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Patent Office Ramps Up Patent Approvals 101

An anonymous reader writes "With the somewhat disappointing Bilski ruling behind us, people concerned about overly broad patents should be looking at what's going on at the US Patent Office. Due to various other Supreme Court decisions and lots of bad publicity, the USPTO had gone on a 'quality binge' for a few years, rejecting a lot more patents than usual. However, with new leadership, it appears that the USPTO is back to its old tricks and approving a ton of patents (at an unheard of rate) in a misguided attempt to get through the 'backlog.' Get ready for another round of patent lawsuits on patents that never should have been granted."
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Patent Office Ramps Up Patent Approvals

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  • by scosco62 ( 864264 ) * on Friday August 20, 2010 @06:37PM (#33319844) Journal
    You don't have to pick up every rider ---- it's ok to say no, especially when it's in the broader interest to increase the quality and remove the backlog.
  • by causality ( 777677 ) on Friday August 20, 2010 @06:48PM (#33319920)

    I really do hate this, 90% of politicians are lawyers.

    They are an unchecked self-appointing cancer.

    The remedy for this is simple enough. If a patent is found invalid by a court and also should never have been granted according to the USPTO's own rules at that time, then require the federal government to pay the victor all legal expenses incurred + any time off work for court + any travel expenses for court, times three, within 30 days of the official ruling.

    I also believe that anyone found "not guilty" in a criminal case, or who has charges dropped, should be compensated the same way.

    That introduces an element of apoptosis into the self-appointing cancer.

  • by Palestrina ( 715471 ) * on Friday August 20, 2010 @06:57PM (#33319980) Homepage

    In particular, without knowing how many applications were rejected, we don't know whether the USPTO is approving a higher percentage of applications, or whether they have just increased up their processing rates.

    And without knowing the number of patent examiners on staff over time, we don't know whether any increase in processing rates was caused by spending less time on each application (less scrutiny), whether they have hired more examiners, or whether they are using technology to process applications more efficiently.

    Get all those facts, number of examiners, number of applications rejected, etc., and then you might be able to draw some conclusions.

  • by ciaran_o_riordan ( 662132 ) on Friday August 20, 2010 @07:00PM (#33320004) Homepage

    Most patent stories on Slashdot are about silly patents, but raising standards will not solve our problem. Quality is just too hard to judge with something as abstract as software. A reduction of 50% wouldn't solve the fact that MPEG is covered by dozens of patents, and none of the people complaining about silly patents have proposed a way to raise the standards (not to reduce granting by 50%, and not even to reduce it by 1%). Now, we see that granting is still rising. We'll never get quality standards to catch up. The only way to win, and the only clean solution, is to simply cut software out of the list of things that can be patented.

  • Re:USPTO (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Sponge Bath ( 413667 ) on Friday August 20, 2010 @07:02PM (#33320024)

    ...until someone significant gets burned badly

    Consumers and small innovators get burned badly already, but large corporations seeking government protection from competition have a "gentleman's" agreement (defensive portfolios and cross licensing) to not cause each other severe harm. Sometimes you see saber rattling like the Oracle/Google conflict, but that is just theater as they collude on how certain markets will be split between them.

  • NPR story (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 20, 2010 @07:02PM (#33320026)

    NPR had a story about this:

    Which includes this quote: "Each and every one of them represents an idea that could turn
    into a business, a business that could create jobs."

    I think that a lot of people think that patents and getting a patent a good things. They don't know our pain. I already gave them my opinion:

  • by Elektroschock ( 659467 ) on Friday August 20, 2010 @07:06PM (#33320060)

    I mean, by common standards a corporate lawyer of the largest software patents client who becomes head of the USPTO, that simply smells corruption.

    In the United States no one seems to care.

    The patent system is anti-free trade, it should be abolished altogether, it is merely about useless bureaucracy.

  • by uniquename72 ( 1169497 ) on Friday August 20, 2010 @07:16PM (#33320118)

    He thinks that all those 700000 odd patents on backlog represent American jobs that aren't being created

    He doesn't believe that. But "jobs" is the new "terrorism", where if you want funding, you make your case using that as a starting point. The guy's a top-notch beaurocrat, who knows where his bread is buttered.

  • by tool462 ( 677306 ) on Friday August 20, 2010 @07:45PM (#33320316)

    That's what I got out of the NPR interview. He wants to grow his department to get through the backlog of patent applications and trying to sell this growth to Congress and the public as job creation.
    It will create jobs for the new patent examiners he'll need to hire, but I'm not convinced it would do much beyond that.
    As I understand it, date of filing gives you the protection you need if you're confident your idea won't be rejected. No small business owner is going to submit a patent, then wait around three years before trying to bring it to market.

  • by TooMuchToDo ( 882796 ) on Friday August 20, 2010 @08:26PM (#33320560)

    The fees from those rejected patents would come from your patent application fees. Fail.

  • by guytoronto ( 956941 ) on Friday August 20, 2010 @09:10PM (#33320836)
    The patent office should do it like the insurance companies do it. Reject every single application on first submission. Find some detail that is just cause for rejecting it, and stamp a big red X through it.

    The ones that come back modified with more details are the ones that get a serious review.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 21, 2010 @12:08AM (#33321634)

    The result would be that examiners would reject everything, gamble that the applicant doesn't want to waste time and money on an appeal (or would lose anyway), and collect their bonus.

    Everybody wins!

  • by WNight ( 23683 ) on Saturday August 21, 2010 @09:08AM (#33323410) Homepage

    That won't work. Not only is it wrong to abandon our fellow creators simply because we create executable math and they create physical devices, but that approach leaves us divided and vulnerable.

    We need to band together to get rid of patents altogether. They're nothing more than corporate welfare. Like any welfare-mama, America's corporations sit back with their hands out, greedy for public money for something that isn't of value at all. We have patents because proponents have linked them to progress. We simply need to show how they're nothing but welfare, companies refusing to work because handouts are easier, and stop funding the system.

    Patents are a horrible financial idea, costing society far in excess of the benefits they grant to creators, and at that - usually rewarding the "wrong" people. We simply need to force the patents-speed-innovation people to prove their claims.

  • by flajann ( 658201 ) <[ed.xmg] [ta] [llehctim.derf]> on Saturday August 21, 2010 @12:03PM (#33324984) Homepage Journal
    As one who does have a patent to his name, I have thought about this entire patent issue quite a bit.

    The original intent of the patent was to give the lone inventor a monopoly over his invention in order to spur innovation. And it may have served that purpose once. But today, patents have taken on a completely different use -- the leverage for big deep-pocket corporations to beat up on other corporations and obliterate any possible competition from "the little guy", who could not possibly afford patent litigation.

    So, it is my view that patents no longer serve it original intended purpose, and thus should be eliminated. Monsanto patents organisms and genes and uses that to force small farmers to buy their GMO seeds; Microsoft may use patents to beat down startups they deem as a threat, and so on.

    Today, people will innovate whether or not patents exist. And most innovations don't ever see a patent, I think. It's just too expensive to procure a patent -- $5,000 to $10,000 -- and if ever someone -- even another little guy -- violated your patent "rights", you could not afford the litigation, anyway.

    So let's abolish all patents and close down the USPTO!

You know, Callahan's is a peaceable bar, but if you ask that dog what his favorite formatter is, and he says "roff! roff!", well, I'll just have to...