516)
        Wait, you mean that if you file for a patent and they reject it that they also refund the filing fee? I know very little about the patent process but that sounds unbelievably generous for, well, any government or corporate office anywhere!
        • I don't know about that, but what my point is that I think it's a good thing that the fee collected by the patent office is actually used by the patent office as opposed to supporting some other god-forsaken government program.
          • by Daetrin (576516)
            I don't disagree with that at all. I'm just confused by the conclusion of the person i responded to, that getting to keep the fees would provide an incentive to the patent office to _issue_ more patents. I can't see how that would work unless the patent office currently has to return the filing fee if the patent isn't approved. Otherwise, if one were to ascribe nefarious purposes to the patent office, it would make more sense for them to encourage everyone to file more patents, but then to reject them all a
        • by s73v3r (963317)

          No, that before they didn't get to keep the fee even if they accepted it. All revenue generated went to the Treasury fund, and they had to make due with whatever Congress gave them, which was usually a pittance.

      • by s73v3r (963317)

        Well, prior to this, the Patent office was given a pittance in funding, which meant that they couldn't really hire many people, let alone those with industry knowledge, to work and evaluate patents. Hopefully this will change that.

  • Why do I have a bad feeling about this?
    • by haxwk (2268722)
      Probably because the title of this article starts with "US House..."
    • by jd (1658)

      Because that's no moon, that's a business group patent system proposal?

  • both parties say

    This so close to an election year? I don't smell roses.

    • I think both camps smell like something right about now and it certainly ain't roses. That said, since this is coming from the House *cringe* I'm certain there's an easter egg for the Democrats in there somewhere.
  • ...I have a very bad feeling about this.

    Nope. It's going to get A LOT worse before it gets better. That's change, if change means exactly what everyone else has done.

    • You know, from time to time I've wondered if it might not be faster to get upstream by propelling the country down.
    • The backlog is a Bad Thing because it makes every patent a sort of mini-submarine patent. In the time it takes an application to get examined (often over 3 years to first office action, and sometimes 5 or more years until issuance), one of the applicant's competitors can develop a successful business based on what eventually winds up in the patent. That's bad for the patentee, of course, because it establishes a competitor in the public eye selling the same product, but it's also bad for the competitor, b

  • by Kongming (448396) on Wednesday June 22, 2011 @04:47PM (#36534556)

    I have been thinking about a possible model for handling the awarding of patents that might mitigate certain problems with our current patent system. I'm curious as to if anyone has any feedback on it.

    As the last stage of the patent registration process (so when the applicant already knows that the patent will be awarded), the applicant declares how much they will charge to license the patent. There would probably need to be multiple licensing models (flat-rate, per product sold, etc.) that the applicant could opt for - I don't know enough about patent law to go into detail here. The applicant must then pay a fee whose amount is related to the declared licensing cost before the patent is officially awarded. (The clock is already ticking on the patent's expiration, of course.) The applicant is free to charge less to parties to license the patent if they choose, but are obligated to license it to any interested party for no more than the previously declared amount.

    Here are the advantages of the system:

    1. Under the current system, there are currently parties who file or acquire a large number of cheap, vague patents solely in the hopes that some other party develops a massively profitable technology that happens to make use of them so they can extort a large sum of money from them. This practice is a parasitic load on technological development and should not be unnecessarily enabled by our patent system. The fact that the patent registration fee under the model I describe is related to the size of the licensing fee would discourage this practice. If the applicant didn't pay much to register the patents, then they cannot charge much for licensing. If the applicant did have enough confidence that the patents would actually be used profitably when they registered the patents, then that would indicate that the patents were actually of some value.

    2. If the applicant is the proverbial "private inventor" without much in the way of financial resources but develops what they believe to be highly valuable IP, the fact that the fee need not be declared until it is already known that the patent will be awarded will aid in them acquiring investment capital to cover the fees to complete the registration of any relevant patents.

    3. Under the current system, there are some industries in which companies acquire patents on potentially competing technology for the sole purpose of sitting on them and preventing what would otherwise be a better alternative to their business from developing. The mandatory licensing system would effectively prevent this practice, and the relation of registration fees to licensing costs would discourage setting unreasonably high prices to potential competitors.

    Thoughts? Criticisms?

    • by Rei (128717)

      If your goal is to reward big businesses and screw over small ones, by all means, increase filing costs.

    • The applicant is free to charge less to parties to license the patent if they choose, but are obligated to license it to any interested party for no more than the previously declared amount.

      I guess the application can just ask for <Dr Evil Voice>One billion dollars</Dr Evil Voice> and then charge less depending on their mood on any given day. Also, as the importance of the patent becomes clearer to their industry the value of licensing it could go up by orders of magnitude.

    • by Sarten-X (1102295)

      Disadvantages:

      1. An inventor who's exhausted his budget on R&D has an incentive to lower the value of his patent, to lower the cost to register. Big companies with money to burn on registration can artificially inflate their value, giving them justification for high licensing prices. Knowing that the patent will be awarded doesn't help, because it's likely more profitable for an investor to license the technology after the fact than invest in the patent itself.
      2. Mandatory licensing partially defeats the pur
    • by Teancum (67324) <{ten.orezten} {ta} {gninroh_trebor}> on Wednesday June 22, 2011 @05:25PM (#36535088) Homepage Journal

      Here is my thought on a method to handle the awarding of patents:

      Don't.

      Yup. Simply outlaw the practice altogether and let trade secrets be the law of the land. By the time a product has gone through testing and has made it to the consumer, it is likely nearing the end of its useful life for patent protection anyway.

      I consider patent legislation to be a failed social experiment whose time is nearing an end. No, I'm not really an anarchist and I do believe in the rule of law and even think there is a necessity for a legal system, but that patents tend to help those who don't need help and don't protect those that do. I also don't know of any way to reform the system sufficiently to be able to "protect the little guy" without screwing them over even more than they are, where being blunt that legal protection through patents doesn't work at all is likely the best advise you can give to a young aspiring inventor.

      Having known many engineers and "inventors" in my lifetime, including some who sought protection through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, not a single one of them ever received in royalties any money more than the legal costs they spent trying to get the patent in the first place, assuming they got anything at all in the first place. At best all a patent has been useful for is a resume bullet point that might make the difference to get a job interview. I guess that counts for something, but it wouldn't be something I would necessarily be impressed with other than showing you actually do know how to work with lawyers.

      • by Artagel (114272)
        A new small molecule drug costs about $500 million to $600 million to develop these days. You get 5 years to recover that money without a patent. Trade secrets won't work, small molecule drug pills are very easily reverse engineered. A patent should be viewed as insurance on a business cash stream. If you don't have a specific plan for a cash stream, you are buying a lottery ticket where the payoffs are infrequent and low. If you can even get the lottery commission to pay attention to you when you try to c
        • by melikamp (631205)

          A new small molecule drug costs about $500 million to $600 million to develop these days.

          Right. This is exactly why we need to pay for it directly from taxes. Because if we don't pay researchers directly, then we get our present fucked up system where a new small molecule drug costs additional $500 million to $600 million to market, and another $200 million in executive bonuses. Who do you think pays for that today?

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        The intent of patents isn't to protect knowledge that is out in the open as if it were a secret.

        The intent is to give incentives to make secret knowledge public.
        Think publishing a "how to build a Stradivarius violin" manual, not a "how to make several small pieces of paper out of a big one" manual.

        Basically patents weren't meant for technologies that are practical to reverse-engineer. They were meant for technology that is impossible to reverse-engineer.

        I know modern reality is far from the ideal.

        • by Teancum (67324)

          The intent of patents isn't to protect knowledge that is out in the open as if it were a secret.

          The intent is to give incentives to make secret knowledge public.
          Think publishing a "how to build a Stradivarius violin" manual, not a "how to make several small pieces of paper out of a big one" manual.

          Basically patents weren't meant for technologies that are practical to reverse-engineer. They were meant for technology that is impossible to reverse-engineer.

          I know modern reality is far from the ideal.

          If you could show me a current patent application that has been filed in the past 20 years, I defy you to be able to explain how to actually create something based upon the wording of that application even if you were "skilled in the arts" of the industry that patent supposedly covers. Patents simply don't work that way.

          All a patent application has is a list of legal language that involves claims for what might be the idea or concept, and noting previous patents and claims to which this idea is not because

      • That may be a great idea, to outlaw patents, but you don't know. It hasn't been tried for hundreds of years, and do you know what all the side effects would be? No, you don't. No one knows what the side effects of such a huge change would be.

        If you want to implement such a drastic change, you need a better plan: one that step-by-step, over time, moves towards the goal. They have to be careful steps, with each step testing things that might break, so they can be reversed if things go too wrong, and fixed.
        • by Teancum (67324)

          We know of specific industries like the computer software industry that not only thrived but flourished without patents for many decades, and it could be argued suffered dramatically when patent protection was introduced as a concept. The ramifications of that one legal decision are still being felt today in a negative manner where the full impact has yet to be completely worked through the industry.

          More to the point, what good are patents really doing? I keep asking for this, and while there are some won

    • by Artagel (114272)
      The real question is whether this is a solution to the "patent troll" problem. IBM generates a billion a year off of licensing its patents. Is IBM a troll? What about universities that develop technology with no intention of starting a business? There are small inventors who find these patent-acquiring entities useful because it is a way of monetizing the invention and getting it to those who will attempt to get someone to use the technology in a meaningful way. Other problems: venture capitalists don't fu
    • That would empower those with money. Big business could dance all over a smaller business' patent rights given that they could not afford to pay for the right to a large damage claim. A far more useful tool against trolls would be to have an expiration date on their time to file a defense against a company leveraging an aspect of their patent. This would eliminate the present game of waiting for a company to get big and more so-called damages to accrue before filing suit. It also might not be a bad idea
    • by labnet (457441)

      Here are my ideas which are a twist on yours
      - patent owners must be commercially utilizing their patent to keep it. (within 4 years of patent application)
      - software and business process should not be patentable (ie 1 click)
      - accidental infringement be not initially punishable
      - the bar for novelty to receive a patent be way higher than it is now.
      - patent application / renewal fees be based on number of patents held
      eg x = v * n(n+1)/2 where v = the base patent cost.
      Lets say v = $100
      1 Patent = $100/annum to ma

  • Doesn't moving from first-to-invent to first-to-file essentially get rid of the Prior Art argument when attempting to invalidate a patent?
    • It does sound like a bill to ensure job security for professional patent trolls, but I'll reserve judgement until I have a chance to read the--oh nevermind.
    • by slinches (1540051)

      No it doesn't. You still can't patent anything that is public knowledge or where there is clear prior art (at least you're not supposed to be able to). It simply means that when a patent is challenged on priority, the filing date and not the date of invention is used. The good thing about that is that it simplifies the court cases having a hard date to point to. Although, there is potential that if someone gains knowledge of your invention and files a patent before you, it'll be significantly more diffi

  • by sl4shd0rk (755837) on Wednesday June 22, 2011 @04:52PM (#36534626)

    "ease the lengthy backlog in patent applications, clean up some of the procedures that can lead to costly litigation and put the United States under the same filing system as the rest of the industrialized world."

    IOW, same absurd shit, only faster, cheaper and standardized.

  • Because nothing says increase due diligence by patent examiners like "ease the lengthy backlog in patent applications".

  • and have triple digit term lengths.
  • Considering that the only thing the government does well is F*ck Things Up, this does bode well for small business.

    Patent and IP lawyers, on the other hand, should be most pleased by this.
  • Because the US government has nothing better to do - watch, I bet they are going to make a bad system even worse.
  • by Skarecrow77 (1714214) on Wednesday June 22, 2011 @05:06PM (#36534824)

    This is not the overhaul you're looking for.
    Move along.

  • Does this bill do anything about being able to patent "obvious" evolutionary changes to a product? That seems to be the issue that underlines most of the patent contentions--one company patents an idea, and another, seemingly independently, comes up with the same idea on it's own.
  • and put the United States under the same filing system as the rest of the industrialized world.

    Here comes ACTA... Call me a Cynic.

    - Dan.

  • If there's one thing this world needs it's more patents.

    There's too much innovation and not enough litigation nowadays.

    P.S.: The order of the words in this posts and the subject is innovative so I've just applied for a patent for it, so if you quote it or reply to it you can expect to hear from my lawyers.

  • When most people see overhaul they think make better, but for government everything is about money. Streamlining the patent system means a big rubber stamp approving every single application without reading it then let the courts figure out the mess. More money for gov, more IP for big business to put on the balance sheet to pump up their (on paper) net corporate worth.

When in doubt, mumble; when in trouble, delegate; when in charge, ponder. -- James H. Boren

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