Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 25th Jul 2011 22:25 UTC, submitted by _txf_
Legal Forbes' Timothy B. Lee has dug up a remarkable piece of history regarding IBM and Sun Microsystems that's an almost one-to-one copy of the situation between Microsoft and Android. Thirty years ago, IBM knocked on Sun's door. We've got some patents, IBM said. Please pay up.
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"cash cow"
by jack_perry on Mon 25th Jul 2011 22:40 UTC
Member since:

The USPTO became the federal government's cash cow.

I'd like to see actual numbers on that. According to the IRS, the 2009 FY budget was financed by roughly 50% taxes (income, social security, medicare, etc) and roughly 40% borrowing. The rest is excise fees and the rest, & I know from experience that immigration fees are steep, because USCIS is required to operate in such a way that immigration fees pay for the processing of the corresponding forms.

So unless I see real numbers, I'd guess that USPTO provides a fraction of a percent of income to Uncle Sam. That doesn't sound like either a cash cow, or a reason not to reform it.

(This doesn't mean that they don't -- I just want to see the numbers.)

Reply Score: 5

RE: "cash cow"
by Bill Shooter of Bul on Mon 25th Jul 2011 23:09 in reply to ""cash cow""
Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:

Yeah, I'm no fan of software patents, but the idea that the patent office supplies any kind of significant revenue producer seems a bit far fetched. If so, they should increase their fees. We could use it, and it might not be a bad thing if it caused less than meritorious patents from being issued.

Reply Parent Score: 4

RE[2]: "cash cow"
by umccullough on Tue 26th Jul 2011 00:17 in reply to "RE: "cash cow""
umccullough Member since:

We could use it, and it might not be a bad thing if it caused less than meritorious patents from being issued.

But the exact opposite would likely happen - more patents would make it through the review process because even the less meritorious would be worth giant sums of money to the government who runs the USPTO in the first place.

Only extremely rich corporations would afford it, and having a monopoly on every idea that they can push through the patent office would essentially eliminate competition completely.

Reply Parent Score: 6

RE: "cash cow"
by Yamin on Tue 26th Jul 2011 01:22 in reply to ""cash cow""
Yamin Member since:

You're thinking large scale.
People operate on a more local scale.

The USPTO itself sees patents as a revenue source for its employees. No different than police or anti drug squads like anti-drug laws.

Then the 'profits' of the USPTO go to some program or group that gains an interest in it and it gets hard to cut. No different than red light camera or speed traps being used for city funds.

Reply Parent Score: 2