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USPTO Head: Current Patent Litigation Is 'Reasonable' 153

Posted by Soulskill
from the patent-lawyers-everywhere-agree dept.
elashish14 writes "David Kappos, head of the USPTO, today provided a strong defense of the patent system, particularly in the mobile industry. In his address, he implored critics, 'Give the [America Invents Act] a chance to work.' He then went on to proclaim the 'absolutely breakneck pace' of innovation in the smartphone industry and that the U.S. patent system is 'the envy of the world,' though he was likely only referring to the envy of the world's lawyers. Perhaps the most laughable quote from his address: 'The explosion of litigation we are seeing is a reflection of how the patent system wires us for innovation.'"
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USPTO Head: Current Patent Litigation Is 'Reasonable'

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  • DUH (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @02:22PM (#42045273)

    of course the boss is gonna say everything is peachy...

  • by dclozier (1002772) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @02:25PM (#42045313)
    Only someone with a vested interest would think it's working great. Seriously.
  • In other news (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Threni (635302) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @02:27PM (#42045361)

    The head of the SEA agrees all current drug laws are spot on and he expects, with his multi billion dollar annual budget, to announce the complete cessation of all illegal drug taking any day now.

  • by jerpyro (926071) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @02:28PM (#42045365)

    ... another Bureaucrat defending his corporately lobbied position.

    Remember folks: government officials have an interest in securing and maintaining their department's funding, not (unless they're exceptional) in making progress.

  • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @02:31PM (#42045411) Homepage

    This goes beyond 'regulatory capture', it's more like 'regulatory Stockholm Syndrome'

  • by the computer guy nex (916959) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @02:35PM (#42045453)
    Push your agenda in the comment section, where it belongs. The article summaries should be much more neutral.
  • by Runesabre (732910) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @02:35PM (#42045461) Homepage

    The current patent ecosystem, at least in regards to computer technology in general, has incentivized an environment of innovative litigation schemes rather than incentivizing true product innovation. Too many businesses and lawyers making money from schemes that do not produce (and never intended to produce) tangible results other than to sue for money on white paper ideas that never saw (and never expected to see) the light of day until some other entity actually (often unknowingly) puts in the effort of true innovation while tripping over hidden patent traps.

  • by ccguy (1116865) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @02:39PM (#42045515) Homepage
    The thing is, the patent system is supposed to cover everything. Not just phones, where you needs a zillion things to get even the most basic (useful) device.

    Maybe he's right and the patent system is excellent for a lot of other areas where a patent covers one specific thing and it's indeed possible to invent something really new that doesn't step on anyone else's work.

    Here we tend to piss on anything that relates to USPTO, but then again we have a tendency to believe that if they let us we'd fix lots of broken things in a heartbeat because the problem here is just a lack of geeks in the relevant power areas.
  • by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @02:40PM (#42045527)
    He does not have to own stock in any of the companies that profit from the current, broken patent system to have a vested interest in the current system. He is the head of the Patent Office. Most of the suggested reforms would reduce the significance of the Patent Office, which would reduce his significance.
  • by Jeng (926980) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @02:42PM (#42045551)

    He does have a vested interest in not changing things, changing things would require work and all he wants is a paycheck, and once he goes back to the private sector he is going to get some absolutely massive paychecks if the system he wants to game is not changed.

  • by Baloroth (2370816) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @02:44PM (#42045575)

    But he specifically brought up smartphones as an example of where the system was working well. Maybe the system does work well in other areas, but if the head of the office is trying to use smartphones as an example of patents inspiring "innovation", he is... an idiot, quite frankly (or a liar, either way, not trustworthy).

    Combine that with lots of other crap coming out of the office (like labeling any business that uses trademarks as an "IP-business" to defend IP laws, even if you're just working construction), and it doesn't paint a very pretty picture. I'm not sure I'd go so far as to say it's outright corruption, but it's incompetence, at least.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @02:52PM (#42045677)

    china makes US patented stuff mostly on contract by US companies

    Yet one could argue that China's current economic boom owes quite a bit to simply ignoring IP law. Much as the whole reason that New York City is today a major publishing center can be traced back to the 1800s and folks in the US simply ignoring IP law.

    Emerging economies do best when they ignore the artificial barriers put in place by the current incumbents, not least as those barriers are often there solely to protect those incumbents. Comparing the patent-laden high-tech sector to the likely equally fast-paced yet patent-less fashion sector strongly suggests that patents and innovation are, at best, orthogonal.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @02:56PM (#42045729)

    Come on, the idiocy of some USPTO issued patents is not a matter of opinion. If you push neutrality over facts you're gonna have a bad time-

  • Re:DUH (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @02:57PM (#42045745) Homepage Journal
    Indeed.

    This is no different than when the head of the TSA talks about how great a job he thinks the TSA is doing, or when a DEA agent talks about how horrible a drug marijuana is.

    I believe the layman's term for this practice is 'not shitting where one eats.'
  • Breakneck indeed! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Captain Spam (66120) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @03:07PM (#42045845) Homepage

    He then went on to proclaim the 'absolutely breakneck pace' of innovation in the smartphone industry [...]

    In that each smartphone manufacturer is using the patent system in new and innovative ways as a legal bludgeon to break each other's necks, right?

  • by LoyalOpposition (168041) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @03:26PM (#42046091)

    Personally I believe there are 2 sides to almost any story, including this one.

    There is some evidence to suggest that any monopoly privilege grant, such as patents, will be expanded with time. The benefits to owning monopoly privileges are concentrated amongst the few owners, while the costs of being excluded are diffuse amongst the population at large. Under those conditions, the political incentive will be to expand monopoly rights, regardless of the current state of those rights. The reason is that it pays the benefactors to lobby congress, whereas it's a net loss to individuals to do so, even when they win.

    Although it's in a different area, copyrights instead of patents, no doubt this explains why the copyright expiration has been repeatedly extended.

    ~Loyal

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @03:30PM (#42046155)
    Have you ever considered that maybe a lot of innovations have occurred in spite of patents rather than because of patents? When people can patent rounded corners or other obvious things, the patent system is broken..
  • by gerddie (173963) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @03:32PM (#42046181)
    Of course: people innovate, with or without patents. They did so for millennia without patent protection and it went just fine. Actually, without patents its easier to innovate, because you don't need to worry about other peoples "intellectual property", instead you have to worry about how to stay ahead.
  • by Baloroth (2370816) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @03:39PM (#42046235)

    I believe this, and I really am not entirely opposed to hardware patents, it's just that when a device needs to license literally thousands of patents in order to provide basic, often completely obvious (slide-to-unlock, for example), functionality, something is seriously broken.

  • by Anne Thwacks (531696) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @04:48PM (#42047183)
    Companies that innovate, everywhere, curse the US patent system for its stupidity from morning to night, and say how even the <list of random undeveloped countries> systems are saner.

    I am not saying they don't benefit, EVERYONE is saying they would benefit a whole lot more if the US patent system was even slighly saner. Plus, almost everyone else disallows patents of software and business methods.

  • by Rob Y. (110975) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @06:06PM (#42048349)

    The obvious part is that you need some kind of identifiable gesture to unlock the phone - otherwise it would unlock itself spontaneously when sitting in your pocket. You've suggested several different gestures, but they're all the same obvious 'invention'. And once a particular gesture is in common use, it becomes part of the 'language' of dealing with touchscreen devices. Same applies to 'pinch to zoom'.

    These standard vocabulary 'words' of touchscreen interaction are the exact equivalent of the universal 'walk' symbol or the stop sign, or the location of the gas a brake pedals in a car. For modern life to work, we have to agree on common standards. If you start granting monopolies on those things, there is chaos. If you deem these things worthy of patent protection, then they need to be FRAND patents. Perversely, however, the standards required to actually make a phone call on a cellphone are FRAND, but the trivial standard on how to interact with the device are not. So you have Apple trying to make a deal with Motorola on the standards that allow them to make a cellphone in the first place, while reserving for themselves the standards on how to unlock a cellphone display. This is insane.

  • by d'baba (1134261) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @07:28PM (#42049391)

    ... What, exactly, makes slide-to-unlock 'obvious', other than the fact that someone else did it?

    The slide latch on my front door makes it obvious.

  • by celle (906675) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @08:31PM (#42049961)

    "What, exactly, makes slide-to-unlock 'obvious',"

          Londo Molari on Babylon5. What do you think he was doing sliding his finger across the top of his monitor before accessing it? Slide to unlock. He wasn't the only one. An idea spread by a widely viewed(at least by the tech world) TV show from 1992 and in syndication ever since does away with the non-obvious. The idea was already public therefore unpatentable. Let's not forget slide functions have been in touch screens for several decades or even about the actual physical slide-locks that have been around for centuries.

Sigmund Freud is alleged to have said that in the last analysis the entire field of psychology may reduce to biological electrochemistry.

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