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January 23, 2009

The Front Burner

Hal Wegner has expressed "reason for optimism that patents will not be put on a back burner by the new President." Reason for optimism would be just the opposite: that things would simmer down, on the back burner.

The Obama campaign propaganda, referred to as the "Technology Agenda," read as follows:

Reform the Patent System: Ensure that our patent laws protect legitimate rights while not stifling innovation and collaboration. Give the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) the resources to improve patent quality and open up the patent process to citizen review to help foster an environment that encourages innovation. Reduce uncertainty and wasteful litigation that is currently a significant drag on innovation.

Reading between the lines yields nothing but bad juju for patents. "Not stifling innovation" indicates a belief that patents can stifle innovation. "Open up the patent process to citizen review" would be the equivalent of succoring a lynch mob if the topic were crime. "Reduce... wasteful litigation that is currently a significant drag on innovation." How? Limit patent assertion? Compulsory licensing? Are shotguns involved? "Reduce uncertainty..." Make certain that patent rights are curtailed?

Whoever wrote that might have well been on the team writing Bilski (limiting patentability), Seagate (limiting damages), KSR (limiting novelty), or the Patent Axes of 2005 to 2008. Any government stupid enough to think that buying up bad bank loans and propping up loser car companies is the right way to fix the economy is dumb enough to think that patents "stifle innovation," and, by gosh, let's fix that too. Dumb money talks as well as smart money to a Congress that can't tell the difference. It's not the intelligence behind the money, it's the volume. And the heavy money has been anti-patent.

Real patent reform is needed. Precisely to "reduce uncertainty." And that would mean affording expeditious enforcement of patent rights, recognizing invention in all technological arts, and knowing what Thomas Jefferson knew about novelty. But that's not going to happen here. Not anytime soon.

Posted by Patent Hawk at January 23, 2009 10:08 PM | The Patent System


"And the heavy money has been anti-patent..."

luckily the pro-patent lobby which includes the pharmaceutical, biotech and industrial companies, VC companies, NPE/pure IP/fabless companies, worker unions, universities/research institutions and individual inventors is probably stronger then the patent piracy movement, or at least I hope so...

Posted by: Regata De Blank at January 24, 2009 6:09 AM

In case you forget who butters Obama's bread, here's the blurb from the homepage of the Coaltion for Patent Fairness website:

The Coalition for Patent Fairness believes that the strength of our economy is grounded on strong and effective protections for intellectual property. ***
Unfortunately, the current patent system is in need of reform. Over-broad patent grants stifle future innovators, while unjustified lawsuits that aim to extort settlements without regard to the merits of underlying patents clog the courts. Enactment of targeted patent reforms is necessary to ensure the future competitiveness of America.

Posted by: Anonymous at January 24, 2009 9:41 AM