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Patents United States

White House Takes Steps Against Patent Trolls 97

Posted by samzenpus
from the patents-under-the-bridge dept.
itwbennett writes "The Obama administration on Thursday launched a website with information to assist people and businesses targeted in patent lawsuits or receiving patent demand letters. The White House also announced that it would launch a new crowdsourcing initiative focused on identifying prior art (evidence of existing inventions) that the USPTO can use to reject bad patent claims and will expand a USPTO patent examiner technical training program by allowing outside technologists to help with the training."
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White House Takes Steps Against Patent Trolls

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  • by Laxori666 (748529) on Thursday February 20, 2014 @07:13PM (#46300441) Homepage
    You mean something like patents.stackexchange.com [stackexchange.com]?
    • by geekoid (135745)

      Nope. Maybe you should take a look before opening your yap?

      • by Laxori666 (748529) on Thursday February 20, 2014 @07:35PM (#46300601) Homepage
        Why "nope"? Stackexchange seems like a great (crowdsourced) medium for exactly this. Already a patent application has been struck down thanks to prior art discovered via that site [joelonsoftware.com].
      • Nope. Maybe you should take a look before opening your yap?

        Kindly put down your ideological/political biases for a moment... as sibling mentioned, the site is a perfect analog for what Obama is proposing.

        From what I see, I find it strange that the President would have his staff put out a website, instead of, you know, trying to talk to the Senate about putting something forward to rectify the patent mess. After all, his party does dominate the Senate side of Congress, and I bet it wouldn't be that hard to get folks from among the opposition to join in. What, you as

        • by flyneye (84093)

          I see your point, but I gotta agree with others, given the success of the Healthcare website or the pockmark of the petition website, I don't hold out much hope for a government organized anything. The man has been in office 5+ years, if he is successful in this, it will only be the second thing he has EVER done that makes a desireable difference for the people. Getting off the ridiculous Marijuana mantra would be the first. At least we can start keeping dangerous offenders IN prison instead of putting them

    • by slew (2918) on Thursday February 20, 2014 @08:14PM (#46300835)

      Of course the USPTO is aware of this as mentioned in their 2012 press release [uspto.gov]...

      Here's an excerpt from the WH press release...

      Today, the USPTO is announcing that it is exploring a series of measures to make it easier for the public to provide information about relevant prior art in patent applications, including by refining its third-party submission program, exploring other ways for the public to submit prior art to the agency, and updating its guidance and training to empower examiners to more effectively use crowd-sourced prior art.

      The mere collection of this information, although important, is not what is being addressed here. The USPTO has a complex procedure in place to insert 3rd party information into a patent file for consideration by the examiner. Basically you can only submit other patents or papers (no explanations, analysis, comments, instructions, protest or wild-ass-diatribes allowed). There is also a time window, specific forms and a submission fee and a requirement that the submission be directed at a specific pending patent and limited to 10 items.

      Of course the examiner is somewhat free to consider third party resources (like AskPatents), but they are often leery of doing so as third-party participation in the examining process is strictly regulated by statute. AFAIK, this is because examiners aren't supposed to consider pre-publication protests or other opposition in determining the validity of a patent application, only technical information, not opinions of others (like competitor companies or people with axes to grind).

      Hopefully, this initiative will streamline the process of getting them relevant technical information w/o the inevitable chaff that tends to go along with crowdsourcing sites. Just because a document gets uploaded to a crowdsourcing site doesn't mean it's a legitimate document. Some people have an agenda, ya know...

  • by Greyfox (87712) on Thursday February 20, 2014 @07:36PM (#46300607) Homepage Journal
    On the one hand we have patent trolls, and on the other we have a large fleet of drones armed with hellfire missiles. Seems like somewhere in the middle should be a solution!
    • by geekoid (135745)

      What's wrong with Drones?

      • They do the exact same things that manned aircraft have been doing for 60 years, but because the pilot doesn't sit inside it's a big outrage for some reason.

    • On the one hand we have patent trolls, and on the other we have a large fleet of drones armed with hellfire missiles. Seems like somewhere in the middle should be a solution!

      I'm kind of hoping that a certain courthouse in East Texas is located in that middle ground... and that the missles are nuclear-tipped.

  • by WillAffleckUW (858324) on Thursday February 20, 2014 @07:39PM (#46300623) Homepage Journal

    Originally patents were for 13 years with one renewal by the original Person that applies and copyright was for 17 years with one renewal by the original Person that applies.

    Go back to that and all the problems disappear.

    • by bobbied (2522392)

      Originally patents were for 13 years with one renewal by the original Person that applies and copyright was for 17 years with one renewal by the original Person that applies.

      Go back to that and all the problems disappear.

      Along with most of the patents in the world... But that's your point right?

      • by bjwest (14070)

        Originally patents were for 13 years with one renewal by the original Person that applies and copyright was for 17 years with one renewal by the original Person that applies.

        Go back to that and all the problems disappear.

        Along with most of the patents in the world... But that's your point right?

        And what's your problem with that? Patents and copyrights weren't intended for the perpetual siphoning of money to the corporations and descendants of the inventor/creator. If you can't make back your investment in 13 years with plenty of profit to spare, oh well. If someone else comes along after that, finds a market, and makes a profit - well sucks to be you, you blew it.. If you're living off the royalties of your grandfathers, or even fathers work, then get off your lazy ass and do something yoursel

    • by hey! (33014) on Thursday February 20, 2014 @08:33PM (#46300963) Homepage Journal

      Originally patents were for 13 years with one renewal by the original Person that applies and copyright was for 17 years with one renewal by the original Person that applies.

      Sure, but none of that is actually in the Constitution. Article 1, Section 8 empowers Congress to secure exculsive rights to inventors "for limited Times[sic]", without stipulating any actual limit. For practical purposes this enables Congress to extend patents and copyrights indefinitely.

      The framers were men of remarkable vision to understand that patents were needed all the way back in 1787, but they weren't supermen or fortune tellers. They did not foresee the rise of corporations to become the dominant force in American society, or the uses they would dream up for the patent system. I doubt they ever imagined anything like a business methods patent, or a design patent, or the notion of Federal trademark law.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        The lived in a time that mega companies like the VoC existed: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dutch_East_India_Company

        The VoC had 50,000 employees and a private army of 10,000. This company was allowed to wage and start wars in name of the Netherlands, including deciding with whom to go to war with.

        Now big companies like IBM has 400,000 employees, but don't forget that the world population has also grown from 1 bil to 6 bil. Which makes the size of IBM in the same order of magnitude of the size of the VoC.

    • Patents are only 20 years now -- if the renewal used to be another 13 years for 26 total, does that mean patent terms have been shortened?
  • They need to do something about Apple and Microsoft...while not "trolls" in the strict definition of the word (since they do actually make things), they are still 2 of the biggest abusers of the system!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 20, 2014 @08:04PM (#46300781)

    http://www.whitehouse.gov/share/patents

  • ...no ban on intuitively obvious software patents? No ban on trivial business process patents? No legal fees to victims winning lawsuits against patent trolls? Sounds like more political theater to me.
  • and stagnating innovaton, say it aint so...

  • It's unfortunate that the USPTO's new director and the White House are not taking aim at patent trolls specifically, but rather trying to deal with them by revamping the criteria for patentability in general. Patent trolls are bad enough that they ought to be treated as a first class problem. Even if it became next to impossible to patent prior art, trolls would still end up getting such patents and prevent companies from building things until they pay up. Maybe something like "You can't file a patent lawsu

  • You know, a few years ago it was kinda "unheard" of that the major corps would go at each other for patent issues, due to a sort of weird MAD scenario. Everyone would cross-license and be done with it. But with the latest rounds of patent cases, you'd think the companies would start hiring small armies of researchers to not only investigate entire portfolios of their competition, but also their competitions' applications for new patents.

  • So they basically went for a "feel good" solution with ZERO teeth that's only purpose is to duplicate functionality in the patent challenge space already fulfilled by other, better run sites that DON'T have to deal with government bullshit and won't fold the second a sufficiently large donation is made?

    Yup. That's pretty much OhBlahBlah's entire presidency in microcosm there.

  • They have the temerity to ask the public to combat the effects of a completely rampant patent system they created themselves?

    In effect, they're telling you "please do the work the patent office should have done in the first place". Real nice.

  • Hey, so they want to make another site just like https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/ [whitehouse.gov] with the same level of support, feedback, and quality of response, correct? /sarcasm>

  • The USPTO does not provide a single link for inventors or companies who have developed and patented technology to defend their rights. Not one. These types of entities deserve some sort of guidance as well.

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