Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 8th May 2010 17:32 UTC
In the News Whatever products we use, I think we can all agree that the United States patent system and the US Patent and Trademark Office need a serious overhaul. Not only has the USPTO a history of granting ridiculous patents (massive prior art, obviousness, incredibly vague, the USPTO grants them all), it also has a backlog of about 750000 patent applications. The USPTO now has a plan to combat these issues - sadly, they once again display their utter incompetence.
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Here we go again
by darknexus on Sat 8th May 2010 17:39 UTC
darknexus
Member since:
2008-07-15

Once again our government shows its incompetence. Personally, I suspect that at this point the only way to ever get the US government back on track is to purge it completely and start back at the original constitution. We've drifted so far away from the original intent of our government it's outright laughable. Hmm, wonder how long it's gonna take for them to come break down my door for saying that?

Reply Score: 6

RE: Here we go again
by legume42 on Sat 8th May 2010 18:18 UTC in reply to "Here we go again"
legume42 Member since:
2006-08-30

I think They will let you slide on that one.

It's not like you posted pictures of a cellphone or anything like that.

Reply Score: 10

satsujinka
Member since:
2010-03-11

rather than have the cost be the same for everyone, they should make it dependent on how much the company or person makes. They can then set patent cost at around 5% of ones yearly income and be done with it.

Alternately, we just abolish the patent system because it's a huge mess that no longer makes any sense.

Reply Score: 3

JonathanBThompson Member since:
2006-05-26

1. While there needs to be better screening of things, the patent system makes far more sense than the alternative.

2. Your idea of charging 5% of yearly income per patent is patently stupid: it will not at all help anything for the patent office, since as soon as you start putting such stupid rates in, companies will declare a tax writeoff, ad perhaps will go to such measures of filing all patents in a batch, keeping in mind that then they'll claim they had no income, or (better yet) a loss, and therefore... what, getting paid for submitting patents? In addition, while it may seem at first to provide a leg-up for "the little guy" where do you think most of the worthless patents come from in the first place?

Reply Score: 2

koki Member since:
2005-10-17

...is patently stupid

What? Stupidity has also been patented?

Reply Score: 3

looncraz Member since:
2005-07-24

Yes, indeed. I think I am the patent holder, still. It is a hotly contested patent, with nearly 300 million others jostling for ownership rights.

Thankfully, or perhaps tragically, we all have the same lawyer: Obama.

--The loon


EDIT: hrm...

Edited 2010-05-09 02:38 UTC

Reply Score: 3

Karitku Member since:
2006-01-12

rather than have the cost be the same for everyone, they should make it dependent on how much the company or person makes. They can then set patent cost at around 5% of ones yearly income and be done with it.

And how hard would it be to cheat this system, dead simple. Actually whole situation would be worse since it would create more patent troll companies that exists merely to pump money from big corporates. Most of the patents are so hard to accomplish by mere person that it would choke of innovation.

Alternately, we just abolish the patent system because it's a huge mess that no longer makes any sense.

And make millions of people unemployed? R&D is one of the biggest employer in western countries since production has moved to china and other cheap places. Patents protect those inventions. If it takes couple of years to innovate something new how long you think it takes to ape it, 5mins. What sane company would spend money or time on R%D when some chinese firm full of apes will come same product in 5mins? Compete with product that needs to cover R&D and production against something that has just production costs, which one you think is going to cost less? Or maybe we all can be employed by Greece goverment.

Reply Score: 2

Alex Forster
Member since:
2005-08-12

Stop awarding so many patents and people will stop filing patent applications every time they take a novel new shit.

If they have people trying to come up with ways to fix the backlog problem, and this ended up being their brilliant solution, they must have consciously rejected the idea of stricter patent criteria. They didn't just not think of it - they actively rejected it.

Edited 2010-05-08 18:27 UTC

Reply Score: 3

Patent fees
by vivainio on Sat 8th May 2010 18:29 UTC
vivainio
Member since:
2008-12-26

Higher patent fees would seem like a good thing. If they were very expensive to file, less frivolous crap would be patented. Perhaps we would have someone competent screening the patents as well.

If you need patent system to innovate, please stop innovating. World will be better off that way.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Patent fees
by arturo on Sun 9th May 2010 01:13 UTC in reply to "Patent fees"
arturo Member since:
2006-06-08

Higher pattent fees will not solve the problem. Microsoft has thousends of weak, vague, obvious, meanigfull patents ie: submit button ....

Reply Score: 2

RE: Patent fees
by Karitku on Sun 9th May 2010 18:31 UTC in reply to "Patent fees"
Karitku Member since:
2006-01-12

Have anyone looked current patent fees? Investigating journalist Thom? Anyone? Well fuck they are cheap! Actually it's cheaper than in Europe(compared to fees in Finland). Plus they already give 50% of for small business! "OMG how did he find this!", "It didn't read in article?!", "He must be magician or some guru". Answer: "Use the intrenutz, n00bs!"

http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/ac/qs/ope/fee2009september15.htm#p...

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Patent fees
by Thom_Holwerda on Sun 9th May 2010 21:31 UTC in reply to "RE: Patent fees"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

You call those small amounts? You do realise that to have an effective patent, you do need more than just the first filing fee, right? There's maintenance, possible re-issue, patent search fees domestic, patent search fees international, and so on, and so forth. When put together, those add up.

I didn't do the actual calculation, but adding everything up (and in today's global economy, you're going to need to investigate if your "invention" has been patented in Europe or Asia as well) it looks like 10000-15000 USD per patent. That's a hell of a lot of money.

And certainly not "cheap".

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Patent fees
by Karitku on Mon 10th May 2010 06:16 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Patent fees"
Karitku Member since:
2006-01-12

You call those small amounts? You do realise that to have an effective patent, you do need more than just the first filing fee, right? There's maintenance, possible re-issue, patent search fees domestic, patent search fees international, and so on, and so forth. When put together, those add up. I didn't do the actual calculation, but adding everything up (and in today's global economy, you're going to need to investigate if your "invention" has been patented in Europe or Asia as well) it looks like 10000-15000 USD per patent. That's a hell of a lot of money. And certainly not "cheap".


Ofc they add up, that's the point. If your invention is really bad and don't have much market value it shouldn't be patented first place, system works. It's same as starting own company, it isn't cheap. And like in business you need to find financing outside, thus so called business angels. If you have really good invention you can get outside money to finance patenting and other stuff. Having high patent fees will cut out so called "patent fishers" who patent everything just to see if they get catch. Plus keep mind that all this paper work costs.

Reply Score: 2

USPTO fees don't compare to attorney fees
by braddock on Sat 8th May 2010 18:32 UTC
braddock
Member since:
2005-07-08

I'm prosecuting several patents at the moment. The USPTO fees are NOTHING compared to the attorney fees necessary to process a patent.

The USPTO fees would have to increase an order of magnitude just to double the total cost.

As for the backlog, I'm not convinced it is a bad thing to allow time for more prior art to be declared and accumulate.

That said, the US software patent policy _is_ very broken.

Reply Score: 4

crazy idea
by project_2501 on Sat 8th May 2010 18:40 UTC
project_2501
Member since:
2006-03-20

It's a crazy situation we've got ourselves into. So here's a crazy idea:

Why not invalidate all patents. That way the competition will only be on the quality of implementation (or integration). Personally, I think this would work very well for the consumer, and stop companies getting lazy on delivering a good product/good value for money just because they have a period of insulation from competition due to patents. It works in Open Source.

A less crazy idea - small organisations, individuals should get cheap patents. Patents should be prices in accordance with the size of the organisation. This would also stop the larger offenders from throwing too many silly patents at the patent office. Makes sense to me - it targets the problem, and doesn't negatively affect the man in the street.

Reply Score: 3

RE: crazy idea
by Bully on Sun 9th May 2010 08:08 UTC in reply to "crazy idea"
Bully Member since:
2006-04-07

The USPTO doesn't really want to solve the problem.
It's obvious that they are in the pocket of big compagnies.

Reply Score: 3

RE: crazy idea
by Karitku on Sun 9th May 2010 18:37 UTC in reply to "crazy idea"
Karitku Member since:
2006-01-12

A less crazy idea - small organisations, individuals should get cheap patents. Patents should be prices in accordance with the size of the organisation. This would also stop the larger offenders from throwing too many silly patents at the patent office. Makes sense to me - it targets the problem, and doesn't negatively affect the man in the street.

OMG OMG here is another crazy idea, why don't you do some investigation before posting comments. Look small business and individuals already PAY LESS than big companies. Fuck you had crazy idea that they are already using it! Holyshit it's fucking deja vu or some LSD trip.

http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/ac/qs/ope/fee2009september15.htm#p...

Reply Score: 2

Patent real things
by David on Sat 8th May 2010 19:09 UTC
David
Member since:
1997-10-01

Or, we could go back to patenting only real inventions, and not let people patent business process or software. That would cut down the backlog.

Reply Score: 7

Bad Stats
by Bill Shooter of Bul on Sat 8th May 2010 19:54 UTC
Bill Shooter of Bul
Member since:
2006-07-14

If they are processing them at a rate 35% greater than before, then you would expect 35% more patents granted than last year. Without both those numbers its not possible to tell if their has been any change in the quality of the review process.

Reply Score: 3

v Indirect link from the article
by tyrione on Sat 8th May 2010 20:01 UTC
vivainio Member since:
2008-12-26


If I've got $50 Billion to burn I'll have no problem spending more on patent applications.


But with big application fees, the risk that someone competent reviews the application and rejects it is much bigger.

Reply Score: 2

Radio Member since:
2009-06-20

Look! It's a unicorn!

Reply Score: 1

Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

Exactly how big is a "big application fee"? The most likely scenarios is that either it's not big enough to deter frivolous patents or it's so big that only big companies can afford it, leaving actual innovators unable to apply.

Reply Score: 3

vivainio Member since:
2008-12-26

Exactly how big is a "big application fee"? The most likely scenarios is that either it's not big enough to deter frivolous patents or it's so big that only big companies can afford it, leaving actual innovators unable to apply.


Considering the damage patents cause to other companies (reducing the innovation), it should be very big. If little companies can't afford to apply, then they should just sell the tech to a big company that can.

Reply Score: 1

Again...
by Neolander on Sat 8th May 2010 22:30 UTC
Neolander
Member since:
2010-03-08

If we use the following system :
-Have patents owned by some individuals who asked for one rather than immaterial things like companies.
-Make its property non-transferable.
-When every inventor is dead, put the invention in public domain, and forbid new patents on it

Wouldn't it solve much patent issues ? Including raising amount of patents ?

I believe in the original intent of the patent©right system : allow original inventors of a product or technique to get some financial benefit for their ideas. That's the capitalistic way of encouraging innovation, and it works pretty well without needing a complete government overhaul so according to Occam it's fine. But the way it's currently implemented, it slows down innovation instead of helping it...

Edited 2010-05-08 22:38 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE: Again...
by JonathanBThompson on Sat 8th May 2010 23:34 UTC in reply to "Again..."
JonathanBThompson Member since:
2006-05-26

There's a potential major problem with a patent expiring immediately after all listed inventors die, though perhaps you'll think this is too much Hollywood: then inventors that patent anything worthwhile that's profitable would have a much larger price on their heads, since killing them would make it easier to snatch that business. Then, of course, there's the other solution: assign it to a business, which is an entity that (if run correctly) has a lifespan far exceeding that of any human. So, no, there would need to be some future expiration date beyond the last inventor's death, at least up until the normal expiration date of the patent as currently done, or at least something consistent with all other patents. Remember, patents aren't copyrights, and don't keep getting extensions put on them.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Again...
by Neolander on Sun 9th May 2010 07:16 UTC in reply to "RE: Again..."
Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

There's a potential major problem with a patent expiring immediately after all listed inventors die, though perhaps you'll think this is too much Hollywood: then inventors that patent anything worthwhile that's profitable would have a much larger price on their heads, since killing them would make it easier to snatch that business.

I have two objections.
1/Maybe I'm being a little idealistic, but I don't think that in the world where we live, companies would get to the point of killing people in occidental countries in order to make money, except in very rare occasions (e.g annoying politics).
2/What prevents several people from filling the patent ? It's pretty rare that only one man/woman participated to the development of something...

Then, it's true that if there's already a length limitation...
Well, patents expire 20 years after the application was filed. That is 14 years for design patents. Once a patent expires, it cannot be granted again, and extensions can only be granted by a special act of congress.

...sounds fair. However non-transferability is needed in order to get rid of patent trolls and other big non-innovative companies.

What about min(life of the people involved, current patent lifetime), then ?

Edited 2010-05-09 07:26 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE: Again...
by DrillSgt on Sun 9th May 2010 01:04 UTC in reply to "Again..."
DrillSgt Member since:
2005-12-02


-When every inventor is dead, put the invention in public domain, and forbid new patents on it



Well, patents expire 20 years after the application was filed. That is 14 years for design patents. Once a patent expires, it cannot be granted again, and extensions can only be granted by a special act of congress.

Reply Score: 2

ozonehole
Member since:
2006-01-07

I think it's obvious now: the USPTO is all about money. It's a self-supporting business. In order to remain profitable, they need to charge as much as the market will bear, and grant as many patents as possible, regardless of the horrible consequences for small businesses and independent software developers.

Just like all the fraudulent casinos on Wall Street (Goldman-Sachs, now-defunct Lehman Brothers, etc), software patents are good for the economy because they "create jobs" - for somebody. Everyone else comes out the losers. But in the end, the smoking ruin of the economy means we all lose.

Reply Score: 6

Turn back the clock instead
by DrillSgt on Sat 8th May 2010 23:55 UTC
DrillSgt
Member since:
2005-12-02

Maybe they should go back to the way it used to be, where a person had to actually have a working prototype before requesting a patent. That alone would drop the load considerably. For software patents, they should be kicked to the curb anyway as there is only so many ways to do math.

Reply Score: 5

Self Supporting
by Anonymous Coward on Sun 9th May 2010 01:51 UTC
Anonymous Coward
Member since:
2005-07-06

The USPTO should have royalties on patents. When patented products are sold, the money goes to the USPTO....that money is used to hire more skilled people to review patents and reject any that are pure BS. Software should NEVER be patented.... it is already under copyright law. It should only be possible to patent a physical object or mechanism. They should also require renewal with additional review for each of the 20 years that they can be renewed, and the renewal should require a shipping product, or an updated prototype.

Reply Score: 1

Best solution
by 3rdalbum on Sun 9th May 2010 04:38 UTC
3rdalbum
Member since:
2008-05-26

The best solution is to remove all patents. Products in the marketplace must be able to keep marketshare based on continuing innovation and brand name recognition, not because they're literally the ONLY product of that type around (and the product hasn't been updated since the patent was granted 5 years ago).

Competition is a good thing. Patents stifle it.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Best solution
by Neolander on Sun 9th May 2010 07:04 UTC in reply to "Best solution"
Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

The best solution is to remove all patents. Products in the marketplace must be able to keep marketshare based on continuing innovation and brand name recognition, not because they're literally the ONLY product of that type around (and the product hasn't been updated since the patent was granted 5 years ago).

Competition is a good thing. Patents stifle it.

Well, I see a problem with that sir : how are you encouraging people to go into the research and innovation area ? Some people like me will want to go through the PhD pain just because they love it, but for most people, studying more in order to get paid less sounds quite idiotic. And it's not better on a management side : innovation is, by its very nature, a very risky investment that rarely gets reimbursed. Without patents, it makes even less money and hence sounds even more risky.

This is not to say that this problem doesn't already exist. To the contrary, about each time a brand got a monopoly somewhere, we saw innovation quickly disappear (e.g : see Office versions from the 90s to 2003, before OpenOffice started to look like a serious threat). Public research that is independent of any merchantability issue is the only way to get rid of this effect, but it can't have a look at every research problem around. Patents are a workaround, but a needed one I think.

Edited 2010-05-09 07:11 UTC

Reply Score: 1

A question of time ?
by _QJ_ on Sun 9th May 2010 08:32 UTC
_QJ_
Member since:
2009-03-12

I am wondering if it not a question of duration...

Shortening the duration of the software patents could be a solution?
This makes inventions taking advantage on a market, and then, as soon of the patent is closed, other companies can implement freely (yes, -really- without royalties) the invention.

The patent system comes from another age, more than two centuries, but today everything goes so fast, communications, etc., but also... ROI.

Reply Score: 1

RE: A question of time ?
by Neolander on Sun 9th May 2010 13:33 UTC in reply to "A question of time ?"
Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

I agree with you. A car technology being patented for 20 years is not an issue, as an example, because car technology is already mature and probably won't move any further (especially on these days where we begin to see that using fossil fuels is a bit nearsighted). However, computer science is still far from getting to this point.

However, how could you adapt durations in a non-arbitrary fashion ?

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: A question of time ?
by Karitku on Sun 9th May 2010 18:41 UTC in reply to "RE: A question of time ?"
Karitku Member since:
2006-01-12

What about car computers are they part of mature car industry or computer industry? What about ECS, ABS and other new shit that they invent all time? What if aunt has balls doesn't it make her uncle?

Reply Score: 2

Ofcourse...
by bert64 on Sun 9th May 2010 17:20 UTC
bert64
Member since:
2007-04-23

Of course it screws small companies, the current government doesn't work for the benefit of the people or for small companies, it exists to help big companies increase their profits.

Reply Score: 2

Privatize the Patent Office
by Dano on Mon 10th May 2010 12:31 UTC
Dano
Member since:
2006-01-22

Why not privatize the patent office? Give these lawyers some real work to do by validating patents instead of just suing to invalidate them and/or defending them. That way things would get done faster, fees would occur with a bidding process and lawyers could offer a real enforcement mechanism with private patent insurance and other fee for services to defend the patent. The government can't do anything as well as private business. Think of the people that could be employed in this new industry! If you need government oversight, you could have the government review the end product that comes out of the private review process. Makes sense to me at least.

Edited 2010-05-10 12:33 UTC

Reply Score: 1