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US Shutdown Is Good News For Patent Trolls 84

judgecorp writes "It's just a sidebar on the US government shutdown but, while agencies including NASA and NIST are displaying blank websites, the US Patent and Trademark Office is running as normal because its funding is guaranteed by the US Constitution. Thus, patent trolls can continue to file bogus business patents, while the FTC is closed and can't combat them, and the Department of Justice can't handle appeals and enforcement."
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US Shutdown Is Good News For Patent Trolls

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  • PJ? We need you! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by scsirob ( 246572 ) on Thursday October 03, 2013 @03:16AM (#45022781)

    You'd expect a big story about this on Groklaw, with great insights, backgrounds etc. Too bad Pamela closed her site.

    • by Fri13 ( 963421 ) on Thursday October 03, 2013 @04:58AM (#45023047)

      She must have been working for the Government....

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Too bad Pamela closed her site.

      Too bad the NSA shit the bed for so many people, their businesses and our country's reputation.

    • by bloodhawk ( 813939 ) on Thursday October 03, 2013 @06:25AM (#45023273)
      Why would this generate a story, it is just a garbage article. Patents aren't reviewed and granted in days or even weeks, you would be considered to have been kissed on the prick if it was done in months instead of years. filing while the government is shutdown won't make the slightest bit of difference unless you expect this shutdown to run for years and in which case I think patent trolls will be the least of your worries.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 03, 2013 @03:21AM (#45022787)

    It also seems like there are less insightful comments since the shutdown, officers gone fishing?

    • I had no idea some people thought "insightful" (having uncommonly clear perception of what's going on) was the same as "inciteful" (the opposite of peaceful).

  • The article has no proof to back up that Patent Trolls are putting in patents since the Gov shut down. Bullshit article that landed on Slashdot.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Patent Trolls are always putting in patents. This isn't about patent trolls rushing to fill out even more patents now, its about nobody being around to do anything about it.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 03, 2013 @04:14AM (#45022955)

        It takes years to get a patent out of the USPTO, so filing an application now won't make a lick of difference unless the shutdown lasts well past the next election. Plus, the FTC and the DOJ have never had any involvement with getting patents from the USPTO. Only the DoD does (because the DoD can issue secrecy orders that keep a patent application a secret.)

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward


          The reason the Patent Office is open is because they are self-funding not because it's funding is guaranteed. It, also, makes money for the government. There however is only a limited amount of time they can remain open until reserve funds run out and it shuts down.

  • don't tell them that, now they know they can extort more money
  • With the FTC closed, can patent trolls prevent the importation of electronics from the Chinese companies contracted to produce them for American companies supposedly infringing on lame software-related patents?

  • Are the courts open? If not, then anyone who wants to violate a patent can do so w/ impunity, since the trolls can't then file lawsuits - where will they file it?

    Also, how does one 'constitutionally fund' something if the money is out?

  • If any other bunch of zealots, domestic or foreign, created enough chaos to shut down significant amounts of the US Federal Government, they'd be labelled as terrorists, hunted down and shot.

    Why not the Members of the House that have done the same?

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The Members of the House were elected by the People. The People are the Real Terrorists(tm).

    • by TapeCutter ( 624760 ) on Thursday October 03, 2013 @08:35AM (#45023671) Journal
      In the Westminster system the same dead locked funding scenario is called a "double dissolution". It's a constitutional trigger for a general election, the theory being that if the government of the day can't get their agenda funded by a hostile senate, then we pick a new government/senate that can at least keep the fucking lights on. What's the point of electing a bunch of public servants if they stubbornly insist on derailing the delivery of public services?
      • by Guppy06 ( 410832 )

        In the Westminster system... pick a new government/senate

        In Westminster, the "senate" is chosen exclusively by Betty Windsor.

        • In the UK, yeah, the House of Lords is a pretty closed house, but the Westminster system is used in other places too. In Australia we use it, and our senators are voted in every second election (twice the term length of the house.)

        • Your incorrect, the Queen does not pick them, she simply rubber stamps their appointment, in the same way she rubber stamps a general election and a new parliment. Tell me, when was the last time the Queen refused to use that stamp, when did she actually "choose" to do anything other than her cerimonial duties? Aside from that, I was talking about Australlia where senators are elected rather than appointed by the government of the day.

          One of the very few exception to the monarchy staying "hands off" the
      • What a wonderful self perpetuation system on a path to total tyranny. Perhaps a shutdown is a good thing, Perhaps we can keep it shut down for a year or two and find out that things actually get better.

      • "public servants"... that's rich. They stopped serving us on the west side of the Atlantic long ago.

    • It's legitimate (Score:5, Interesting)

      by fritsd ( 924429 ) on Thursday October 03, 2013 @08:42AM (#45023699) Journal
      In other democracies, it's an uncommon but perfectly legitimate thing that a member of parliament can write a motion to send the government home.

      It's called a "Vote of No Confidence". *IF* that vote passes, the government falls.

      The reason why it's uncommon is as follows: that MP or political party is saying "We must disregard the will of the majority of the people who elected this government. we don't care about our jobs and the jobs of the other parliamentarians we currently have. This issue is so important that we are willing to overrule everything to ensure the government can't enact this law: "over our dead bodies". If that means that the people won't trust us anymore and stop voting for us for 12 years, so be it. This issue is more important than us being ever re-elected again."

      IOW, it's a good thing that this mechanism exists to contain excesses, but in a normal democracy it has a price
      • by phorm ( 591458 )

        Sounds like a fair price. If you're not willing to put your [insert body part here] on the block here then it's not important enough to implode the government.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 03, 2013 @06:14AM (#45023237)

    It is sad how bad the editors are at their job. Just a quick glance at the linked article will find the full quote included therein:

    The USPTO, for example, is established in the US Constitution, and has its own funding that doesn’t depend on annual Congressional appropriations to the extent that some others do.

    But that funding won’t last forever. And if the budget deadlock remains in force for more than a few weeks, the USPTO will cease most operations along with the rest of the Department of Commerce as part of a Shutdown Plan that went into effect in September.

    And reading the full quote, we see that the OP completely 1) misread 2) misunderstood what they were being told. Did the OP intentionally misread the article, or was the OP a total idiot? We don't know the answer to that question.

  • Does this mean NSA mass surveillance analysis is taking a back seat? or is it just the essential services that are shutting down?
  • OP is a troll.

  • So we are guaranteed patents, but not justice?

    • by cdrudge ( 68377 )

      No. You're guaranteed the opportunity to file for a patent and possibly have it granted, even if the shutdown continues although there could be some trickle down delays. And you're still guaranteed eventual justice, it just may not ultimately be as soon as you'd like.

  • by Dialecticus ( 1433989 ) on Thursday October 03, 2013 @07:55AM (#45023527)

    This is just an example of Washington Monument Syndrome [], wherein the government (or a branch of it), when faced with budget cuts, first shuts down whatever site or service will cause the most uproar. Never mind the graft, never mind the mountains of wasteful spending, just cut funding to fire departments, schools, police, whatever will get noticed and inspire outrage the fastest. The idea is to apply pressure to the taxpayers, the budget office, the ways and means committee, or whoever else is capable of deciding that they should get more money. They do this every single time.

    It's exactly the same as a petulant child who, upon being told that he can only have two pieces of candy instead of five, holds his breath and stomps his feet in an effort to reverse the decision. And it's equally mature.

    • And that's why World War II veterans wanting to see a completely unstaffed memorial to the war they themselves fought in had to storm the ridiculous barricades like it was Omaha Beach.

      I think this time at least a few people will see through the stage props and realize they've caught the government at their own game. Whether they'll bother to do anything about it, if they can even figure out that they should, is doubtful.

    • by Guppy06 ( 410832 )

      This is just an example of Washington Monument Syndrome [], wherein the government (or a branch of it), when faced with budget cuts, first shuts down whatever site or service will cause the most uproar.

      If you think parks and monuments are the only things that have been shut down, you haven't been paying attention at all.

      But regardless, what does this say of House Republicans trying to now fund parks and monuments piecemeal, ignoring things like food inspection in the process?

      • by sconeu ( 64226 )

        Interestingly, the IRS is shut down as well.

  • Numerous problems with this story:

    1. PTO isn't open because its "funding is guaranteed by the Constitution". The Constitution merely authorizes Congress to establish a PTO. The office is open because it doesn't rely on government funding; it's funded by application fees.

    2. Given that the patent process takes years, having the FTC down for a few days won't have any effect. That is assuming that the FTC even has any role in patent approval/validation, which I don't think is true.

    3. The federal courts and much of the DoJ are not closed... plus having them shut down for a few days won't have any effect on patents.

    • by cdrudge ( 68377 )

      3. The federal courts and much of the DoJ are not closed... plus having them shut down for a few days won't have any effect on patents.

      ...for now. Federal courts apparently have about 2 weeks worth of funding to continue to operate. After that, staffers may be furloughed for non-essential tasks, and essential staff would not be paid until after funding is approved. I'm sure working unpaid for an indeterminate period of time will motivate them to do their very best work.

      If it comes down to figuring out wha

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 03, 2013 @08:52AM (#45023763)

    Long time slashdot lurker, first post. To disclose my bias: I'm a patent attorney, but I'm also a long time EFF supporter and member. This article is a bit disingenuous or wrong. The Constitution does not guarantee funding to the Patent Office. Instead, at best, Article 1 section 1 clause 8 says that Congress shall have the power to grant limited monopolies to inventors to further the progress of arts and sciences. A patent is only granted to someone who files an application, pays $$$$$ fees, invents something new (never been done before), is not obvious, and teaches the public fully how to make and use the invention. The fees are so much for filing and prosecuting an application that the Patent Office is the ONLY branch of government that is self-sufficient needing no taxpayer moneys and instead they generate such a surplus that the extra cash goes to other branches to help them operate. The quid pro quo from patent filings is awesome for the republic (not withstanding non-practicing entity trolls). We, the people, get $$$$ massive filing, prosecution, and maintenance fees, attorney fees, a full public disclosure of the technology such that once the patent expires (or if it doesn't issue as is often the case, the public is free to use the technology. Therefore, the patent office isn't shut down because it's actually generating revenue and it's accepting new disclosures from around the world. If we shut down then we wouldn't know e.g. Taiwan's latest greatest encryption protocol; China's new nuclear process; Russia's new oil exploration method... Our patent office is NOT the enemy. Far from it. They maintain a fully public accessible website of over 9 MILLION Patents fully text searchable; MILLIONS of published applications that didn't become patents (maybe not new or non-obvious enough or didn't comply with formalities)....MILLIONS of design patents... all free all available for the public - Aaron, may he read in peace, would approve. Our founding fathers realized it was essential for us to be dominant in the innovation and technology field that's why it's in the Constitution. Just wanted to toss my two cents in. IMHO.

  • TFA claims:

    The USPTO, for example, is established in the US Constitution

    No. No, it's not. The power -- not the obligation -- to issue patents and copyrights is established in the Constitution, but the USPTO is no more established there than any agency carrying out any other power of Congress.

  • Summary: "... the US Patent and Trademark Office is running as normal because its funding is guaranteed by the US Constitution."

    The USPTO, for example, is established in the US Constitution, and has its own funding that doesn’t depend on annual Congressional appropriations to the extent that some others do.

    See, Subby, it's not that the funding is guaranteed by the Constitution, but that the funding comes from its own fees rather than Congressional allotment. Consider, the very same clause in the Constitution that establishes the Patent Office also establishes the Copyright Office... And yet, the Copyright Office is closed []. The difference is that it only costs $35 to register a copyright, and costs upwards of $3000 in fees to get a patent.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Why did samzenpus let this through? The poster knows nothing about the patent system. USPTO has 4 weeks of funding, no other Constitutional guarantees. Patents are not challenged by anyone until AFTER they are approved/rejected. Get a clue!

  • Last time I checked, the only thing the constitution has to say about patents was that Congress CAN grant them, and they were supposed to be placed on a short leash, what with the limited times clause and the purpose explicitly being the promotion of progress. As others have said, a part of why the USPTO is still running is because of their funding model. This is just something done by statute.

Who goeth a-borrowing goeth a-sorrowing. -- Thomas Tusser