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Court Blocks Controversial New Patent Rules 119

An anonymous reader writes "InformationWeek is reporting that a court in Virginia has issued an injunction against controversial new patent rules that were supposed to go into effect tomorrow. The court granted a motion filed by GlaxoSmithKline, which is suing the US patent office over the issue. Among other things, the new rules would limit the extent to which existing patent applications can be modified. The patent office says the new rules would speed up the patent process, but critics say they hurt inventors."
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Court Blocks Controversial New Patent Rules

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @05:04PM (#21189543)
    Having submitted several patents through my company, I can attest that they need to be rewritten all the time because patent reviewers are idiots. They take a one sentence claim, pick a two 'big' words out it and do a literature search. If those two words appear in any publication remotely related to the field related to your patent, they mark it as prior art.
    • by cromar ( 1103585 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @05:10PM (#21189617)
      That's interesting. You'd think "one click" would have turned up in their search.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        I'll give you an example. If you claim you have discovered a novel way to screen for a cancer, say pancreatic cancer, in a tissue sample using some lab technique, say PCR, the patent clerk is going to hand you back the first published article that mentions pancreatic cancer and PCR, even when the paper is discussing something like a pathway involved pancreatic cancer and PCR is mentioned in the materials and methods section.

        I have had patents rejected in very similar circumstances.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by megaditto ( 982598 )
          Don't you think patenting PCR as a tool to screen for cancer is still insanely broad?

          You really should be trying to patent a sequence of your gene transcript (GATTACATACA...) as it applies to pancreatic cancer, and not the entire PCR technique.

          It's not exactly the breakthrough of the century these days that PCR might be used in some way to screen for cancer, you know.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            I guess my point was that if you refer to common things (to those skilled in the trade) in your claims, you are going to get hit with prior art because the reviewer latches on to those things not understanding what they are. If in your claim you write "for example, pancreatic cancer", they tend to think that is to the focus of the claim when it isn't. The prior art is going to be the thousands of published articles that just happen to mention both those terms.

            Either way, you can take decades old technolog
            • by ppanon ( 16583 )
              Either way, you can take decades old technology and discover novel, patentable ways to use it.
              A number of people would dispute whether that's an appropriate use of the patent system. For drugs that may only be approved by the FDA for a particular use and that need to go through significant additional testing for new uses, it's debatable that those new uses should be patentable to support the costs of the additional testing required by government regulation.

              But with most patentable items it's the creation of
            • by schon ( 31600 )

              you can take decades old technology and discover novel, patentable ways to use it.
              ... on the internet for example?
        • sounds like the real problem here is poor reviewing, and not that the patent itself really needs to be changed. More annoying i would imagine is that after you edit to get around this "stopping point" they finally will bring up the next one.. just a hunch
      • by Surt ( 22457 )
        The obvious key problem being that one is not a very long word. Even click at 5 letters is hardly a big winner for scrabble.
        • by nwssa ( 993577 )
          shouldn't matter, the examiners are assigned fields or categories they are experts in.
      • by Znork ( 31774 )
        Actually, it did. However, Amazon sent in several revised iterations with various unicode variants of letters that sorta look like 'one click', until, eventually, it didnt turn up.

        Think '0ne c1ick'.
    • by DamnStupidElf ( 649844 ) <Fingolfin@linuxmail.org> on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @06:21PM (#21190329)
      Having submitted several patents through my company, I can attest that they need to be rewritten all the time because patent reviewers are idiots. They take a one sentence claim, pick a two 'big' words out it and do a literature search. If those two words appear in any publication remotely related to the field related to your patent, they mark it as prior art.

      Hence the patent attempts for "rotational conveyance devices", whatever those are...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @05:07PM (#21189581)
    All I hear are the cries of patent trolls saying "Won't someone please think of the children^W inventors!"
    • by Jarjarthejedi ( 996957 ) <christianpinch@nOspAm.gmail.com> on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @05:15PM (#21189663) Journal
      It's the number one way to fight for something that the facts tend to be against. If you're on the wrong side of the facts you can't exactly make an Argument from Logos. You may or may not be able to make an argument from Ethos, depending on how well known you are, patent trolls tend to be unknown or disliked, so they can't use that.

      They're left with just Pathos, trying to get people emotionally rallied behind an argument by asking them to think about what effect (insert strawman that's highly unlikely to happen but sounds like what the other side is arguing for) will have on (insert group that looks small and poor, someone whose life depends on the current system).

      It's the same system the RIAA uses, some argue the government does the same thing (I happen to agree), it's the last argument of those unable to argue from reason, as such it's used a lot by groups who are heavily disliked as they have nothing else to turn to.
    • by nwssa ( 993577 )
      Both sides voiced their opinions to the courts and small and independent software groups were victorious today, and large software companies were defeated (for now). Unfortunately the trolls give small companies a bad name in innovation and patents.
      • by dgatwood ( 11270 )

        Unfortunately, anything bad for the trolls is ultimately bad for the consumer. The trolls are what show how broken the patent system is at a fundamental level. Thus, patches that prevent the patent trolls may prevent some of the more egregious bad behavior, but do nothing to fix the underlying problem, making the real victims of the broken patent system essentially powerless to get anything done to fix it.

        Who are the real victims of the patent system as it stands? Innovation, consumer rights, human hea

        • by dgatwood ( 11270 )

          Oh, yeah, and not just AIDS drugs. There have been some rather significant patent disputes causing the potential for life-threatening delays in developing and deploying Smallpox vaccines, Anthrax vaccines, and so on. I almost forgot about the "terror-related" patent issues. :-)

    • The patent office says the new rules would speed up the patent process, but critics say they hurt investors.
      -Rick
  • Please... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by iamacat ( 583406 )
    Name at least one genuine inventor who put in the hard work, personally received at least 10% of license revenues and did not take advantage of other people's work by patenting vaporware and waiting for someone else to build an actual product. Current patent system only benefits large companies by driving startups out of business by requiring prohibitive legal costs to ship any product. Lets cut the crap about benefitting the little guys.
    • Jan Vilcek -> Remicaid.
      • Re:Please... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by iamacat ( 583406 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @05:23PM (#21189747)
        While he certainly financially benefited from his invention, is it really fair to patent something created on taxpayer dime, student tuition, university equipment and probably work of many (post)graduate students who were not in any way compensated for their contributions?
    • Re:Please... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by steveshaw ( 690806 ) <sjshaw@gm a i l . com> on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @05:24PM (#21189761)
      I personally know of dozens of "little guys" for whom the patent system has provided massive benefits. I know because I drafted their patents and helped them with the sale/licensing. Ask most any patent attorney and they will have the same report.

      Please stop believing all the /. FUD regarding patents and IP in general.

      On another note, from the perspective of a patent attorney, these Proposed Rules are a nightmare. This Preliminary Injunction was a great thing, and anybody who has any thought of ever filing a patent application should be glad they've been stopped.

      • Re:Please... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by iamacat ( 583406 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @05:32PM (#21189833)
        Ask most any patent attorney ...

        That's my point about legal costs. Can I afford your services to patent a dozen inventions and then get Microsoft to license one they are infringing on?
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by steveshaw ( 690806 )
          Can you afford not to patent your dozen inventions and watch as you release your product(s) and Microsoft simply incorporates them into their latest product(s) without paying you dime 1? The vast majority of companies will not even look at a product for potential licensing unless patent protection is at least an option. Before you even start negotiating with a company, they are going to want to see that you have either filed one or more patent applications or done a prior art search (bad idea, by the way).

          W

          • Re:Please... (Score:5, Insightful)

            by vertinox ( 846076 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @06:02PM (#21190159)
            Can you afford not to patent your dozen inventions and watch as you release your product(s) and Microsoft simply incorporates them into their latest product(s) without paying you dime 1?

            Not if you don't have enough money to pay for patent lawyers to outlast their patent lawyers. If it is Microsoft we are talking about, I bet they could drag the case out for years without paying a dime while you're burning away my life savings paying a lawyer. You might win, but then they'll keep appealing and try to get you to settle.

            The point of this issue is that when you have that much money to kill you can get your way no matter what.
            • If it is Microsoft we are talking about, I bet they could drag the case out for years without paying a dime while you're burning away my life savings paying a lawyer. You might win, but then they'll keep appealing and try to get you to settle. The point of this issue is that when you have that much money to kill you can get your way no matter what.

              But that isn't limited to Patent law. It's true for all areas of the law, but I can tell you from experience that it isn't as pronounced a problem in Patent law

            • by Tim C ( 15259 )
              The point of this issue is that when you have that much money to kill you can get your way no matter what.

              That doesn't seem to have worked against Eolas yet.

              Generally though I agree; in any non-trivial case, victory often goes to the side with the deepest pockets. That's true of more than just patent disputes though, and is a problem with your legal system, not your patent system.
            • by nwssa ( 993577 )

              Not if you don't have enough money to pay for patent lawyers to outlast their patent lawyers. If it is Microsoft we are talking about, I bet they could drag the case out for years without paying a dime while you're burning away my life savings paying a lawyer. You might win, but then they'll keep appealing and try to get you to settle.

              This is inherent to the american judical system. If you have a valid patent then you have several options:

              • settle out of court (most often best option for both sides anyways)
              • fight them in court
              • admit defeat and abandon

              If you decide to fight them in court then don't forget there are law firms that will work on contingent basis anyways (sure at non-trivial percentage and that's why I suggest option #1 is usually better route). Patents help the smaller guy innovating and improving civilization. Otherw

          • Re:Please... (Score:4, Insightful)

            by rmerry72 ( 934528 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @06:25PM (#21190369) Homepage

            Legal costs are simply part of doing business in a civilized society that uses courts of law to protect rights and enforce standards of conduct. You seem like a smart guy, draft your own patent applications if you can't afford my expertise.

            The fact that an ordinary smart guy can't draft their own patent applications - as you imply - demonstrates the fallacy that this great society is so civilised. If an ordinary "smart" Joe can't file the appropriate paperwork to protect his efforts and concerns of being swamped then I put forward the system has failed.

            The fact that an ordinary nuclear family "needs" a financial advisor just to get them through the hurdles of our financial system in order to get ahead, demonstrates a large failure of our financial system. Think of it as a computer system that needs a large number of sys admins and programmers just to keep the thing running and how poorly designed we all know them to be (how many of them have we bemoaned). Good systems run themselves providing efficiencies of scale with minimal overheads. Civic systems are the same else they are of little good to the little guy.

            Who would own a car if you needed a mechanic to spend an hour a day performing maintainence on it for you and a driver to operate it? Not the ordinary person. Only rich folk and corporations would use them - as they once did in the early days.

            Patent system is the same. If it's harder to file a patent claim then it is to invent new technologies and products then there is little money to be gained from releasing your invention into the wild. That's why I build systems for myself, my family and friends. Somebody else can come up with their own ideas for the rest of humanity.

            • Um, what? Your whole post reads like a non sequitur. I mean, a few hours a year with a professional finance guy or getting a patent lawyer isn't equivalent to an hour a day and a driver for a car. You probably spend more on your car in a year than you would pay for filing a patent, which according to a friend of the family, that is a patent attorney, most of the cost is searching existing patents to make sure it hasn't already been filed.

              I don't understand how your mention of "building systems" is even re
              • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

                by rmerry72 ( 934528 )

                You probably spend more on your car in a year than you would pay for filing a patent.

                I'd bloody well hope so, but then my car is a valuable tool I - and most other people in the free world - use daily to go about our lives. A patent is not.

                I don't understand how your mention of "building systems" is even relevant. It's not that special of an idea. You screw together a few parts, none of those parts are anything you could possibly make on your own.

                It's the KISS principle, mate. Any moron can screw togeth

            • by nwssa ( 993577 )
              Actually any ordinary smart guy can draft their own patent application (or at the very least a Provisional and test the market).

              Patent system is the same. If it's harder to file a patent claim then it is to invent new technologies and products then there is little money to be gained from releasing your invention into the wild.

              Sure there needs to be a balance between protecting the small guy from the big companies that without a patent system would just lie and wait for the truly innovative competitors to emerge and then copy-paste them and release in their own next product version.

            • I'm an engineer, not a lawyer. I drafted a patent application (WO/2007/039764) - the key point is to make sure everything is written as clearly and unambiguously as possible. This is through my employment rather than doing it individually but the principle is the same.

              The problem is that every country has its own patent system, so you need several applications, with different rules for each. For example, in the US and only in the US the applicant can't be a company but instead you have to apply for the pate
            • by torokun ( 148213 )
              Everyone agrees that _excessive_ complexity is a bad thing, but in some cases, complexity is good. You wouldn't argue that all software should be simple enough for the ordinary person to understand the _code_ would you?

              Writing a patent is like coding in many ways. You need to figure out how to describe the important features of an invention with the proper scope, and how to describe the important connections between the elements of the invention. It is not easy for most ordinary people to do something li
              • Everyone agrees that _excessive_ complexity is a bad thing, but in some cases, complexity is good. You wouldn't argue that all software should be simple enough for the ordinary person to understand the _code_ would you?

                A good point and I agree. Excessive is the key word.

                For maintaining software I'd expect a suitably skilled software engineer with enough domain knowledge should be able to make at least small changes to the code base with enough confidence that things won't break. And how many systems nee

            • by imgunby ( 705676 )
              Who would own a car if you needed a mechanic to spend an hour a day performing maintainence on it for you and a driver to operate it? Not the ordinary person. Only rich folk and corporations would use them - as they once did in the early days.

              hahahaha... you've clearly never owned an MG
          • Should I work for free?

            No. Some processes like patent applications, incorporation and taxes feel to the average citizen as they are artificially difficult to the extent the government is using regulation to create a service industry. It's nothing personal, but why should I need a lawyer to tell the government about my invention and ask for the government to issue a patent? Why should I need a lawyer to dispute if a patent is obvious or to invalidate a patent because the patent is not new or novel?

            Abolish th

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Well, let's see... you:

        1) have avoided the question by not naming even one such person/patent as the parent requested

        2) have a huge vested interest, as you depend upon the existing patent system, and your experience in navigating its legalities, to make a living

        Why should we take your entirely unsubstantiated assertion as anything else?
        • Well, let's see...

          1. The identity of my clients is protected by attorney/client privilege; and

          2. I don't practice patent law in my current position, so I don't have a vested interest in it to make a living.

          Any other completely asinine comments you wish to make that have no real relation whatsoever to my original post other than to serve as a pathetic attempt to discredit the messenger?

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward
            "Any other completely asinine comments you wish to make that have no real relation whatsoever to my original post other than to serve as a pathetic attempt to discredit the messenger?"

            Considering how asinine your original post was, and its refusal (which you prolong) to answer the question to which it pretended to reply, you're in no position to feign the high ground.

            As the first poster expressed, the patent system as it exists is primarily to the benefit of the already wealthy. He/she asked for a countere
            • The fact that you have presented yourself as a former patent attorney (in an appeal to authority, hoping it will give your arguments more force) is particularly damning since absolutely nothing in your argument follows from that by necessity -- except, of course, your unsupported and meaningless claim to 'personally know of dozens of "little guys" for whom the patent system has provided massive benefits.'

              You mean except the claim that is both directly relevant to and directly answers the question you accus

      • Re:Please... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @06:10PM (#21190217)

        Please stop believing all the /. FUD regarding patents and IP in general.
        There are plenty of examples where the current system is failing to do its job. That isn't FUD, it's reality. There is something very wrong with the way patents are being issued/approved that makes it far too easy to prevent innovation because of an overly vague patent claim. That of course, is contrary to the purpose of a patent. To give an inventor extra incentive to innovate; this is null and void if an ultra-broad patent claim encompasses all conceivable combinations none of which were discovered by the owner of the patent.
        • There are many more examples of how the patent system worked. We don't trash something because it has failings, regardless of the cries of the Slashdotters. Most of whom, it seems, are interested in trashing the patent system because they like using other people's work for free.
          • There are many more examples of how the patent system worked.

            Only if, as per your own examples, you believe the purpose of the patent system is give to a single individual long term extraordinary rights because he had an idea once. But unfortunately the (US) Constitutional purpose of the patent system is suppose to be to promote innovation which the current system is not just failing miserable at but is actually doing the opposite. I would challenge you that I could either discredit examples you provide where you claimed it served this purpose or provide a counter

        • by Ox0065 ( 1085977 )
          • IP exists to bring knowledge into the public domain, by granting the sharer of knowledge special privileges.
          • Written work is protected be copyright, not patents. I don't see how patenting software is different from patenting the content of an e-book in short-hand (other than that a lawyer/judge probably more readily recognises short-hand as written word)

          Whether or not you agree, given (assuming) the above:

          • getting a patent should be trivial (see, on topic) and
          • getting IP protection for software should i
      • I'm not sure whether most people complaining around here care whether it's the little guys or the big guys reaping the benefits of a broken patent system. I'd be willing to wager good money that if, say, some Joe Schmoe patented something absurd/pointless/obvious and proceeded to sue Microsoft over it, aside from the outliers the majority of /. would come down on the side of Microsoft.

        Pointing out that, "Hey, this little guy made big bucks from the patent system," is something of a non-sequitur from the
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by steveshaw ( 690806 )

          Sorry to be blunt, but realistically as a patent attorney I imagine you're interested in cramming as many patents through the system as you can find clients to charge for them. I would definitely argue that the convenience of patent attorneys and everybody who's got an idea they just really think is great is not something the public should be overly concerned about. There are bigger issues at stake.

          Well, you would be wrong about what I was interested in when I drafted and prosecuted patents, but I don't

          • Actually, I've heard that this would not take pressure off examiners, but just the reverse. Current continuation practice (I lump in RCEs with continuations) effectively give examiners more time to work on a given disclosure since the continuations give the examiner the same two counts plus the benefit of an already developed prosecution history; properly used this enables the examiner to devote more time on the application. I read about one experienced examiner who counts on this and allocates her time to
        • by nwssa ( 993577 )

          I'm not sure whether most people complaining around here care whether it's the little guys or the big guys reaping the benefits of a broken patent system. I'd be willing to wager good money that if, say, some Joe Schmoe patented something absurd/pointless/obvious and proceeded to sue Microsoft over it, aside from the outliers the majority of /. would come down on the side of Microsoft.

          Well for starters you said it yourself "around here". That wraps up the lopsided view held by most slashdotters, I'm sorry but it's the truth - anyone pro-patent is modded down and anti-patent is modded up. The validity or real insightfulness is directly related to the side taken.

          Regarding whether it's the little guys or big guys, which is worse - giving the big companies virtual control (without patent protection for little guy), or giving the small guy a fighting chance (with patent protection)?

      • And what actual benefit (making life better for someone) were these patent designed products to anyone besides the patent holders. Were these patented "pet rocks", or "stuffed elephants" or "stretchy candies".

        You are taking the usual Lawyer position, please don't make my job redundant. If people were actually not selfish and greedy, and of high character what actual use would we have for Lawyers. Could we pretty not reach amicable agreement about everything?
    • by nwssa ( 993577 )
      show me a little guy that without patent protection can develop & market something truly innovative and not be quickly copied-pasted into the next release of a larger company product with the marketing muscle.
    • by stiggle ( 649614 )
      Trevor Baylis (clockwork radio).
      James Dyson (Ballbarrow - wheelbarrow with a ball as the front wheel, cyclonic vacuum cleaner).

      Both have developed ideas into products from their own companies after other companies rejected or tried to steal their ideas.

      But they're not American, they are British.
      • by iamacat ( 583406 )
        Ballbarrow sounds legit, but where exactly is innovation in the clockwork radio? It is a trivial combination of two concepts widely used before and any reasonable person would come up with the same design given the task parameters (crank-powered radio, no batteries or capacitors).
    • {snippety quip = "An inventor is someone who "invents" an idea (as in writing fiction), and then "invents" that they are the inventor, and then "invents" lawsuits against anything that comes on the market and is fairly similar.

      Hard work is out."} Obligatory snipety quip {/snippety quip}

      {joke= "Aside from that, I can personally atte... OW! OW! OW! Those laws HURT!"} Obligatory joke {/Joke}

      {sig = "

         
  • by KiahZero ( 610862 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @05:15PM (#21189661)
    http://www.patentlyo.com/patent/2007/10/surprise-pto-co.html [patentlyo.com]

    Interesting that there were no amicus briefs for the Patent Office.
  • by whoever57 ( 658626 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @05:21PM (#21189735) Journal
    One of the tenets of the capitalist system is clear ownership of property. How can one invest if the ownership can be taken away.

    Yet, the current patent system dies exactly this. The abuses that are possible under the current system allow for someone to develop a product and later, through the monopoly granted under the patent system, effectively have that intellectual property taken away.

    The problems are many: submarine patents, the fact that the possible award of punitive damages discourages searches for pre-existing patents, the over-broad patents that may or may not apply. Uncertainty kills investment and the current patent system provides plenty of uncertainty.
    • by schon ( 31600 )

      One of the tenets of the capitalist system is clear ownership of property. How can one invest if the ownership can be taken away.

      Yet, the current patent system dies exactly this.
      So... you're claiming that the current patent system is broken because patents expire, and therefore the Constituion (on which this facet of patent law is based) is wrong?

      Yeah, good luck with that.
    • "Yet, the current patent system dies exactly this. The abuses that are possible under the current system allow for someone to develop a product and later, through the monopoly
      granted under the patent system, effectively have that intellectual property taken away."

      Um, shouldn't that like count as "prior art" or something?

      No, of course not. The court wants your evidence and it wants it now, or else you lose even if you are right. Worse yet, you don't even get to appeal, even if someone else ruined your case
  • I'm curious... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by wizardforce ( 1005805 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @05:28PM (#21189791) Journal

    The new rules are intended to speed patent reviews by the chronically understaffed USPTO. Among other things, they limit so-called "continuing applications" through which inventors can modify existing patent applications. Murphy said the new rules would "severely limit the level of patent coverage you can get for an invention" if they are allowed to take effect.
    so basically the argument that is being made is that if company A patents a technology/drug whatever and finds a new use for it they can extend the patent to include that finding? To what end?

    The drug manufacturer contends that it, and other companies that invest heavily in research and development, needs the freedom to broaden their patent claims when new applications for their inventions are discovered.
    so if someone other than them discovers a new application of their drug, who gets the rights to that finding? the company that developed the drug in the first place or the one that made use of it in a compeltely new way?
    • If you're genuinely curious about this, feel free to shoot me an email. The explanation is beyond the scope of a /. post, at least it is for me right now.
    • Re:I'm curious... (Score:4, Informative)

      by Janthkin ( 32289 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @06:04PM (#21190173)
      so basically the argument that is being made is that if company A patents a technology/drug whatever and finds a new use for it they can extend the patent to include that finding? To what end?

      Here's the 10 cent version: continuations are used when:
      a) your inventor comes up with a new way of extending his invention (continuation in part);
      b) you disclosed multiple distinct inventions in the original application, but only filed claims at one of them (continuation);
      c) the patent office is being dense, and you have to argue your claims repeatedly (request for continuing examination); or
      d) the patent office grants some of your claims, and you want to get an issued patent AND continue to argue about the others (continuation).
      • Here's the 10 cent version: continuations are used when: a) your inventor comes up with a new way of extending his invention (continuation in part); b) you disclosed multiple distinct inventions in the original application, but only filed claims at one of them (continuation); c) the patent office is being dense, and you have to argue your claims repeatedly (request for continuing examination); or d) the patent office grants some of your claims, and you want to get an issued patent AND continue to argue abou

      • I am not a lawyer, but my take on this is:

        Here's the 10 cent version: continuations are used when:
        a) your inventor comes up with a new way of extending his invention (continuation in part);

        That sounds to me like it should be a completely new patent application.

        b) you disclosed multiple distinct inventions in the original application, but only filed claims at one of them (continuation);

        That too sounds like you should have to file a new application for the new inventions.

        c) the patent office is being de

        • The problem is there is no limit on the number of continuations or RCE's you can file. Only fees for doing so :) The new rules limited the number of each you could do. Drug companies in particular, are well known for wearing down the patent office by filing continuation after continuation until they get all the claims they want for a particular drug, issued into patents. Hence the reason they are so vehemently against these rules. (It's humorous to read the argument GlaxoSmithKlein made that the "public
        • by Janthkin ( 32289 )

          I am not a lawyer, but my take on this is:

          I am, but (of course) none of this is legal advice; get your own damned lawyer in your own jurisdiction if you want legal advice.

          a) your inventor comes up with a new way of extending his invention (continuation in part);

          That sounds to me like it should be a completely new patent application.

          Can't be, and here's why. If you file an application, your own disclosures in that application can still be used as prior art against you in other applications. Say, for example, I invent the chair. A little later, I realize I can put wheels on my chair. If I didn't file as a continuation in part, my original disclosure of a chair could be used as a portion of a 35 U.S.C. 10

      • this sounds like it's directly to address what guys like lemmelson did. They would create an over broad, but unrealized application, then manipulate the patent later to include what they see other people doing that's only tangent to the original patent. That defeats the purpose of publishing the patent for other people to build from if those future inventions that might be "clean" can be "stolen" when they change the published patent after the fact.
      • e) You come up with a new claim based on technology which is not novel at the time you come up with the claim, but want the benefit of the filing date of your original application.
    • What the hell does how you use something have to do with what it IS? Just because I use the vacuum cleaner I bought for cleaning carpets to clean my car as well doesn't make it a different device.
    • The short answer is that finding a new use for an invention has never meant that the invention itself could be patented for longer. However, a new patent for the method of using the item could be patentable.

      Example that I am dredging up from my (sometimes inaccurate) memory of the MPEP: A shoe polish compound that is well known in the prior art is discovered to have a new use in repelling insects that was not previously known. Since this is an inherent property of the shoe polish the discoverer cannot get
  • The patent office says the new rules would speed up the patent process, but critics say they hurt inventors.

    Inventors? Or just multi-billion-dollar transnational conglomerates?
    • The patent office says the new rules would speed up the patent process, but critics say they hurt inventors.

      Inventors? Or just multi-billion-dollar transnational conglomerates?

      Multi-billion-dollar transnational conglomerates tend to hire a lot of inventors. Some of them do use patents as a key part of their business model [industryweek.com]. It is likely that efforts that undercut such business models would mean that such companies would be less effective at capitalizing on the innovations produced by their inventor

  • From TFA: "The new rules are intended to speed patent reviews by the chronically understaffed (emphasis added) USPTO"

    It's easier said than done, but couldn't they just hire more folks since patent issues are among the hottest in the country?
  • What percentage of patent filers in the last few years were by inventors? 10%? Any intelligent guesses?
    • 100%. That's the law. Only inventors can file patent applications.

      Oh, did you mean "What percentage of patents rights were *assigned* to individual inventors?" Probably a lot less. How many individual inventors received compensation for this patent right assignment beyond their salaries? Somewhat more.

      What, exactly, is your point?

  • ...the fraudulent support for software patents, as software is in no way material of patentable character.

    Once that is done, the patent office will have more time to spend on patent applications that do have patentable material.

    Software is of abstract ideas, natural law and physical phenomenon, and of this a sub set is mathematical algorithms of which all four of these areas are universally considered NON-PATENTABLE!

    see Abstraction Physics [abstractionphysics.net] for the fundamentals.
  • Why oh Why are the courts involved at all?

    As the Constitution clearly enumerates Patents and Copyrights are the exclusive domain of Congress. Ostensibly they can grant patents, take them away, and establish an agency with congressional oversight to regulate the patent process.

    If this isn't a judge specificaly appointed by Congress to Adjudicate the Patent process, I have a hard time believing this injunction is going to last.

    • Why oh Why are the courts involved at all?

      Checks and balances again. The courts are involved because Congress, once again, dropped the goddamn ball.

      You know, when dogs get rabies, becoming irrational and dangerous to humans, they are taken out and shot. Congress may or may not have rabies (although some its members often act like they do) but they have certainly become irrational and dangerous. What are we going to do about them? Shoot votes at them?
    • The Patent Office (executive branch) created rules that were contrary to the laws passed by Congress (legislative branch). The laws passed by Congress (the Administrative Procedure Act) state that the remedy in such a situation is to file suit against the agency (Patent Office) in federal court (judicial branch). The problem here is that the Patent Office overstepped the authority granted to it by Congress. Congress could change the law if it wanted to (and it might, see the Patent Reform Act of 2007), b

  • No wonder (Score:2, Insightful)

    Isn't GlaxoSmithKline the company that patented Prilosec? And then when the FDA would no longer let them charge inflated prices for Prilosec "to cover their development costs", didn't GlaxoSmithKline then repackage Prilosec in purple capsules and re-patent it as Nexium, for which they could in turn charge inflated prices? Gee, why would GSK be concerned about greater patent scrutiny?

Just go with the flow control, roll with the crunches, and, when you get a prompt, type like hell.

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