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Lawyer Loses It In Letter To Patent Office 342

bizwriter writes "Nobody would ever say that the world of patent law is a roller coaster of excitement but every now and then something interesting happens. Take this attorney who was angry over a patent examiner's rejection of his client's application. Here are a few snippets from the lawyers letter to the examiner: 'Are you drunk? No, seriously... are you drinking scotch and whiskey with a side of crack cocaine while you "examine" patent applications? (Heavy emphasis on the quotes.) Do you just mail merge rejection letters from your home? Is that what taxpayers are getting in exchange for your services? Have you even read the patent application? I'm curious. Because you either haven't read the patent application or are... (I don't want to say the "R" word) "Special."....Your job is not a joke, but you are turning it into a regular three ring circus. If you can't motivate yourself to take your job seriously, then you need to quit and let someone else take over what that actually wants to do the job right.'"
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Lawyer Loses It In Letter To Patent Office

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  • by Burb ( 620144 ) on Monday April 29, 2013 @09:48AM (#43580143)

    Of course! Insulting the US patent office is a known technique to guarantee your submission will be calmly and objectively reviewed. Do it now.

  • by etash ( 1907284 ) on Monday April 29, 2013 @09:48AM (#43580145)
    would react. Seriously, who these lawyers think they are ? God incarnate ?
    • by Dins ( 2538550 ) on Monday April 29, 2013 @10:12AM (#43580373)
      My 15 year old is considerably more mature than that.
    • We are Reagans children!! We are the Masters of the Universe!!

      Uncle Reagan promised us money! Why is the Government getting in our way!??! This Dysfunctional world is our God given Birthright!!

    • by Daemonik ( 171801 ) on Monday April 29, 2013 @10:32AM (#43580565) Homepage

      It's not just lawyers. I had a telemarketer call me once at work to pitch some ridiculous SEO 'get on the front page of Google' service, and when he figured out that I wasn't listening to him he just went into a rant about how unprofessional "I" was and how if I worked for him he'd fire me. I was laughing my ass off when I hung up on the idiot.

      • If you worked for him, he would be glad you didn't waste time listening to a telemarketer call. I would find it hard to resist the bait to argue that point.

    • Seriously, who these PATENT EXAMINERS think they are ? God incarnate ?

      ANSWER: Yes!

      I had a valuable patent rejected because the patent examiner said a straight spline item in my product was a helical spiral and therefore was prior art like all other screw threads.

      I didn't ask my patent attorney to yell at them, but nothing he could do including a personal call resulted in the examiner backing off their erroneous position. I just had to give up.

  • by Dr_Barnowl ( 709838 ) on Monday April 29, 2013 @09:49AM (#43580153)

    It would amusing to pick it apart and see how much prior art and how many ridiculous claims it contained.

    • I want to see what the actual patent rejection contained that would make a lawyer assume someone was drunk and hit "mail merge" with another letter.
      • by rioki ( 1328185 ) on Monday April 29, 2013 @10:31AM (#43580547) Homepage

        Two links from the summary: []

        It contains the letter and an excerpt of the patent application. This is a case of the USPTO doing it's job.

        • by guttentag ( 313541 ) on Monday April 29, 2013 @10:41AM (#43580679) Journal
          Here's the patent application (can't link directly to it, but you can see it here [] after you enter the CAPCHA and the patent number 13/068530:

          Brueske; David November 15, 2012
          Telescoping tripod sprinkler cart


          A Telescoping Tripod Sprinkler Cart comprising a tripod junction unit, a plurality of support members, a sprinkler support assembly, and a telescoping assembly. In some preferred embodiments, the Telescoping Tripod Sprinkler Cart may also include a carriage assembly to enable the portability of the Telescoping Tripod Sprinkler Cart.

          Inventors: Brueske; David; (Olympia, WA)
          Serial No.: 068530
          Series Code: 13
          Filed: May 12, 2011
          Current U.S. Class: 239/722
          Class at Publication: 239/722
          International Class: B05B 3/00 20060101 B05B003/00


          1. A Telescoping Tripod Sprinkler Cart comprising a tripod junction unit, a plurality of support members, a sprinkler support assembly, and a telescoping assembly; the tripod junction unit comprises a first leg, and a second leg, and a hose conduit; the plurality of support members are sized to mate with the legs; the legs comprise a detent orifice sized to mate with a detent on a support member; the support members comprise a detent for the purpose of fastening the support member to the tripod junction; the sprinkler support assembly is disposed upon the hose conduit of the tripod junction.

          2. The Telescoping Tripod Sprinkler Cart of claim 1 further comprising a carriage assembly; the carriage assembly comprises an axle, an axle housing, a pair of wheels, and a pair of struts.



          [0001] The present invention is in the area of lawn sprinklers, and more particularly pertains to an apparatus for irrigation.


          [0002] One of the most common chores for a homeowner to address is watering or irrigating a lawn. While some people may use a simple lawn hose to manually irrigate their lawns, most people use various irrigation systems. These irrigation systems can be used to cover large swaths of landscape quickly and efficiently.

          [0003] However, the problem with sprinkler systems is their relative high cost and attendant installation. Their relative high cost can stem in large part from the installation thereof. Effective installation requires that underground tunnels or troughs be dug. In many instances, these distances can exceed 50 yards in length. As a consequence, this installation can require a substantial amount of back-breaking work.

          [0004] Therefore, what is clearly needed in the art is an apparatus which enables someone to irrigate a large lawn, orchard, or garden and cover a large diameter of space.


          [0005] It is an object of the present invention to provide an apparatus to elevate an irrigation sprinkler to increase the surface area to be covered. By manually adjusting the height of the sprinkler head above ground, a person will be enabled to cover wide areas of lawn, landscape, gardens, orchards, or other areas where constant irrigation is required.

          [0006] It is an object of the present invention to provide a portable apparatus with pneumatic wheels to place an elevated tripod sprinkler cart in its desired destination. Oftentimes, long hoses can become heavy, and with the wheels, the towing thereof can be made substantially easier.


          [0007] FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a preferred embodiment of the present invention.

          [0008] FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a preferred embodiment of the present invention.

          [0009] FIG. 3 is a perspective view of a preferred embodiment of the present invention.

          [0010] FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a preferred embodiment of the present invention.

          • Oops, almost forgot the best part from the USPTO:

            Attorney/Agent Information

            P.O. Box 6731
            Santa Maria CA 93454
            Reg # 53565

            Now you know who not to use to file your patents.

    • by alen ( 225700 )

      its a telescoping tripod sprinkler cart, google it. lots of them. don't know how novel this guy's invention was but the idea is not new

    • by alen ( 225700 ) on Monday April 29, 2013 @09:56AM (#43580217);jsessionid=01F66ADD5B77B6F5B576659888D85D1B []

      here you go. products on the market look just like this

      • by Weezul ( 52464 )

        Omg wow! Yeah that product already exists. I've seen em' used in profesional landscaping, although not at houses, well you only need wheels if the sprinkler is heavy. It's a trivial invention, but an old patent application form 1977 does exactly the same thing. I suppose the telescoping business might be new, but what the hell is the point in making it telescoping?

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Telescoping is useful for a portable device. It allows you to use it in between bushes to shoot over them. I have a few spots like that around my house. Normally you'll want the head low to not create a central dead-spot, but when that area might be something else already (e.g. non-grass ornamental shrubs, mulch, shells) a higher spray is desired, a telescopic function on a portable device is a boon. The benefit of a portable device is that you can use it to cover just the area(s) you need without having to

      • by kryliss ( 72493 )

        Such as this one.

        But wait, this one goes to 11!!

    • As usual, the better article is not the one linked to in TFA, but in a deeper link: []

      Has a picture. Looks like a sprinkler on a tripod and you can raise or lower the sprinkler head. Somehow I'm guessing this is not the first such sprinkler.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 29, 2013 @09:57AM (#43580245)

      The clever bit, you see, is that you film it. And then you watch it ... backwards!

      Wonderful way to relax.

    • by steelfood ( 895457 ) on Monday April 29, 2013 @10:14AM (#43580393)

      For starters, he mentioned taxpayers in the letter.

      The patent office, like the postal service, is self-funded. Taxpayers don't pay a dime to these people. In fact, a part of the money the patent office brought in used to go back into the bigger federal budget to fund other things.

      I'm highly suspicious that this is an actual patent lawyer.

    • Indeed. My suspicion is that the patent application was so bad that there was no choice but to reject it. I "hope" this is a case of a patent examiner actually doing his job properly which includes rejecting bad patents. I suspect this is a case of lawyers submitting garbage and having it approved on the basis that it is too complicated for the patent examiner to understand.

  • *grabs popcorn and waits for rebuttal letter* Considering the rates of acceptance is going up, I think the problem with the patent "industry" is the expectation that any application should just get accepted and dealt with in courts later.
  • I completely agree with him in regards to how the patent office has been operating as of late. Although his numerous references to retards and special olympics is probably not going to win him any favor with the readers. In any case, I found the letter to be an amusing Monday morning anecdote.
    • by Nadaka ( 224565 )

      They are being retarded, but not because they are denying so many legitimate innovations, but because they are approving so many illegitimate non-innovations.

  • by udachny ( 2454394 ) on Monday April 29, 2013 @09:52AM (#43580183) Journal

    A tripod sprinkler. Seriously, a tripod sprinkler with telescopic legs.

    I agree with the patent office worker in this case, maybe the lawyer should try and patent a method of getting a patent application rejected, consisting of plurality of idiotic patent application and an angry letter by the said lawyer to the patent office.

  • by Chris Mattern ( 191822 ) on Monday April 29, 2013 @09:54AM (#43580191)

    Guess who's never getting a patent approved again, *ever*?

  • by doas777 ( 1138627 ) on Monday April 29, 2013 @09:57AM (#43580223)
    with all the horrible patents coming around today, automatically rejecting everything would be a boon for society in general.
  • I am sure the typical patent examiner can say the same thing about more than one patent lawyer.
  • by Urban Garlic ( 447282 ) on Monday April 29, 2013 @10:01AM (#43580289)

    Seriously, he's a lawyer, in what particular does he think the rejection is wrong?

      The nearest thing to a substantive accusation is that the examiner is simply rejecting the application because he's lazy and that's easy. But it's my understanding that, in fact, patent examiners face a lot of pressure to approve applications, which is faster and easier than rejection, because it takes less effort to justify approval, and because approvals don't generally get appealed by the applicant. So while I am sure laziness afflicts patent examiners from time to time, it's not obvious that this is an example.

    As for "doing his job", his job is not to approve applications, it's to examine them and make a determination. Rejection is one possible outcome, and is not by itself proof that the job wasn't done.

    So, yeah, faceless bureaucrats are lazy and stupid, ha ha. Tell me again what problem you solved by making this assertion?

  • by phorm ( 591458 ) on Monday April 29, 2013 @10:06AM (#43580333) Journal

    Strange, somehow I would have expected such a rant after seeing some of the idiotics patents that have been approved. It's somehow even more disheartening to find that the rant is in regards to an apparently non-unique patent being rejected (as it should be).

  • entirely possible. For the last several years, the U.S. Patent Office has been moving to a distributed model where comparatively few patent examiners live in the D.C. area except during their initial training period. I know two patent examiners, and both live in Ohio. In any case, this text-hissy-fit likely did no favors for the lawyer or their client.
  • Soon to be followed by Rebecca Martinson / Patent lawyer sex tape.

    Do you realize that these two people could.... breed?

  • Fake Story (Score:5, Funny)

    by MyLongNickName ( 822545 ) on Monday April 29, 2013 @10:16AM (#43580405) Journal

    I am amazed at how many Slashdotters fell for this story. The part that made it obviously fake was when the patent office rejected an application.Try to be a bit more discerning Slashdot.

    • I would only believe this story if he then got in return an accepted patent for a specific type of "rejection response raging." That would approximately sum up their open application, flip a coin, go watch TV methodology that they appear to use.
  • by sl4shd0rk ( 755837 ) on Monday April 29, 2013 @10:21AM (#43580435)

    If this letter generates enough static around the patent situation (and I tend to agree, in general, with the spirit of the letter) then maybe it was a brilliant ploy on the lawyers part to drag the issues out into prime time news feeds using drama as the winch. Sometimes any exposure to a corrupt problem is better than none at all.

  • Points quota system (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jbeaupre ( 752124 ) on Monday April 29, 2013 @10:27AM (#43580495)

    First rejections are so common there is a theory that examiners are motivated to automatically reject patent applications the first time they review them. The theory goes like this:

    Patent examiners are on a quota point system. They have to accumulate so many points for an acceptable performance rating. They get points for all sorts of activity. But one of the most visible ones is an office action.

    So they could get a point for approving a patent. Do the work, get a point, move on to the next patent.

    But they also get points each time they reject a patent. Naturally the inventor will file a response to the rejection. The examiner can now earn another point by responding to a patent he or she has already invested time reviewing and is familiar with.

    This can go on several times until a statutory limit requires a final decision. Once they approve a patent or give a final rejection, the stream of points for that file ends.

    So there is an incentive to find a trivial reason for initial rejection, especially if there is a chance it can be overcome. That just leads to a chance for a second rejection.

    I don't know how true the theory is, but if you're trying to explain to yourself why you got a dumb rejection, it makes as much sense as anything else.

    • Given that the patent office is self-funded, and rejections only make more time-consuming work, it'd be silly for some Machiavellian Patent Office executive to hand out incentives for rejecting patents.

      • by Tackhead ( 54550 )

        Given that the patent office is self-funded, and rejections only make more time-consuming work, it'd be silly for some Machiavellian Patent Office executive to hand out incentives for rejecting patents.

        Au contraire. Given that the patent office is self-funded, and rejections only generate more filing fees, it'd be Machiavellian for some silly Patent Office executive to hand out incentives for rejecting patents.

    • Your theory makes no sense because the patent office gets more money when they grant a patent than when you simply file. They are motivated to grant patents.

    • That strategy would work if the Patent office didn't have a humungous backlog. But it does, so there are always more patents to process (and points to earn).

      According to what I've read the problem is currently that the backlog is causing the Patent Office to approve patents too easily, reducing the quality of the patent.

      No, my experience as a patent holder is that the patent process is one of negotiation. The first filing is make overly broad in order to see what you can get away with. When it's rejected yo

    • Clearly, you don't know how the count system works at the USPTO. Here's how it works:

      For each case, you get a total of two counts. You get 1.25 counts for the first action on the merits in the case, which can be a non-final rejection or an allowance. You get 0.25 counts for an action that closes prosecution (which can be a final rejection or an allowance). And you get the remaining 0.5 counts when the case is disposed of (which can be from an abandonment, from writing an answer to an appeal brief, from

  • You know, if the patent office doesn't like it, why don't they just grant the next patent they see for "using words".

  • From the lawyer's letter:

    Since when did the USPTO become a post World War II jobs program? What's the point of hiring 2,000 additional examiners when 2,000 rubber stamps would suffice just fine?

    He has a point - during 2012, 89% of all US patent applications were granted, according to a University of Richmond School of Law study.

    “It is a fool's prerogative to utter truths that no one else will speak.” - Neil Gaiman

  • Chances are the patent application was so full of ambiguous legal gobbledygook that it would take someone on crack, or some strong mind-altering drug, to even begin to try and make sense of it.

    But I think the problem is that the patent office has been slammed with just accepting everyone's bullshit that now they are probably rejecting everything out of spite.

  • by JDG1980 ( 2438906 ) on Monday April 29, 2013 @12:15PM (#43581557)

    There's an old legal saying that if the facts are against you, you should hammer the law; if the law is against you, you should hammer the facts; and if both are against you, you should hammer on the table. Since this guy doesn't cite any particular laws or facts to defend his position, he's apparently resorting to hammering on the table.

Syntactic sugar causes cancer of the semicolon. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982