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US Patent Office Seeks Aid To Spot Bogus Patent Claims 167

First time accepted submitter startling writes "Members of the public are being asked by the US Patent Office to help weed out bogus patent applications. It wants the public to contribute to a website that will spot applications for patents on technologies that have already been invented. The website, called Ask Patents, will be run by US firm Stack Exchange that has a track record of operating Q&A websites."
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US Patent Office Seeks Aid To Spot Bogus Patent Claims

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  • by Impy the Impiuos Imp ( 442658 ) on Monday September 24, 2012 @08:58AM (#41435585) Journal

    Alert! Alert! Alert! Warning! Danger! Launch all lobbyists!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 24, 2012 @09:01AM (#41435611)

    Personally, I think nearly all patents issued in the last 20 years are bogus. The entire system is abusive, protects great corporatiins and harms individuals, and should be abolished.

  • by ukemike ( 956477 ) on Monday September 24, 2012 @09:04AM (#41435639) Homepage
    Rectangular with rounded corners is pretty bogus. How about all design patents and all software patents.
  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Monday September 24, 2012 @09:04AM (#41435641) Journal
    Some patent troll claims to have invented a process to crowd source finding invalid patents. They want patent office to agree to license this technology from them for a hefty fee. Though prior art exists for using a large number of people searching documents to find examples of prior art and invalid claims, the troll claims innovative new original work in using the "internet" to do the search. As everyone knows, even if people have been doing something for ages, if you stick in the phrase, "using internet" it suddenly becomes new, original and innovative.
  • by Sarten-X ( 1102295 ) on Monday September 24, 2012 @09:11AM (#41435721) Homepage

    Congratulations on your fourth-grade reading level. You've demonstrated the ability to read a headline, but not an actual patent.

    The Google patent in question covers a particular method of managing multiple personas. I, for example, could have a persona of "Sarten-X", which I could use for my programming and other online dealings, and "John Smith", which I use for my professional and audio work. When someone interacts with me on a social network, they can pick which profile they're interacting with.

    The patent does not broadly cover "anonymity" in general, so other companies can allow anonymous access.

  • Ooh An Aid? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Monday September 24, 2012 @09:13AM (#41435733) Homepage Journal
    Do you mean, like, READING them? You know, BEFORE they break out that rubber stamp?
  • by O422 ( 2737869 ) on Monday September 24, 2012 @09:14AM (#41435741)
    That method is clearly obvious. All it does it give the option to use pseudonym instead of your real name, for example with a dropdown list before you submit post. This means Facebook is not allowed to offer same kind of anonymity for users, nor is any other social network.
  • by 3seas ( 184403 ) on Monday September 24, 2012 @09:19AM (#41435785) Homepage Journal

    Software is not of patent-able subject matter.

    Of the things that universally agreed cannot be patented:
    Abstract ideas,
    Physical Phenomenon.
    Natural Law.
    Because they cannot be enforced
    and out of these comes mathematical algorithms as a forth.

    All these together describe software and there is more
    see []

  • Ob. Open Letter (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tastecicles ( 1153671 ) on Monday September 24, 2012 @09:22AM (#41435815)

    Dear United States Patents and Trademarks Office,

    It has come to my attention that your organisation has resorted to begging for free work from the Public in finding and reporting on prior art to already-issued patents. I have an issue with this action, since as an inventor myself I have invested thousands of Dollars in patenting actual technology that has no discovered prior art and in fact has potential to change the lives of everyone who uses it. The issue boils down to the amount of money I have paid to your organisation in fees with my patent applications, on the understanding that you yourselves employ staff to perform patent searches and research into prior art on patent applications; indeed, a small proportion of my applications have been rejected due to prior art that I either did not consider relevant or I missed and you informed me that it did in fact exist. That is a system which works.

    And now you're asking the public to carry out this work for nothing? Is this overflow for the sheer number of patents that are disputed in courts up and down the country? Or are you laying off staff and diverting that workload that you should be paying staff to do in order for your executive board to pocket the fees in massive bonuses and now granting every application that hits your inbox? Frankly I think you should be watching patent cases and automatically invalidating those which are found to be without merit in such disputes.


    Disgruntled inventors everywhere.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 24, 2012 @09:28AM (#41435891)

    This is a problem with the standards, not the patents. The real solution is to stop creating standards that rely on patented technology. That's far easier than getting rid of software patents.

  • by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <eldavojohn AT gmail DOT com> on Monday September 24, 2012 @09:40AM (#41435965) Journal

    The problem here is that since Google has been awarded this patent, then other companies like Facebook or any other website CANNOT offer anonymity!

    That's absolutely false. One of the primary purposes of the patent systems is to identify areas of "innovation" very precisely so that people can license these ideas. There is the 'carrot' way of doing this whereby you would approach Google and ask them how much they want for you to license a patent and, since there's nothing forcing Google to license those ideas, the alternative is "stick licensing []." So if Facebook wanted to use anonymity in this specific way, the courts would need to determine how much damage this did to Google. I really can't see anyone in their right mind claiming much in damages in that situation. At that point both companies should agree on some form of licensing based on what damages the court found.

    Anonymity itself cannot be patented since the concept is very very old. So Facebook would be free to invent an alternative way to offer its users anonymity than the very specific way presented by Google. Your jump from Google's patent to generic anonymity shows that you do not understand then intense and rigorous legalese that patents must follow. That demonstration is another issue entirely (and the biggest blocker to Stack Exchange's proposal).

    If you read the above as a defense of patents, you're wrong. I'm trying to help you understand that patents are bad but hyperbole doesn't help anyone when they're trying to make the system better. I don't want a world where we have no intellectual property laws and ideas are stolen wholesale ... however I also don't like what software patents are doing today and I feel like we need to find a better approach to this complicated problem.

Don't tell me how hard you work. Tell me how much you get done. -- James J. Ling