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Obama To Sign 'America Invents Act of 2011' Today 244

Posted by Soulskill
from the system-and-method-for-inhaling-oxygen dept.
ideonexus writes "President Obama will be signing the 'America Invents Act of 2011' into law today at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Va. The bill will transition America from a 'first-to-invent" to a 'first-to-file" country, but critics argue that the bill fails to address the more important problem that 'nobody can tell what a patent covers until they've spent months or years working it out, often in the courts.'"
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Obama To Sign 'America Invents Act of 2011' Today

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  • America Invents? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 16, 2011 @10:59AM (#37420406)
    What kind of title is that? Doublespeak and marketing entering politics.
    • by GameboyRMH (1153867) <gameboyrmh@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Friday September 16, 2011 @11:00AM (#37420428) Journal

      Like the PATRIOT act. The title is an ironic opposite of what the act actually does.

      • by Enry (630) <enry@[ ]ga.net ['way' in gap]> on Friday September 16, 2011 @11:06AM (#37420528) Journal

        Clear Skies Act, No Child Left Behind...

        • by Jeremiah Cornelius (137) on Friday September 16, 2011 @11:12AM (#37420612) Homepage Journal

          First to file.

          Now.

          Raise filing fees and barriers to protect incumbent interests.

          Why not? In Amerika today, money has already become the right to vote, and the right to speech.

      • Or "Healthcare Reform" that makes it illegal not to buy the product your claiming to reform.

        As soon as I hear "Reform" on the end of the bill I cringe. Its obvious it was written by the same people that the bill allegedly regulates.

        I don't think the founding fathers of the United States ever would have imagined that an elected government could turn in to such a satirical farce of Edward Bernays' proportions.

    • by gandhi_2 (1108023)

      The "China Produces Act" was already taken.

    • Doublespeak and marketing entering politics.

      That should be

      Doublespeak and marketing rears it's ugly head again in politics.

      For many years, politics has been primarily doublespeak and marketing.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      This bill is a scam. Included is a provision to bailout a law firm. They missed a patent deadline but with this bill, congress is giving them a pass and applying the patent retro. Its a big win for the law firm who's take from this will be in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
      And yes, they gave heavily to Obama...
      • Re:America Invents? (Score:4, Informative)

        by euroq (1818100) on Friday September 16, 2011 @03:46PM (#37423692)

        You are a liar. They are not applying the patent retro. They are clarifying the deadline rules, so that the rules in law (on paper) are explicit to what two judges have already ruled is the case.

        "[The company] had received F.D.A. approval for Angiomax after the customary close of business on a Friday, the 60-day clock should not have started ticking until the next Monday."

        It has already been determined by two judges and the government has not appealed the decision that the above statement is correct - the company did not miss their patent deadline. NOTHING THIS BILL DOES IS GOING TO CHANGE ANYTHING FOR THAT LAWFIRM AND COMPANY. It is only going to clarify the rules. (Actually, on second thought, it will remove the threat of APP Pharmaceuticals's appeal)

        Even if this did retroactively give the patent to this company (which is won't), that wouldn't be a bailout - no government money would be given to them (you might have an argument for corruption, but it's not a bailout).

        Finally, the funny thing in the NYT article is that two Republicans want the patent protection for the company to go away because "...the extra patent protection on Angiomax could cost hospitals and consumers $1 billion.". Well, Republicans, that's EXACTLY what you wanted when you opposed "socialized" healthcare! That very argument was the left's argument for the healthcare overhaul. Patents are what help drug companies make lots of money "at the expense of hospitals and consumers", because they will in turn fund new R&D for new medicines.

  • Oh, this is just the start of a whole raft of things wrong with US patent law.

    Business method, anyone?

  • by gameboyhippo (827141) on Friday September 16, 2011 @11:00AM (#37420430) Journal

    How about first to do both. You would have to have an invention before you can file. Otherwise, I'm patenting time travel.

    • by tepples (727027) <tepples@gm a i l . com> on Friday September 16, 2011 @11:06AM (#37420526) Homepage Journal

      The old way: You have to have invented the product or process and reduced it to practice, you have to file a patent application, and you have to have invented before other inventors.
      The new way: You have to have invented the product or process and reduced it to practice, you have to file a patent application, and you have to have filed before other inventors.

      The purported advantage of the new way is that it's a lot easier to prove having filed first than to prove having reduced it to practice first.

      • So if I develop something and release it as open source, any jerk with the money to pay for a patent filing can file a patent on my work and claim it as their own, because they were the first to file. :(

      • We will see companies and individuals flooding the patent office will all kinds of wacky half formed patents to try and get there first. Like the rush to capture Web domain names to be able to sell them to the company who's name you used finds out that there company name's domain name is owned by someone holding it hostage. I don't see that this is a useful way to go about things.

        It may be that prior art can invalidate a patent still but it may be invalidated for the first to file rather than the inventor.

      • by nsxdavid (254126) *

        Does this mean things that patents that were previously invalidated by prior art will then be patentable again?

      • How about a "use it or lose it provision" like with trademark law? In order to keep a patent, you (i.e. the current patent holder) have to bring a product to market, and you have to continue selling any product which is reliant on that patent throughout the life of the patent...or the patent is voided so that others can give it a shot. If the monopoly is not promoting the progress, then it is unconstitutional. That would be more in step with the constitution than any other proposal I've seen, short of NOT
        • by BluBrick (1924)

          I actually like the use it or lose it idea, but by incentive, rather than directly codified in law. My proposal for patent reform is based on the idea that an invention must be truly innovative and of clear benefit to the inventor to even consider a patent. I'm sure this would never see the light of day. It quite probably violates several points of law or clauses of the US constitution, but it's kinda nice to dream.

          The actual numbers given here are simple examples.

          • Patents have a limited life. 10 Year
      • by sjames (1099)

        And we're perfectly happy to crush the dreams of the first inventor and actually send government goons to keep him from profiting from the sweat of his brow in order to continue pretending that this is a simple bureaucratic procedure with no shades of grey.

    • by gandhi_2 (1108023)

      http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1394833#%23 [ssrn.com]

      "...reforms had a small adverse effect on domestic-oriented industries and skewed the ownership structure of patented inventions towards large corporations, away from independent inventors and small businesses."

      Now you get FTF. And why Obama and Hatch agree on it.

      • by 517714 (762276)
        The "small adverse effect" was not sufficient for our government/corporate overlords, overkill in favor of the large corporations was required. Their turn of a phrase reminds me of this [wikipedia.org]
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Theaetetus (590071)

      How about first to do both. You would have to have an invention before you can file. Otherwise, I'm patenting time travel.

      The change is as opposed to the earlier "first to invent" system, in which you could be the second person to file, but still get the patent. Basically, under the old system, say person A conceives of an idea on January 1. They diligently and continuously work to reduce the idea to practice, and file a patent application on December 1. Meanwhile, person B conceived of the idea on June 1, and being quicker, filed a patent application July 1. Even though B filed first, A would get the patent, because A had fir

      • by Aladrin (926209)

        If that disclosure thing is correct, and the courts actually see it that way, then this system is much better. First-disclosed is much better for the community than first-invented or first-filed. It's an incentive to actually report new inventions, so that everyone can eventually benefit from them.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Theaetetus (590071)

          If that disclosure thing is correct, and the courts actually see it that way, then this system is much better. First-disclosed is much better for the community than first-invented or first-filed. It's an incentive to actually report new inventions, so that everyone can eventually benefit from them.

          Agreed... There's one slight wrinkle, however...

          In the US, you now have that encouragement to disclose your new invention immediately, to prevent anyone else from filing a patent application on it. You still have one year to file your patent application. HOWEVER, there's no one-year grace period in Europe under the EPO rules: as soon as you disclose your new invention, that disclosure is prior art to any patent application of yours, even if you file the following week. So Europe actually discourages disclo

      • by geekoid (135745)

        " that counts as prior art against B, but not A (for one year)."
        so so you missed the double talk of the bill.

        AS it turns out, that one year exemption will only apply to win it's signed. After a year it won't be worth diddly.
        I spend several hours listening to patent expert discuss this issue a couple of weeks ago.

        Also, it will severally hamper in attempt I make to get investor in on my inventions. Because that could, quite legally, take my idea and patent it and I have NO RECOURSE.

        This is the typical 'Somet

        • by Kirijini (214824)

          "that one year exemption will only apply to win it's signed."

          What does that mean?

          "it will severally hamper in attempt I make to get investor in on my inventions"

          What does this mean?

          "that could, quite literally, take my idea and patent it and I have NO RECOURSE"

          If they take your idea and try to patent it, you can sue them. When someone files a patent app, that person has to swear under oath that he/she invented the invention. If you can show that you invented it, and they stole your idea, then they're in d

    • by foobsr (693224)

      You would have to have an invention before you can file. ...

      My understanding so far was that an idea suffices to get a patent. Afterwards, you wait until someone else comes up with the invention and then sue. Am I mistaken?

      CC.

      • First, IANAL

        It is true that you can get a patent without a working prototype. The act of thinking of something is the invention, not the act of building it. If your device actually does work, you can either build it yourself or license others to do so, and profit. If it doesn't work, then when someone comes along who CAN make it work, they'll probably have a different enough invention that they can get their own patent. Your previous patent will probably fall under prior art, but that doesn't matter too muc

        • by Shotgun (30919)

          The act of thinking of something is the invention

          You may actually be correct legally, I don't actually know, but this is baloney. Ideas are a dime a dozen. I come up with ideas ALL the time. Reducing the idea to practice, ie actually making something that does what the patent claims it does, is where the real work of inventing is. The politicians may use the definition you gave, but let's face it, most of them are in politics because they can't handle real work.

          It is not until you actually try to build the invention that you uncover all the nuances th

      • In theory "you can't patent an idea", but it's basically doublespeak. (They also say that you can't patent an algorithm, but then explain to me the H.264 patents.)

        The trouble is software patents (again). If you look at very low level software, like when you're talking about assembly language or codecs or the like, it's basically unadulterated pure math. To the extent that you create abstractions so that you're dealing with objects and representations rather than raw numbers and equations/algorithms, you're

    • by nedlohs (1335013)

      Once you invent time travel it's not going to be terribly difficult to be first to file... of course the time travel patent will have expired hundreds of years ago in a race to be first.

    • Before, you could challenge a patent on the basis that you actually invented something first, even though the party currently holding the patent filed first. At that point, the court would have to determine who truly invented the device or process first, usually by considering evidence such as notes, lab books, or private correspondence. Bell had to do this at one point when his telephone patent was challenged, and apocryphally came down to the question of who really understood what it meant for an "undulat

    • The USPTO has the power to request a working model of any item sought to be patented, but usually does not enforce it. This is to encourage small inventors who may have great ideas without the ability to reduce it to practice to get a patent to shop around to big companies. The exception, of course, is that the USPTO has a standing requirement that any perpetual motion device has to be reduced to practice first before it can be patented.

      • And yet it isn't hard to find examples of patents issued for devices that violate the laws of thermodynamics.
  • America (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dunbal (464142) * on Friday September 16, 2011 @11:01AM (#37420442)
    Invents a better way to screw Americans.
  • The term "patent reform" clearly wasn't specific enough, in the same way that "body panel reform" to a clearly damaged car could mean whacking it with a crow bar in some random places. Hey, it's reformed, right?

    We have to come up with an unmistakeable description. Patent lightening? Patent un-fucking? I dunno. Make some suggestions.

  • Honesty in naming (Score:4, Interesting)

    by roman_mir (125474) on Friday September 16, 2011 @11:15AM (#37420676) Homepage Journal

    Again, I just posted on this in the previous story [slashdot.org].

    HONESTY IN NAMING. Give that bill's number, make them read it. Of-course this will do nothing for Obama's reelection, but this "America Invents Act" will do nothing for inventions in America.

    There are 152 PAGES in that bill. (PDF warning) [house.gov]

    152 pages. You'd think to have America "inventing" you wouldn't need that. What you'd need is to stop punishing people for investments with inflation, taxes, regulations and insane spending, like that on wars. How about ABOLISHING the patent system altogether and abolishing all patents and refunding those that are pending by the way? Having a freer society, so that people could ACTUALLY INVENT AND INNOVATE without FEAR of being SUED?

    You think they'll stop wars in that bill? You think they'll stop inflation and encourage underconsumption, savings and investments?

    Please. It's about dates of filing, it's about law suits. It's about more government protections given to large corporations. It's about lawyers.

    The only 'innovation' that will be promoted by this bill will be lawyer innovation, innovative ways to file MORE LAWSUITS.

    That's all this is going to do - more lawsuits and actually less innovation and fewer inventions, as always the exact opposite of what the bill is named.

    • by Applekid (993327)

      I don't necessarily agree with abolition because it's a bit of a fatalistic fix. Patents just need to be fixed.

      They were great at encouraging invention during the early US. People that filed patents would use those patents and actually make stuff. Improvements could also be filed as separate patents and the US Patent Office sorted it out and kept things nice and tidy.

      Today corporations are be considered as individual people and corporations own ideas. The state of technology today is such that most of the l

    • Thanks for posting the PDF link. I'm reading it, and cringing ...

      ‘‘(b) REQUIRED STATEMENTS.—An oath or declara-
      tion under subsection (a) shall contain statements that—
      ..‘‘(1) the application was made or was author-
      ..ized to be made by the affiant or declarant; and
      ..‘‘(2) such individual believes himself or herself
      ..to be the original inventor or an original joint inven-
      ..tor of a claimed invention in the application.
      .‘‘(c) ADDITIONAL REQUIR

      • by roman_mir (125474)

        You HAVE to give protection to dead people because if you don't, they won't innovate and invent again.

  • by Scootin159 (557129) on Friday September 16, 2011 @11:15AM (#37420678) Homepage

    ... otherwise someone could easily steal your design, write up a patent for it, and beat you to the patent office. Now you're out of business unless you pay royalties to them because they beat you to the office first.

    Makes me wonder what FOSS software hasn't been patented yet, seems like all you need to do now is file a patent and you can claim ownership over a project that you had nothing to do with.

  • Best Suggestion EVAR (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Kamiza Ikioi (893310) on Friday September 16, 2011 @11:18AM (#37420728) Homepage

    I was listening to a TWiT tech podcast, don't remember which one or who said this, but... They asked for one thing in a software patent... working demonstration code.

    Immediately, light bulbs were going off for me. Finally, that might solve some abandon-ware problems. Forces companies to actually make a practical use idea (rather than, "two taps does a different action than one tap" patent, and yes, that's a real patent). And, above all, satisfies what patents were originally intended for. Protecting innovation, but also, sharing that idea with others who can improve it... and a significant improvement on someone's patent is itself, patentable.

    More than anything, this would also expose frivolous patents. You have to actually MAKE the product or at least a demo before you can patent it. And, code can be checked with an algorithm to see if it already exists. That would be a fabulous tool for dev shops who could check all sorts of software, and get an immediate response with a quick code search.

    • And, code can be checked with an algorithm to see if it already exists.

      That would require solving the halting problem.

      • And, code can be checked with an algorithm to see if it already exists.

        That would require solving the halting problem.

        I see what you are saying, but that's not what I'm talking about. This would simply be a line by line check of code and outputting the relevant similarity. This same algorithm check is done in anti-plagiarism software. If that code were all public, we wouldn't need to rely on the patent office to run the check either. Google does patent search. Using some translation magic, differing languages could be checked against each other... C++ to C# or Java to PHP.

  • This critic argues that the bill fails to address the most important problem in patent law: that it still exists!
    • This critic argues that the bill fails to address the most important problem in patent law: that it still exists!

      That is indeed unfortunate but until you can solve the even bigger problem of the free rider problem [wikipedia.org] then a well designed patent regime remains better than no patent regime. Patents may slow invention but the free rider problem can halt invention entirely. There is no point in investing lots of money developing a technology that can be copied much more cheaply by someone who doesn't have to pay your R&D costs.

      You can argue (and I will probably agree) that our current patent system is rather broken. T

      • That is indeed unfortunate but until you can solve the even bigger problem of the free rider problem [wikipedia.org] then a well designed patent regime remains better than no patent regime.

        Big companies get a free ride from smaller ones in the current system because the small fry can't afford to defend their patents or fully exploit the advantages of their innovation against bigger entrenched interests with far more capital.

        If you do something innovative, the most you can hope for is to sell your company to a bigger player... you have next to no chance of actually becoming big yourself.

        • If you do something innovative, the most you can hope for is to sell your company to a bigger player... you have next to no chance of actually becoming big yourself

          Complete nonsense. It is pretty clear you aren't an entrepreneur. Yes it is hard to grow from a small company to a bigger one but it happens every single day. Large companies have advantages but new smaller companies push them out of the way all the time. There is only one company in the Dow Jones index that was there 100 years ago (GE) and in another 100 years the list will likely change completely again. If you've got something genuinely valuable it isn't especially difficult to get capital to grow t

      • Invention happened BEFORE patents existed. Economic incentives exist without patents. Inventors just keep things much more secret than before to hold on to it longer; which is probably more effective than any patent China just ignores after reading the publicly published details-- not even that hard, they make it already so they just take of your brand name and sell another one from the same factory.

        A great deal of progress was done outside the for-profit R&D world; it never gets the level of credit bec

        • Invention happened BEFORE patents existed.

          Very inefficiently in capital intensive industries. If you have a product that is manpower intensive, patents won't matter. Before patents most industry was in agriculture which (at the time) was not a capital intensive industry. If you have a capital intensive product (which describes most things we'd call technology these days) invention is very difficult because the incentive to invest is seriously impacted by the free rider problem. You simply aren't going to invest billions in research if someone e

  • by Lumpy (12016) on Friday September 16, 2011 @11:40AM (#37420980) Homepage

    The defense against it is simple. Do your research and publish it ALL to the public. Release it and get it out there Creative commons licensing eliminates the possibility of your idea being patented and stolen from you.

    Stop being selfish asshats. Invent and release it to the wild.

    • by compro01 (777531)

      Creative commons licensing eliminates the possibility of your idea being patented and stolen from you.

      Hah. The patent will still get awarded. Publishing it will merely means it takes 5 years instead of 10 years to get it invalidated in court.

    • by Shotgun (30919)

      Stop being selfish asshats. Invent and release it to the wild.

      My front yard need mowing. Now, would YOU stop being a selfish asshat, and come mow it for me?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I can't find the original PDF that I had, but this blog has a copy of a letter that the CEO of OnLive wrote, condemning this legislation. He holds a number of patents that are used throughout the tech industry, and describes from a real life example (motion capture) how first-to-file would have ruined it.

    http://onlivespot.blogspot.com/2011/09/onlive-founder-and-ceo-steve-perlman.html

  • You never know the full effect of legislation until it hits the courts. We'll see if this has any improvement. Personally I feel that new copyright law for software is needed and then limit patents to only physically producible items. No software patents, no business practice patents. If it can't be manufactured, you can't patent it. Patent infringement should be handled first by submitting documentation of a product that is actually being sold and your patent number to the patent office. If an examin
    • by mark-t (151149)

      Your proposed criteria for patentability of whether or not it can be physically manufactured is, IMO, an excellent one.

      It's unfortunate that those in a position of power sufficient to actually overhaul the patent system in that way don't agree with you.

  • How ironic is that, because if it is, it would undermine one of the greatest achievements that Americans like to attribute to their country. Will this act from Obama cause Americans to rewrite their history books about who invented the Airplane, since the Brazilian Alberto Santos-Dumont filed first: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santos-Dumont_14-bis [wikipedia.org] ?
    Before Americans start to bash me, I would suggest them read this article: http://www.airshowfan.com/first-airplane.htm [airshowfan.com]
  • Yes, having individuals file patents is bad. We will raise prices (already around several thousand dollars) to even higher levels ensuring only large corporations can claim patents and steal all invention.

  • Isn't that legalized claim jumping?

  • I am not even going to get political here..

    What really pisses me off.. is that they closed down 395 between Alexandria and DC.. fortunately for me I took lunch at 11, when they were setting up the road blocks. I just missed being stuck in about 10 miles of stopped traffic and people walking around outside of their cars on 395.. a massive road.. and one of the main thoroughfares into and out of DC..

    You have a helicopter Mr President.. use the fucking thing and stop screwing up traffic that is already a mess

    • by LanMan04 (790429)

      You drive to work in the DC metro area? What the hell is wrong with you?

      WAMTA FTW.

      And since when is 395 between Alexandria and the District? Don't you mean Lincolia/Springfield?

  • some real analysis on what this means. I get it, as an american im used to political bills having little to do with their meaning
    but what does RMS think of this? Corey Doctorow? even the guys from Oracle and Microsoft might be neat to hear from as to
    what this does and why/if it matters. Patents are weird, often times they suck, and frequently they're just surrogates for invention at all.

    id also love to know who sponsored the bill
  • Here, let me reduce to practice the meaning of this change in today's world.

    Several people or groups are all working in a field and certain ideas are in the air, as is typical of science and industry.

    The organization that has the most patent-oriented mindset with the largest, most experienced, and highest paid team of patent lawyers gets the papers drawn up and filed first.

    If you think that sounds a lot like certain large and well-known software and hardware companies, you've just figured out who benefits f

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