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Government Patents Your Rights Online

Senate Passes Landmark Patent Reform Bill 362

inkscapee writes "The US Senate is congratulating itself for passing a 'landmark' piece of patent reform legislation. Some key elements are 'first to file' instead of first to invent, and ending fee diversion, which means fees paid to the Patent Office will actually fund the Patent Office. Curiously, this practice has resulted in a backlog of 700,000 patent applications. The House is reportedly working on a similar bill, and soon harmony and rationality will triumph."
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Senate Passes Landmark Patent Reform Bill

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  • wait (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CSFFlame ( 761318 ) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @03:34PM (#35433964)
    Isn't first to file REALLY bad? It helps patent trolls doesn't it?
  • Re:wait (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Gumshoe ( 191490 ) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @03:41PM (#35434066) Journal

    Isn't first to file REALLY bad? It helps patent trolls doesn't it?

    Yes. It's a disaster. In effect if you invent something you now have to patent it or possibly suffer the consequences from a patent troll. It's a money spinner for the patent office if nothing else.

  • Reform? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @03:41PM (#35434082)

    There's nothing reformatory about this bill. The patent trolls and lawyers are well pleased.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @03:45PM (#35434146)

    I don't know much about the new legislation, but considering that the provision in current law, that "... all patents to be "novel" and "nonobvious"." has been frequently ignored, I'm not sure the specific context you mention would be the limiting factor in practice.

  • by Drakkenmensch ( 1255800 ) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @03:46PM (#35434164)

    Remember, the law requires all patents to be "novel" and "nonobvious".

    What will become of the dozens of geniuses who patent laser pointers as "cat exercise systems"?

  • by Cyberax ( 705495 ) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @03:47PM (#35434190)

    This isn't true. A prior art will still cause an application to be denied under 35 USC 102. This means that if any sort of prior art is published (i.e. available to the public) that would anticipate or render an application invalid, it would still operate to render the application unpatentable.

    Yeah, sure. Like USPTO concerns itself with prior art searches. Or like you're going to waste hundreds thousands of dollars in multi-year lawsuits if a patent troll approaches you with 'an offer you can't refuse'.

  • by rritterson ( 588983 ) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @03:52PM (#35434274)

    Other comments have taken to clearing up some of the misconceptions regarding first-to-file versus first-to-invent so I won't duplicate them. However, one thing not yet pointed out is that the vast (VAST) majority of the rest of the world uses a first-to-file system.

    By switching our system, it reduces the burden on an inventor (and thus the legal cost) of obtaining a world wide patent as the systems become closer to the same. And note that Europe has not considered switching to first-to-invent as a way to combat patent trolls, which says something about how much the USA switching will help/hurt trolls.

  • by Waffle Iron ( 339739 ) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @03:54PM (#35434298)

    Backlog, schmaklog. The real reform we need would be to reduce the number of patents issued by orders of magnitude. The bar for patentability should be raised from "not blatantly obvious to below-average freshman engineer" to "that's freakin' genius". That would simplify things for everybody, eliminate most of the huge burdens on society involved with accounting for tens of millions of extant patent claims, while still ensuring that people with genuine Big Ideas get rewarded.

    IMO, it would be an improvement to make the patent system a reality show like The Apprentice or American Idol. Allocate something like 100 possible patents each year to each field of industry, then have juries (not bureaucrats) review all of the applicants in rounds, make the would-be idea monopolists defend their claims in public. Keep voting applications off the island until the few truly worthy patent candidates still stand.

  • by billstewart ( 78916 ) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @04:08PM (#35434512) Journal

    One big difference between the First-to-File system and First-to-Invent is that with First-to-Invent, you can publish your invention and then file the patent within a year of publishing it, while it's very difficult to do that with first-to-file. I'm not sure how important that is in practice; one major impact it had in the US was the RSA patent and other patents that were affected by another US quirk, which is that the military can declare your patent application to be classified and prevent publication (nearly forever), and Publish-then-Patent made it possible for R, S, and A to get their work out.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @04:15PM (#35434596)

    Old system:
    I invent something, somebody catches wind of it and puts in a patent application, then I send in a patent application showing I've been working on it for longer. I get a patent.

    New system
    I invent something, somebody catches wind of it and puts in a patent application, then I send in a patent application showing I've been working on it for longer. They get a patent because they filed first and I can't afford to take them to court to get it reversed. I lose. Or I do have enough money, they lose the patent and now NOBODY has a patent. I needed patent protection so I could license out my product. I still lose.

  • Re:wait (Score:5, Insightful)

    by IP_Troll ( 1097511 ) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @04:21PM (#35434662)
    First to file encourages people to file for patents sooner rather than waiting for someone else to file and cutting them off with a first to invent claim.

    First to file doesn't favor patent trolls, they can't patent the invention if someone else was using it publicly and didn't bother to patent it.

    If anything it cuts off patent trolls because they can't keep inventions a secret waiting for someone else to file a patent, and then usurp that patent from the original filer.
  • Re:Ha (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Atrox666 ( 957601 ) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @04:37PM (#35434886)

    I invent things that could be used to cause harm. Sharing this technology with a murderous criminal organization like the US government would be immoral. Should I have no right to my own work?
    The people who invent things should be rewarded, right now it is corporate parasites that get rewarded all too often and all too much.
    I also don't feel like paying war criminals for the rights to my own work.
    Forcing people to pay to not be ripped off is a protection racket and should be considered a crime like any other kind of theft.

  • by Jane Q. Public ( 1010737 ) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @05:49PM (#35435850)
    The fact that others use an inferior system is not a valid argument for changing ours.
  • by Bruce Perens ( 3872 ) <bruce@perens.com> on Thursday March 10, 2011 @03:01AM (#35439938) Homepage Journal

    Yes, but that's perjuring themselves to the court rather than the patent office, and judges are very much more likely to bring perjury charges and the peril to the perjurer is substantial. Also, it puts the burden of proof on the patent holder. And the patent holder would have to show that the material was not published, but was made available to that particular party in some way.

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