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March 27, 2009

No Respect Sausage

"To retain respect for sausages and laws, one must not watch them in the making." - credited to Otto von Bismark. Whatever the minutia marinade of the proposed patent sausage, it has little chance of sizzling itself into law. The noises you hear are sausage grinders, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D.-Vt.), and Sen. Arlen Specter (R.-Penns.), hawking money for mystery meat.

Sen. Specter: "I would put interested stakeholders on notice that we may be coming close to an agreement. Before [the bill] is finalized, I want to know what everyone thinks [because] there may be some significant modifications made and [Senators] are looking for agreement." The agreement Specter is really looking for is some steak from stakeholders in the form of lubricating lucre. Specter doesn't give a rat's ass about the patent sausage. He's just trying to hustle some happiness that the stakeholders have been heard and the money in his pocket jingles.

The only good thing about democracy is that it lets the folks vent. What history repeatedly shows is that doesn't make for sensible or coherent law. The sausage process is invariably driven by outcry and inevitably decided by heavy betting.

Sen. Leahy hustles with the smooth white lie: "We will complete a patent bill relatively soon in this committee, and it will go to floor of Senate." So now line up, to upchuck the bucks, to be near, my ancient ear.

The reason there is no possibility of sizzling sausage is that there is no consensus. The IT crowd want patents lamed: worth less, and litigation more costly. To them, patents are a net minus. Damaging damages is their big shtick. But the druggies need their fix, hooked on patent protection to maintain their erection of profits. Damn those damning damages. No one appears so wise as to head for compromise that would turn the page for passable sausage. When deep pockets collide with deep pockets, only the sausage makers pick up the explosion of change (coinage, I mean).

Much of what is proposed is downright scary. Better to change nothing than to change so much, given the unforeseen dynamics that may be unleashed. An economic depression is not exactly the best time to stomp on innovation.

If there is someone in the sausage factory who deserves respect for candor, it seems to be Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D.-Calif.): "I do not believe a bill can pass the Senate unless it maintains a balance and satisfies the needs of all the industries that use the patent process. I don't believe we are there yet."

Don't count on getting there.

Didn't get your fill? Catch more blabber and smoke with Gene Quinn.

Posted by Patent Hawk at March 27, 2009 7:08 PM | The Patent System


patent laws being sold to the highest bidder

Posted by: patent prosecutor at March 30, 2009 10:54 PM