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Patents United States Government Politics

Patent Reform Bill Approved by House Committee 95

Alex Forster pointed us to this PC World story that opens, "The House Committee on the Judiciary approved far-reaching legislation to reform the nation's patent system Wednesday. The Patent Reform Act of 2007 largely reflects the IT sector's lobbying effort to curtail lengthy, expensive patent infringement lawsuits, but Wednesday's committee deliberations centered on finding compromises acceptable to opponents — namely the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, manufacturers, and large research universities — so that the bill could win approval. Committee Chairman John Conyers, D-Mich., described the current patent system as inefficient, bogged down by inappropriate litigation rules, unreliably funded, and resulting in patents of "questionable quality." The bill would make it harder to secure a patent and easier for rivals to challenge one, and it would change how courts determine an infringed patent's value."
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Patent Reform Bill Approved by House Committee

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  • "Far-reaching"? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pieterh ( 196118 ) on Friday July 20, 2007 @07:38AM (#19925129) Homepage
    This bill is a small tweak of the system that cures the worst symptoms but does not fix the disease. It's at best a recognition that the US patent system is not perfect, and at worst a band-aid that will delay real reform.

    There's no substantive changes, no change of the economic incentives that drive specialists to claim every plausible invention in the name of speculative future profits. As long as experts can claim exclusive ownership of the software commons, the patent system is broken, and it'll continue to punish real innovators by creating unpredictable risk.

    Real innovators don't even seek patents. 80% of VC-funded software firms don't claim patents within four years of being funded. [digitalmajority.org] The whole patent system is a fraud, a tax on the consumer, and a blight on high-tech industries. This bill just perpetuates the fraud a little longer.

    What is needed is a total review of what patents are for, why society should grant them, and how this should operate in a post-industrial world. Compare, for example, the trademark system (an industrial-age protection) with the domain name system (proper digital age protection of the same thing), and you see what could be possible.

  • Check out this article [mondaq.com] about how the Supreme Court earlier in the year revived the obviosness standard. This was one of several decisions that went against patent trolls, and leads me to believe that the justices actually read the newspaper. Now if Congress took less money from the trolls, perhaps there would be stronger legislative reform.
  • now first-to-invent? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by PoochieReds ( 4973 ) <jlayton@p[ ]hiereds.net ['ooc' in gap]> on Friday July 20, 2007 @08:27AM (#19925475) Homepage
    Thus spake the article:

    The bill moves the patent system from a "first-to-invent" to a "first-to-file" system, but in another nod to large universities, the committee clarified a grace period on filing patent applications for inventors who disclose or publish inventions in advance of seeking a patent.

    Does this mean that prior art can no longer invalidate a patent if the creator of the prior art never filed for one?
  • Re:"Far-reaching"? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by morgan_greywolf ( 835522 ) on Friday July 20, 2007 @08:29AM (#19925493) Homepage Journal

    What is needed is a total review of what patents are for, why society should grant them, and how this should operate in a post-industrial world. Compare, for example, the trademark system (an industrial-age protection) with the domain name system (proper digital age protection of the same thing), and you see what could be possible.

    Hmmm...what if you had an online database of implemented original inventions, peer-reviewed, of course. Those with truly inventions would then post them in the database. Peers in the industry would review the invention to determine if it was truly original. Laws would prevent implementation of inventions that haven't yet completed the peer-review process -- if it passes the peer-review, the inventor gets the sole right to sell/produce the invention for 5 years. The 'payment' for receiving a patent would be that the inventor would have to participate in the peer-review process for at least 3 other inventions. A registrar, consisting of a panel of 3 trustees and 3 judges would oversee everything to ensure that everyone was playing fair -- violators would be prosecuted.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 20, 2007 @09:11AM (#19925813)
    Maybe they should have lobbied for the removal of software patents instead. Major companies only use them defensively for the most part, and the ones who have a legitimate claim who sue infringers are mostly buried by defensive patents instead.
  • by aneeshm ( 862723 ) on Friday July 20, 2007 @09:14AM (#19925841)
    The current Indian government is a coalition, and the Communist Party of India are one of the major members, without whose support the coalition would collapse.

    Though I am staunchly in favour of the free market, I still must thank the communists for one thing - they made algorithms (mathematical and non mathematical), programs, business methods/models, and software in general unpatentable, by including it in the 2005 Patent Amendments Act.

    Before that, software was patentable in the limited sense of it being a component of hardware - like the microcode of a chip, for example - basically at the point where the differences between hardware and software became a bit blurred. Now, however, it falls under the list of things which are explicitly unpatentable.

    I find it extremely ironic, and a bit sad at the same time, that it is the Communists Party of India which essentially stood up for freedom and a truly freer market.
  • Re:"Far-reaching"? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Yfrwlf ( 998822 ) on Friday July 20, 2007 @09:33AM (#19926019)
    Agreed, and I also find it really amusing when companies mention patents in advertisements. "This product is great, because we're going to charge you more because of our stranglehold on the technology!"? You don't need patents in order to use good ideas.
  • by Dragonslicer ( 991472 ) on Friday July 20, 2007 @10:27AM (#19926643)
    At least the razor is a physical object that might have some amount of research (probably in the materials used) to it. I hear ads on the radio from a bank that rounds all debit card purchases up to the next dollar and transfers the difference into your savings account. At the end of the ad, they say "patent pending". They have actually applied for a patent that covers the combination of basic arithmetic and transferring money between accounts (which most people have been able to do for years, even online or on an automatic schedule). I'm all for a patent system that does what ours was intended to do, but it's getting just a bit ridiculous now.

Honesty is for the most part less profitable than dishonesty. -- Plato