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November 14, 2007

Smoking Obama

Barack Obama, a former law professor, still a first-term senator, and now a reputedly charismatic but greenhorn presidential candidate, supports patent extravagance and band-aids: gold-plated patents, and a new post-grant opposition proceeding by the PTO. The more robust idea of an overall better examination regime via turfing out the clowns now running the show either hasn't occurred to him, or isn't splashy enough.

Obama on patents:

Reform the Patent System: A system that produces timely, high-quality patents is essential for global competitiveness in the 21st century. By improving predictability and clarity in our patent system, we will help foster an environment that encourages innovation. Giving the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) the resources to improve patent quality and opening up the patent process to citizen review will reduce the uncertainty and wasteful litigation that is currently a significant drag on innovation. With better informational resources, the Patent and Trademark Office could offer patent applicants who know they have significant inventions the option of a rigorous and public peer review that would produce a "gold-plated" patent much less vulnerable to court challenge. Where dubious patents are being asserted, the PTO could conduct low-cost, timely administrative proceedings to determine patent validity. As president, Barack Obama will ensure that our patent laws protect legitimate rights while not stifling innovation and collaboration.

The PTO already has a gold-plated process called Accelerated Examination, and there is nothing wrong with the current post-grant reexamination process, or even the regular examination process, that sensible management couldn't fix. The patent office doesn't need "better informational resources," whatever that is supposed to mean; it already has prior art databases up the yin-yang; what it needs is savvy-enough management to hire and retain decent examiners, and give them enough time to simply do their jobs; this isn't rocket science, it's management science.

The presumption of patent validity should be a constant, not subject to a "gold star" for shelling out up front.

Law professor Mark Lemley, Douglas Lichtman, and Bhaven Sampat wrote a paper titled "What to do About Bad Patents," that reads like a blueprint for Obama's patent agenda. The fallacious premise for this is that the value of a patentable technology can be known from the get-go; news flash: it can't. Anyone sufficiently experienced in the patent business knows this. But if you're just a law professor...

Posted by Patent Hawk at November 14, 2007 11:54 PM | The Patent System


As of Super Tuesday, can anyone tell me if Senator Obama has actually quit smoking? Some may think this is a petty question, but if someone aspires to not only be president but effect change in our healthcare system, then he must set an example of a healthy lifestyle. I sincerely hope that he has kicked the habit (and eventually the nicotine patches, too). Would I, a dedicated anti-smoking physician voite for a smoker? A very tough question indeed. Might it cost him the election? We'll have to wait and see.

Posted by: xottawan at February 5, 2008 10:19 AM