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March 14, 2009

Too Far

The cheesiest propaganda has a "gee-whiz, that ain't right" flavor. The rubes eat it up. So, whoever bothers to read the oxymoronic Christian Science Monitor is in for a treat. Correspondent James Turner gingerly spews gosh-darn hogwash, aided by an addled Daniel Ravicher, anti-patent kid wonder. "We have too many patents being granted," Danny sings. Apparently, Ravicher hasn't checked the allowance rate in a few years. Or maybe he has, but can't change his religion despite the facts.

Naturally, Turner turns to a goof, 6,368,227, claiming a kid's swing, as the proverbial ax murderer of the patent system.

To critics of the current US Patent and Trademark Office (PTO), this kind of patent demonstrates everything that's wrong with the patent system today.

Turner's shtick is that patents held by corporations are okay, but represent a rocket ride to Hell when free-lance inventors get patents, or when patents are sold.

As long as large corporations held the patents, things remained fairly peaceful. There has always been a kind of uneasy "mutually assured destruction" standoff among giants such as IBM and Microsoft, each holding patents that could be used against the other.

But as certain high-tech firms failed, many of their patents were acquired by intellectual-property holding companies, whose only business was to use these patents to make money. In other cases, independent inventors have patented what some consider blatantly obvious ideas.

Since these so-called "patent trolls" don't produce anything themselves, they have nothing to be countersued over.

Terrible Tommy Edison, 1,073 patents to his name, spins in his grave. His business was using patents to make money.

Turner might care to introduce himself to the concepts of market economics and intellectual property. Or maybe not. Some things are just too scary, too hurtful.

Turner cites a single litigation, where "critics... have found numerous examples they claim represent prior art." How novel.  The lament is that the patent "is now being used to threaten some of the largest corporations in the world with expensive lawsuits." Google, Apple, and Microsoft. Oh, those folks can't afford an expensive lawsuit. They must get the vapors over the prospect of invalidating a patent. The system must be fixed.

Red Hatted Rob Tiller gets in his shot.

We believe that companies that don't make a significant contribution, in terms of innovation, have exploited the existing patent system to play hold-up games with those who are, in effect, innovating in the marketplace.

Red Hat doesn't think patents represent "innovation." Red Hat must consider "innovating in the marketplace" synonymous to making money with second-rate software, because all they sell is an outdated hack, whose only technical progress comprises copying what they've seen Microsoft and Apple do.

The only bright star in the Christian science patent firmament is Peer to Patent.

The pilot program of 400 patents shows some initial success. Of the first 23 applications considered under Peer to Patent, nine were weeded out based on prior-art claims filed through the program.

"Weeded out" is overstatement. First rejection is more like it. And first rejections are ubiquitous. In other words, with citizen-reviewers putting in an average of 6 hours search per application, 39% of those first 23 found something. Turner neglected to mention that the PTO has long accepted third-party prior art submissions. What's more, the P-to-P pilot is unlikely to scale well. Peer to Patent is more political publicity stunt than anything.

If this article is any indication, Christian scientists might like to give patents a good Spanish Inquisition. Patent policeman about to billy-club "missy" for swinging without a patent. Their idea of cute.

Posted by Patent Hawk at March 14, 2009 9:02 PM | The Patent System


I posted the below comment at the CSM web site for their story, but it was "filtered" out apparently. Like many watching the patent field, I wonder if Mr. Turner is more interested in a "story" than the truth:

"Did you forget to mention Mr. Olson's age perhaps?


The USPTO has been operating as a headless agency for 16 years and is near to broken; the so-called "reformers" are merely trying to finish the job of breaking the system, instead of fixing the problems.

Mr. Olson is literally the 'poster child' for the reformers. In another self-serving move by the USPTO, the Olson patent was later revoked in a Director-ordered reexam (e.g., at the expense of patent applicants) solely because it was a public embarrassment, and not because of any national (or industrial) need."

Posted by: NIPRA anonymous at March 16, 2009 4:59 AM

""A new method of swinging on a swing would therefore represent an advance of great significance and value," it reads. Olson's alternative is to pull on one chain at a time, so the swing moves towards the side being pulled."

I will issue anyone who wants it a personal affidavit that said method was in public use during the period of 1986-90 when I was a child.

"The US Patent Office says it does not comment on individual patents, leaving it unclear how such an obvious idea won approval."

I'll tell you how. Count Monday. Does it every time.

"The USPTO has been operating as a headless agency for 16 years and is near to broken; the so-called "reformers" are merely trying to finish the job of breaking the system, instead of fixing the problems."

I can't find that in the article NIRPA, is that just you fuming a little bit as your system goes down the drain piece by piece just as I predicted not 3 years ago?

Don't get so upset. There is a light at the end of the tunnel the system will survive just fine, in a modified and reasonable way. Jury is still out on damages legislation, personally I don't think it needs legislation, it needs judges strict adherence to the already existing caselaw. But then, perhaps that is what legislation is for. Codifying Georgia wouldn't be so bad now would it?

Posted by: 6000 at March 16, 2009 5:19 AM

"I can't find that in the article NIRPA"

That's not in the article, 6K - don't you know what quotes (and their absence) signify?

Well, if I wasn't fuming so hard, I would have said the USPTO was operating as a headless agency from 1993-1998 and 2001-2008 which would have been more precise... their certainly was a glimmer of hope from 1998-2000, but it was perhaps overshadowed by the problems of the previous years.

I'm actually not very concerned about the 2009 patent reform bill(s). And yeah, a depression might be just what we need to re-value American innovation - which I still think is our greatest national resource.

Posted by: NIPRA anonymous at March 16, 2009 5:35 AM

"I'll tell you how. Count Monday. Does it every time."

Wrong again, 6K. (Gosh, I get so tired of repeating that.) It was Count Wednesday at the end of the Fiscal Year (it was docketed to the Examiner on a Monday).


Of course, WE attorneys would *NEVER NEVER* (scouts honor) time responses based on the Examiner's fiscal year in view of the antiquated count system and quarterly/yearly production requirements. That would just make it WAY WAY too easy for us to game the system....

07-12-2001 Non-Final Rejection
07-17-2001 Mail Non-Final Rejection
09-17-2001 Response after Non-Final Action
09-24-2001 Date Forwarded to Examiner
09-26-2001 Notice of Allowance Data Verification Completed
09-26-2001 Mail Notice of Allowance

Posted by: niRPa at March 16, 2009 6:14 AM