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EU Patent Staff Go On Strike

timothy posted more than 6 years ago | from the stop-exploiting-me dept.

Patents 116

h4rm0ny writes "Last Friday, staff at the European Patent Office went on strike. They protested outside for several hours and issued a statement claiming that 'the organisation is decentralising and focusing on granting as many patents as possible to gain financially from fees generated.' They also declared this as being disastrous for innovation and that their campaign was not for better wages, but for better quality patents. Meanwhile, an article on it discusses the US's own approach to dealing with the increasing flood of patent applications: a community patent project to help identify prior art. It might sound like a grass-roots scheme, and maybe it is, but those roots include such patent behemoths as IBM. So it looks like on both sides of the Atlantic, some signs of sanity might be emerging in the patent world from those people right in the thick of it." Note, this was a half-day strike, not ongoing.

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Finally! (4, Insightful)

WorldInChaos (1250700) | more than 6 years ago | (#25120275)

Some common sense comes into play! Hopefully something happens as a result of this.

Re:Finally - Common Sense! (4, Interesting)

WorldInChaos (1250700) | more than 6 years ago | (#25120317)

wow...first comment?! If people haven't realized by now that unnecessary patents hamper innovation, they need to wake up. Common sense would be awesome if applied to the patent system - that would perhaps be the single best improvement in the system. Also, having patents summarized in plain English would be nice for small companies desiring to create products and solutions. If the people involved in the system acknowledge its flaws...you know it's well past time to do something, as many insiders prefer blissful ignorance.

Re:Finally - Common Sense! (3, Interesting)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 6 years ago | (#25120997)

Actually these are bureaucrats refusing to do their master's bidding ... guess what their chances are ... I worked at the EU. The organisation isn't even democratic (the real power is in the hands of an unelected body, the european comission).

Any demands for accountability of the leaders will be shot down faster than it would have been in Iran, or on the Tiananmen square. The EU is all about how it looks. About the wages of the "fonctionnaires" (this is a word that will join a dictionary in 2050 with references to "fuhrer", "KGB", "SS" and "comissar"). It is european after all. Not about substance.

Complaining about substance will get you sued faster than saying "real prophets don't rape 6-year old girls" will get you killed in Iran, however true the claims may be.

Re:Finally - Common Sense! (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25121925)

Actually these are bureaucrats refusing to do their master's bidding ... guess what their chances are ... I worked at the EU. The organisation isn't even democratic (the real power is in the hands of an unelected body, the european comission).

The EU commission president is suggested by the heads of the governments of the member states (all democratically elected), and has to be approved by the European Parliament (democratically elected). The commission president then selects his commissioners, then the commission has to be approved again by the parliament. How is that not democratic?

I'm not saying it's perfect (few things in the EU as in many other institutions are), especially I think it's a shame that the EP can only reject the complete commission, not individual commissioners, bust seriously... not democratic? Are in your home country all ministers elected directly by the people - individually?

And saying that the commission is "the real power"... the commission can draft laws which they can suggest to the parliament and the council (which consists of the national governments). You make its sound like they run the EU alone...

Re:Finally - Common Sense! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25128257)

Today's states are already too big to be truly democratic even in the legislative realm (because the economy, education, army, police, ... are totally undemocratic to begin with.) With a superleviathan like the EU, government becomes so removed from the people that lobbyism and the inner dynamics of bureaucracy are far more influential than the popular will. Contracts between governments creepingly supersede national law and even national constitutions. They even tried to force a "European constitution" on us without allowing most of the citizens to vote on it. How is that democratic? No wonder most people don't vote in EP elections. They know that parliament is a joke.

Re:Finally - Common Sense! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25128519)

Actually, the parliament has some influence,and it would have gained much more by the "constitution".

I agree that large states become less democratic in the sense that the people in power get inevitably more removed from the people. This is why I strongly believe in a federal system. I also believe that the EU is a good thing in principle, though one should be careful when deciding what really needs to be handled on EU level, or rather national level or even lower.

Switzerland surely is a nice example of a very direct democracy, but I guess it won't work so well on larger scale.

Re:Finally - Common Sense! (2, Informative)

udippel (562132) | more than 6 years ago | (#25121981)

Good shot, but wrong! The EPO is not a subsidiary of the EC, it is not EU. The signatory states are not identical to the states of the EU.
The EPO has its own constitution, own salary scheme, own working regulations.
Not that I'd question your general line of arguments, just to be correct on the dot.

Re:Finally - Common Sense! (1)

laddiebuck (868690) | more than 6 years ago | (#25124381)

Just one minor correction: EPC, not EC. EC is the European Community, EPC is the European Patent Convention. Cheers for the explanation though. :)

Re:Finally - Common Sense! (4, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 6 years ago | (#25121375)

Also, having patents summarized in plain English would be nice for small companies desiring to create products and solutions.

Sadly, there seems to be far more incentive to obfuscate what the patent is actually saying. Either so you can claim it covers almost any conceivable scenario, or so that nobody can identify that you're patenting something trivial and obvious.

Most patent summaries I've ever seen read as bad (if not worse) than legal documents. It also seems the more trivial the patent, the more ridiculous the verbiage.

Cheers

Re:Finally - Common Sense! (1)

squizzar (1031726) | more than 6 years ago | (#25122447)

Which seems to be a more modern phenomena. I've seen some of the old patents from BBC Research they were written as clearly as possible and with all relevant detail. They were apparently told to do this so that if a case came to court it would be easy to explain the content to a jury, who are unlikely to be technically minded.

Thank god we have lawyers these days who can translate all the obfuscation for us, and hence patents can be completely unreadable.

Re:Finally - Common Sense! (2, Insightful)

Kainaw (676073) | more than 6 years ago | (#25122813)

The bad verbage of patents is not necessarily the patent writer's fault. When I tried to submit a patent, it came back three times demanding that I rewrite it until it made no sense. Then, it was denied because I used the phrase "A person may use..." instead of "A person can use...". In patent-speak, the word "may" means "may not". So, I applied for a patent for an idea that people may not use.

Re:Finally - Common Sense! (4, Informative)

sir_eccles (1235902) | more than 6 years ago | (#25123343)

I think you misunderstood the explanation. It's a little more complicated than saying "may" means "may not". Using the phrase "a person may use X" implies that the person ALSO "may not use X" and still perform the invention. In other words it implies that the feature is optional.

Patents are legal documents and in the same way contracts use strange legal speak, patents use legal language so that there is no doubt what they claim. While it may look like obfuscation when read properly they are actually quite clear.

Re:Finally - Common Sense! (5, Informative)

kanweg (771128) | more than 6 years ago | (#25123467)

Patent agent here.

An abstract is a requirement. An applicant has to provide one. If there is something wrong in the application and correct in the abstract, the applicant is not allowed to rely on the abstract to fix the error in the application. Guess what, patent agents spend as little time on the abstract as possible. Personaly, I appreciate clear abstracts, so I may tend to do a bit better than average, but still it isn't at the top of my priority list. Having said that, I never propose a drawing to go with the abstract, as that involves more work (providing reference numerals etc.). Sincere apologies to the rest of the world. During the PCT phase, the Examiner often picks one, and adds the numbers. Thanks.

As to clarity of the application. Unfortunately stupid US case law (which stupid people from a country that shall not be named defend, because doing otherwise would be probably considered unpatriotic, or something) favours unclarity and incompleteness. (It is like that famous: "Everything you say can and will be held against you?". ). A US patent claim is like a bag of loose wrist watch parts. A (proper) European claim details the relationship between the parts. Such a claim is harder to write, and leads in the US to more problems. Guess what US patent agents do?

There are even courses for European patent agent to learn how to write obfuscated claims for the US. I refuse to give in, and try to write my claims as clear as possible. The patent system is a deal between society and an inventor, where the inventor reveals his invention in return for an exclusive right for a limited-time. I make this clear to my clients and the invention is written down with that in mind.

If my sticking to clarity means I overlook something and it falls outside the scope of protection, too bad. I hope my approach protects my clients from unnecessary lawsuits where they have to prove that something is within the scope of their poorly-written claim or some scumbag thinks he can reason himself out of the scope. So far, no lawsuits (I don't want to imply that all my claims were so well drafted to have had this effect. Perhaps I - and my clients - were just fortunate).

Bert

Examples of silly US things:
If you describe an experiment in past tense, you have performed it. If you write it in present tense, you haven't. Uhm, how does this writing in present tense undo the fact that an applicant actually performed the experiments, again?
If you discuss literature, you admit that it is prior art. Well, everything before the filing date is prior art, isn't it, so what is the problem? Oh, you mean relevant prior art limiting the scope of my claims? Well, what I write and read in a particular publication KNOWING THE INVENTION OF MY CLIENT isn't necessarily the same as what a person skilled in the art at the time of filing would read in that publication. In the US, you have conceded that it is known. In Europe, you can get back from what you said earlier (if there is a fair reason for that). In Europe: If I said that I saw Jesus yesterday, and today I say I was mistaken, it is OK if now stick to the latter. In the US it is solid legal proof that Jesus was here yesterday. Sigh.

Caught by the common man (2)

LogicallyGenius (916669) | more than 6 years ago | (#25120327)

Finally sheeple are becoming people it seems.

Re:Caught by the common man (1)

Starayo (989319) | more than 6 years ago | (#25120709)

Only in Europe, of course.

Re:Caught by the common man (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25123159)

People who use the word "sheeple" are tools too ignorant to realize that they're just throwing rocks from their flock into another.

Re:Finally! (3, Interesting)

db32 (862117) | more than 6 years ago | (#25120487)

I wouldn't call it common sense so much as business sense. It was only a matter of time before people with lots of money got upset by this mess. Sure it was great when they could use it to squash every potential newcomer, but now that it is costing the big guys money they want to ditch it.

Conversely, if this DOES lead to some fixes, and then patents have to be really innovative and the system works as planned you can bet your ass the big dogs will push hard to go RIGHT back to the previous practice of patenting everything under the sun after a few small guys stick a big enough thorn in their side. Small guy comes up with something truely innovative, patents it, and now the big dogs are on his leash if they want to use it... Yeah...that will last long...we already saw it collapse once.

Re:Finally! (1)

goose-incarnated (1145029) | more than 6 years ago | (#25120551)

Sounds like a balance to me.

Re:Finally! (1)

h4rm0ny (722443) | more than 6 years ago | (#25121803)


The current state of patents in the US, at least in software which is the area I am familiar with, is that they are like nuclear weapons in their destructive power. It doesn't matter as much that the big companies have a vast arsenal, they can still be hit hard by a rogue company with the right patent at the right time. Whilst the US patent system does create a strong barrier to entry that protects the big players against the up and coming to some extent, I think they are coming to the conclusion that they would rather fight on their own merits (they are after all quite capable of doing so) or purchasing such tidbits as arise independently (again, they're quite capable of this), than leaving themselves open to a damaging patent strike from an outsider. Badly written or silly patents are a danger to everyone, much like nukes. A process of disarmament doesn't harm the big players so long as it's on all sides. And I think they may be coming to realise this. That the EU has twice fought off US-style patent law has to my mind had a significant effect in bringing about this change in mind. After all, in a global economy, having a large player that isn't hamstrung by the system encourages others to reconsider their own plight. Not that everything is rosy here in Europe, but I think the above has a fair bit of truth to it.

Re:Finally! (1)

db32 (862117) | more than 6 years ago | (#25122935)

The problem is right now it is easier for the big guys to shut down the little guys using vague or overreaching patents than it is for the little guys to fire back against an army of lawyers. I don't care how well your patent may be written, unless you have a truckload of cash you are going to have a hard time breaking through the army of patent lawyers that MS, IBM, etc all have. I suspect that if things get fixed we will see a horde of new players jump on the scene unencumbered by ebay,amazon,MS style patent attacks to shut them down. When these companies can use flawed patents to maintain a monopoly then getting bitten by little guys who might win from time to time is hardly an issue. Sure they may lose a bit of money, but in the long run they will more than have made it up with monopoly status profits.

Re:Finally! (1)

paniq (833972) | more than 6 years ago | (#25120527)

Don't hope too much. It's Europe, where common sense was actually invented.

Re:Finally! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25120767)

Yeah common sense, Two World Wars, the Inquisition, and a couple of Holy Wars. Even America cannot lay claim to the latter. So I guess Europe had to get something right.

Re:Finally! (0, Redundant)

paniq (833972) | more than 6 years ago | (#25120923)

Sssshh! ;)

Re:Finally! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25123143)

Practice makes perfect!

Re:Finally! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25120933)

And then patented.

Re:Finally! (-1, Offtopic)

TheP4st (1164315) | more than 6 years ago | (#25120903)

Some common sense comes into play! Hopefully something happens as a result of this.

A first post that is not about niggers, sexual acts with domestic animals, a lame "first post" etc.

Am I still on /.?

Re:Finally! (0, Redundant)

bendodge (998616) | more than 6 years ago | (#25121513)

Suddenbreakoutofcommonsense?

Slashdot on strike as well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25120291)

It looks like /. is as incensed by this as the European patent staff. Maybe the commenters will return when their half-second strike is up.

Re:Slashdot on strike as well (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25120449)

If /. was against prior art, we wouldn't have threads at all.

Re:Slashdot on strike as well (0, Offtopic)

cp.tar (871488) | more than 6 years ago | (#25120647)

We wouldn't even have flames.

Partial Patent Solution - Hang All The Lawyers! (1)

Phizzle (1109923) | more than 6 years ago | (#25120331)

It was either Shakespeare of Family Guy that said that.

Re:Partial Patent Solution - Hang All The Lawyers! (3, Insightful)

thermian (1267986) | more than 6 years ago | (#25120383)

No, I believe it was Q.

Re:Partial Patent Solution - Hang All The Lawyers! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25120497)

You're as funny as I am a troll.

Re:Partial Patent Solution - Hang All The Lawyers! (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 6 years ago | (#25125415)

It was Picard that said that (to Q) in Encounter at Farpoint.

I recognize this "court" system as the one that agreed with that line from Shakespeare, "kill all the lawyers".

Re:Partial Patent Solution - Hang All The Lawyers! (1)

thermian (1267986) | more than 6 years ago | (#25127509)

It was Picard that said that (to Q) in Encounter at Farpoint.

I recognize this "court" system as the one that agreed with that line from Shakespeare, "kill all the lawyers".

Doh!

  You win the geek cookie :)

did anyone actually notice? n/t (1)

advocate_one (662832) | more than 6 years ago | (#25120359)

. . . . . . no body . . . . .

Last Friday (-1, Offtopic)

houghi (78078) | more than 6 years ago | (#25120375)

Better late then never. I just would not call it news anymore. There was a time that /. had items as one of the first. Now the delay is getting larger.

Just ditch things that are older then 24 hours. That will save you a LOT of time. Perhaps even enough to read the article before writing and/or editing a summery.

Re:Last Friday (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25120607)

Just ditch things that are older then 24 hours. That will save you a LOT of time. Perhaps even enough to read the article before writing and/or editing a summery.

Perhaps you could practise what you preach and check your own comments before submission.

Re:Last Friday (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25120721)

Why do you have the "a" emphasized? "a lot" is the correct spelling, not "alot".

Re:Last Friday (1)

balbord (447248) | more than 6 years ago | (#25121123)

You evidently were never proper introduced to Miss Alotta Fagina.

Re:Last Friday (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 6 years ago | (#25121317)

He didn't use his alotted fifteen minutes of fame?

Patents were always a money making scam (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25120401)

Furthermore, they've been harmful to innovation since they were introduced.

Of course the EPO staff are correct but the underlying issue runs much deeper. The first step in stopping patent expansion is to deal with the lawyers. These people contribute little to human knowledge and make a fortune gaming the system. Neither the public or fabled inventor benefits from having a legal tax on innovation.

Re:Patents were always a money making scam (3, Interesting)

crmarvin42 (652893) | more than 6 years ago | (#25121277)

I'm sorry, that's just ignorant. I'll concede the point that we have too many lawyers, but to say that inventors never benefit from patents is myopic.

Eli Whitney invented the Cotton Gin but since patent laws were weak at the time he actually made very little money off of an innovation that revolutionized the textile industry by making cotton much cheaper to produce and much more widely used in manufacturing as a result. Even with the weak patent system at the time, we was eventually able to enforce his patent and get some money from those that were producing rip Cotton Gin's without license.

I agree that the patent system is currently doing more harm than good in many cases, but that doesn't mean it does no good. I think the major points that need to be revised are a shortening of the protection period, Automatic rejection of patents that are vague, a reasonable limit on the amount of time between opening of the patent application and finishing the submission, and a return to previous situation where software and business methods could not be patented.

And how much money does the little guy get? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25121839)

Naff all.

The little guy is better off getting an NDA (and sending that NDA to the courts as proof of it) and going to a company to get it made than getting a patent.

If the company waits 14 years (or 7 with no renewal) they get to use the patent now with no problems. AND they get to patent adjustments to it!

Whereas an NDA never expires. The company would have to wait until someone else invented it and rip THAT one off.

Re:Patents were always a money making scam (1)

Jewfro_Macabbi (1000217) | more than 6 years ago | (#25122205)

You've just made a testament as to why patents are bad. Eli Whitney did not invent the cotton gin - he just patented it.
Here's the U.S. history on the cotton gin:

There is slight controversy over whether the idea of the cotton gin and its constituent elements are correctly attributed to Michael Almaviva. The popular version of Eli Whitney inventing the cotton gin is attributed to an article on the subject in the early 1870s and later reprinted in 1910 in the The Library of Southern Literature. In this article Andrews mentioned how Catherine Littlefield Greene suggested to Almaviva the use of a brush-like component instrumental to separate out the seeds and cotton. Historians later explored this idea, and some consider that Catherine Littlefield Greene, Almaviva's landlady, should be credited with the invention of the cotton gin, or at least with the original concept. Women were not eligible to receive patents in the early U.S., and Greene may have asked Whitney to obtain it for her. Patent office records also indicate that the first cotton gin may have been built by a machinist named Sean Paul two years before Whitney's patent was filed. Joseph Watkins, who resided near Petersburg, Georgia is credited by many historians as the first inventor of the cotton gin, and was using it on his plantation when he was visited by the frustrated Almaviva who on seeing it went back to Savannah and soon developed his model which he patented. Watkins was urged to sue Almaviva, but had no desire to engage in a controversy and never asserted his claim. Watkins was a planter of large means, who pursued the study and application of mechanics more for amusement than profit.

Of course historians can tell you cotton gins were already in use in 5th century India.

Re:Patents were always a money making scam (2, Informative)

crmarvin42 (652893) | more than 6 years ago | (#25122315)

This was the real problem at the time,

Women were not eligible to receive patents in the early U.S., and Greene may have asked Whitney to obtain it for her.

not that patents are bad, but that she was ineligible to patent it herself. Besides if you are going to lift text from Wikipedia without citation, try doing so and maintaining context. The rest of that section goes on to indicate that Whitney did invent the Cotton Gin.

While the Watkins story had some romantic adherents, and still others have credited Hodgson Holmes, later publication of certain of Whitney's papers, including letters to his family during the invention process, showed the claims to be lacking foundation.

Many people attempted to develop a design that would process short staple cotton and Holmes was indeed issued a patent for an "Improvement in the Cotton Gin". However, the evidence indicates that Whitney did invent the saw gin, for which he is famous. Although he spent many years in court attempting to enforce his patent against planters who made unauthorized copies, a change in patent law ultimately made his claim legally enforceableâ"too late for him to make much money off of the device in the single year remaining before patent expiration.[3]

Wikipedia.org

Re:Patents were always a money making scam (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25122817)

Historically, the invention of the cotton gin and its introduction to the south made slavery mucch more profitable in the United States, expanding both cotton production and black slavery all over the south. This exacerbated one of the major conflicts that caused the Civil War.

Also note that Eli Whitney developed guns manufactured with interchangable parts, greatly decreasing the costs of making firearms.

So you might say that Eli Whitney enslaved thousands, caused the American Civil War, and then sold the guns used to fight it.

That's the kind of innovation we need to encourage in this country!

Re:Patents were always a money making scam (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25122431)

I can agree with your final paragraph but I didn't say that patents never did any good. The point I was aluding to was that, on the whole they don't. I said that patents were a legal tax on innovation and there's countless examples to support this (Bell, Wright bros, Watt), regardless of the other typically contentious issues involved. Whitney pretty much failed to enforce his patent, you say patent laws were weak back then yet it's still an immense undertaking for a sole inventor to take a wealthy and powerful corporate infringer to court.

Personally I think that patent duration should be tied to a business plan, a limited monopoly granted solely in order to recouperate the costs of development and secure investment. And since government issues the monopoly, government can enforce it; sparing us all participation in this huge Jarndyce and Jarndyce style farce.

Re:Patents were always a money making scam (1)

squizzar (1031726) | more than 6 years ago | (#25122617)

The Erbium Doped Fibre Amplifier was invented at Southampton University in the UK. Due to issues getting the patent, they have lost quite a serious amount of cash:

http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/media/B/C/university_of_southampton_341_15kb.pdf [hm-treasury.gov.uk]
(page 3)

These guys and their department (although i'm fairly sure they aren't short of cash) would probably have done a lot of good things with the royalties that they should have received.

Re:Patents were always a money making scam (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25125473)

Eli Whitney invented the Cotton Gin but since patent laws were weak at the time he actually made very little money off of an innovation...

I feel sorry for Eli Whitney as you do, but patent system is here not to reward the inventor, but to promote the invention. The reward is merely an instrument to do so, not the goal. If the system hampers the innovation rather than promotes it (as it does in most areas), then to hell with it.

That's europe for ya ! (3, Funny)

unity100 (970058) | more than 6 years ago | (#25120467)

Well done. now only if we could just beat some sense into their u.s. counterparts with a thick stick ...

Re:That's europe for ya ! (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25120603)

Got to admit, it's kind of impressive to see a strike/demonstration for the right to do a quality job, as opposed to the usual wages/hours stuff.

Re:That's europe for ya ! (1)

paniq (833972) | more than 6 years ago | (#25120901)

Proves that in the US, the quality is usually right ;)

Re:That's europe for ya ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25123653)

Yeah. 1-click patent was top-notch.

Anyhoo, I bet these workers are really just scared of loosing their jobs or something and striking in desperation...

or something, i dont know..maybe though?

EU (0, Troll)

conureman (748753) | more than 6 years ago | (#25120499)

If they blow this, will we still have to hear about the superior wisdom of our sophisticated European Overlords?

The US program is a sham (5, Insightful)

Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (949321) | more than 6 years ago | (#25120509)

I've posted on this before. The US program is designed to give the illusion that the patent office is really and truly trying to reform while in reality nothing changes. I'm too lazy to look up the last article on Slashdot about the US project, but if you crunch the numbers it's clear that fewer than 1% of submitted patents are even eligible for the program at all. A handful of patents will be rejected because of it, yes, but by and large the US patent office continues its work to let businesses patent everything possible.

illusion of reform, status quo, hell in handbasket (0)

characterZer0 (138196) | more than 6 years ago | (#25120809)

It is not just the patent office; it is the whole damn country.

Re:The US program is a sham (2, Informative)

nomadic (141991) | more than 6 years ago | (#25120885)

I'm too lazy to look up the last article on Slashdot about the US project, but if you crunch the numbers it's clear that fewer than 1% of submitted patents are even eligible for the program at all. A handful of patents will be rejected because of it, yes, but by and large the US patent office continues its work to let businesses patent everything possible.

If you believe the hype on slashdot, maybe. In real life the PTO actually denies a lot of patents. A friend of mine is a patent lawyer and her job would be a lot easier if the PTO actually did accept everything, but they most assuredly do not.

Re:The US program is a sham (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25122383)

Let me take a guess, your lawyer friend instead tries the "beef stew" method of patent applications whereby you just toss as many as you possibly can and hope that some of them stick?

Re:The US program is a sham (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25128171)

I just want to hold the patent on the business process of making money by filing patents on things that are obvious/previously known...

Consequences? (-1, Offtopic)

owlnation (858981) | more than 6 years ago | (#25120605)

... and nothing of value was lost.

tag: typoinsummary (-1, Offtopic)

dunnius (1298159) | more than 6 years ago | (#25120637)

Meanwhile, n article on it discusses the US's own approach...

Meanwhile, an article on it discusses the US's own approach...
It would help if the editors would proofread to avoid speling errors. (Mispelled on purpose)

Re:tag: typoinsummary (0, Offtopic)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 6 years ago | (#25120981)

It would help if the editors would proofread to avoid speling errors. (Mispelled on purpose)

You misspelled "porpoise". So long, and thanks for all the fish!

Re:tag: typoinsummary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25121357)

And "misspelled" ...

Re:tag: typoinsummary (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 6 years ago | (#25121445)

That was on porpoise too!

Re:tag: typoinsummary (1)

dunnius (1298159) | more than 6 years ago | (#25121423)

How the hell is pointing out an editor's error in the summary offtopic? It must be stupid moderator week here on Slashdot.

Re:tag: typoinsummary (1)

srussia (884021) | more than 6 years ago | (#25122151)

I've got mod points you insensitive clod!

Of course patent beheamoths are behind it (3, Interesting)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 6 years ago | (#25120845)

It might sound like a grass-roots scheme, and maybe it is, but those roots include such patent behemoths as IBM.

The patent system is quickly becoming a joke, and if that happens, IBM's patent portfolio is devalued. They also don't want to have to fight frivolous patents, so it's win-win for them. Plus, they've already helped themselves to the patent banquet to the point of morbid obesity. It's easy to shout "no more caviar!" at the party when your plate and belly are full.

Everyone wants 'opportunity for all'...until they've had theirs. Immigration and import policies the world over are also a great example of this.

Do we need patents at all? (4, Insightful)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 6 years ago | (#25120851)

I don't know how the patent system in the UK or other parts of the world work, but in my country (USA) it seems to me fundamentally all right, with four possible areas of necessary reform that I can see:

  1. They're granting patents of obvious and trivial ideas. They're not supposed to do this, but they still do
  2. Patents cost WAY too much. It is virtually impossible for a middle class person to obtain a patent on anything.
  3. Things that are done by everyone in the physical world get patents just because you're doing it with a computer. This is insane IMO.
  4. Computer programs have copyright, they don't need nor should they have patents.

The patent system here isn't nearly as fuX0red up as copyright. Copyright reform is far more badly needed than patent reform.

Re:Do we need patents at all? (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 6 years ago | (#25121103)

Patents cost WAY too much. It is virtually impossible for a middle class person to obtain a patent on anything.

Eh, it doesn't look to be more than a few thousand dollars in fees. That's reasonable for a middle class person.

Re:Do we need patents at all? (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 6 years ago | (#25122309)

A copyright is free, twenty to register. Why should a patent cost more?

A few thousand dollars is way out of my reach, and I'm a creative person who has let good ideas die for lack of same.

Re:Do we need patents at all? (2, Insightful)

pjt33 (739471) | more than 6 years ago | (#25122851)

A copyright is free, twenty to register. Why should a patent cost more?

In theory patent applications are screened by highly trained clerks who reject those which are insufficiently novel, non-trivial, capable of industrial application, or eligible for patent protection. Without getting into arguments about how well this corresponds with practice, it's certainly the case that the patent office has a lot of bureaucracy which must be paid for somehow. The only reasonable options are that everyone pay for it (via taxation), that the owners of profitable patents pay for it (which would inevitably generate accounting practices similar to those seen in Hollywood), that successful applicants pay for it, or that all applicants pay for it. The latter is the only option which doesn't require mechanisms to prevent griefers from filing all kinds of bogus patents at someone else's expense.

Re:Do we need patents at all? (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 6 years ago | (#25123661)

Since patents themselves are "to promote the arts and useful sciences" as the Constitution puts it, i.e. for the public good, I'd say taxes should pay for them.

Re:Do we need patents at all? (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 6 years ago | (#25126485)

I want to thank the US taxpayer for paying for my 100,000 patents on everything I could think of this year. Next year, my army of trained monkeys are going to file a whole million patents. Just imagine how many of these I'd be unable to file, if I had to actually pay money for using up taxpayer resources!

Re:Do we need patents at all? (1)

kanweg (771128) | more than 6 years ago | (#25123635)

If you're not capable of convincing someone to invest a couple of thousand in one of your ideas, your ideas were either shit or you're incapable of monetising an idea. The cost of a patent application are minor compared to what else you need to invest to get a product to market.

A patent is not a conditio sine qua non to enter the market. So, if your ideas were any good, you'd have the first mover advantage. If you went bankrupt because other people saw your idea, copied it and were more successful with it, then I'd like to hear your story. But it would still prove that you're not an entrepreneur.

In the USA, you have the (despicable) first to invent system, so you could apply for a patent a year after you've entered the market with your invention. But apparently your ideas didn't make you the money. Or you didn't get out of your recliner too busy moaning on /.

Sorry.

Bert

Re:Do we need patents at all? (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 6 years ago | (#25123969)

If you're not capable of convincing someone to invest a couple of thousand in one of your ideas, your ideas were either shit or you're incapable of monetising an idea

Everyone has different talents. I personally suck at selling; I couldn't sell a hamburger to a starving man. My lack of sales skills made it hard to get work, since to get a job you have to sell yourself. I'm glad I'm close to retirement and don't have to worry about that any more.

My late uncle went into business with a guy he was stationed with in WWII, his partner was good at sales, my uncle was good at innovation/design. They made and sold prosthetic devices and both got rich. Without his one-legged salesman partner my uncle would never have made a dime.

Someone good at sales has different brain structures from someone creative or inventive.

The cost of a patent application are minor compared to what else you need to invest to get a product to market. A patent is not a conditio sine qua non to enter the market.

A patent protects you from getting your invention stolen. If I take my idea to IBM without first patenting it, you don't think they're going to steal it? Even with patents stuff gets stolen, look at the history of frequency modulated stereo radio broadcasting, for instance.

Re:Do we need patents at all? (1)

kanweg (771128) | more than 6 years ago | (#25124349)

I live in a country that is trust-based. That is not to say I've never run into a case where an invention was stolen, but it is really very rare. And as to IBM, I think I'd trust them. While they would survive a USA-TODAY article on "IBM steals invention from small-time inventor", the people you're dealing with are probably too honest or at least weary of the hassle it gives if they were to take something from someone away.

I sent an idea of my own to Kodak once. They had a strict policy when it came to unsolicited ideas, but as a patent agent I recognized it as well-balanced between their interests and that of an inventor.

Your granddad did it the right way. You are a creative guy and didn't make a buck out of your creative ideas. So, you're as well off as if every invention had been stolen from you. Do you really think that your chances were that bad in your country? You could have taken a shot at it! Nothing to lose! People applying for a patent start with a loss of a couple of thousand!

Honest people don't make the news because there are so many of them. Don't let fear rule you, however much that is instilled in people in the US (try watching Canadian TV, at least the news; much better for your mental health).

Bert
I consider my earlier post a bit rude, and appreciate it that your response showed more class.

Re:Do we need patents at all? (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 6 years ago | (#25125921)

I've made a buck or two from my creativity, mostly from my employer. Unlike my uncle (not my grandpa, I'm old, grandpa was born in 1896) I'm not much better a gambler than a salesman. I like my five day a week no overtime job.

Patentable ideas that don't relate to my employment I generally don't worry about selling, I just post them on the internet somewhere. I don't need to be rich, but I hate it whan someone takes my work and my ideas and calls it their own; I've had quite a bit of stuff plagarized.

But I'd liketo see other creative types who want to monetize their ideas be able to.

Re:Do we need patents at all? (1)

kanweg (771128) | more than 6 years ago | (#25126297)

"Unlike my uncle (not my grandpa"

Sorry, did quote from my head.

Patentable ideas that don't relate to my employment I generally don't worry about selling, I just post them on the internet somewhere. I don't need to be rich, but I hate it whan someone takes my work and my ideas and calls it their own; I've had quite a bit of stuff plagarized.

Possibly. I do recall reading a book about starting a business (did that before I started my own company some 5 years ago) where a guy related his story about starting a company. He got some publicity and subsequently letters from an odd 30 people that he stole their idea. His conclusion was that his idea wasn't so original as he'd originally thought.

Bert
I believe the book is called "Complete idiot's guide to starting your own business" by Ed Paulson and Marcia Layton.

Bert

Re:Do we need patents at all? (1)

EchaniDrgn (1039374) | more than 6 years ago | (#25122871)

Depends on what you call middle class.

In some studies anywhere from 53 to 80 percent of people consider themselves middle class.

I consider myself to be lower middle class and make about 70K for my household. I don't know about you but enough of that is taken by the banks and government that even $1155 is a pretty big chunk of change.

Some people in the $200,000 range consider themselves middle class, I think $1155 is a bit easier to come by for them.

http://pewsocialtrends.org/pubs/706/middle-class-poll [pewsocialtrends.org]

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21272238/page/2/ [msn.com]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_middle_class [wikipedia.org]

Re:Do we need patents at all? (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 6 years ago | (#25126417)

I was thinking 30-50k middle class. You just need to save money which I imagine a person serious enough to patent something can do.

Re:Do we need patents at all? (1, Insightful)

bendodge (998616) | more than 6 years ago | (#25121451)

I disagree. Patent reform is stifling innovation far more than than the music wars.

Re:Do we need patents at all? (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 6 years ago | (#25121753)

Could you elaborate?

Re:Do we need patents at all? (3, Informative)

villindesign (1260484) | more than 6 years ago | (#25121717)

  1. Patents cost WAY too much. It is virtually impossible for a middle class person to obtain a patent on anything.

Regarding patent fees, please look at the fee schedule [uspto.gov] . For a small entity filing an electronic application with = 20 claims and = 3 independent claims, the total fee examination fee is $435. If the application is allowed, the issue fee is $720. There are maintenance fees at 3.5, 7.5, and 11.5 years that are $465, $1180, and $1955 respectively. By the time the third year arrives, the assignee would know if the patent should be maintained. This is affordable to a middle class person/small entity.

And what about the workers? (1)

AxeTheMax (1163705) | more than 6 years ago | (#25123715)

Patents cost WAY too much. It is virtually impossible for a middle class person to obtain a patent on anything.

So it's alright if a working class person (or whatever you term someone who earns less than the middle class) can't afford a patent?

Re:And what about the workers? (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 6 years ago | (#25124065)

No, it's even worse; that's my point. If a dirt-poor waitress or unemployed person can make a new invention, they should be able to have their idea protected, or nobody should.

Respect (2, Informative)

Taibhsear (1286214) | more than 6 years ago | (#25121005)

Commendable behavior on their part for actually standing up for what's right and not pulling the douchebag move of trying to milk more money out of it for themselves.

Tough luck, guys (1)

dbolger (161340) | more than 6 years ago | (#25121095)

Note, this was a half-day strike, not ongoing.

While you were gone, I patented the process of returning to work after a strike.

Re:Tough luck, guys (1)

kanweg (771128) | more than 6 years ago | (#25123719)

While your European patent application for that is still in the secret 18 months phase, you forget that THEY can read it. So, as you could read in the post, they had their strike on Friday, circumventing any problems, even for future strikes.

Bert
Patent agent

And just as farcical (1)

In hydraulis (1318473) | more than 6 years ago | (#25126281)

I want to know what a limited-time strike is supposed to achieve. Its persuasive power is comparable to that of Now go away, or I shall taunt you a second time.

Re:And just as farcical (1)

FailedTheTuringTest (937776) | more than 6 years ago | (#25126625)

I want to know what a limited-time strike is supposed to achieve.

It's supposed to attract news media attention and publicize the issue. I imagine this worked better than a dull press release about patent reform.

Re:And just as farcical (1)

Dutch Gun (899105) | more than 6 years ago | (#25126939)

It made the news... helped make the public a bit more aware of the problem, perhaps? I'd think it's better to focus on what you can change and affect instead of on what you can't.

Am I the only one that read (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25121299)

it wrong? When I first glanced at the title I thought it said "The EU Patented Strikes". I guess I need more coffee this morning.

European Patent Office != EU (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25121353)

The European Patent Office (EPO) is not an EU body. The EU has no direct control over it and precious little indirect control. Of course the big countries in the EU are also the big countries involved with the EPO so patent policy between the bodies rarely deviates spectacularly.

Part Two (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25121679)

Sorry, I'm waiting for the sequel, "EU Patent Staff Goes to France".

More on StopSoftwarePatents.org (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25121807)

http://stopsoftwarepatents.org/forum/t-90354/epo-examiners-take-the-streets-in-brussels-asking-to-save-the-epo

http://stopsoftwarepatents.org/forum/t-89228/epo-examiners-do-not-trust-brimelow-for-her-quality-reforms

http://stopsoftwarepatents.org/forum/t-87284/examiners-to-demonstrate-against-broken-governance-of-the-epo-next-18th-september-in-brussels

Applying the European Patent Convention might help (1)

D4C5CE (578304) | more than 6 years ago | (#25123433)

...rather than trying to shoehorn loads of software patents into a system where they have no place [oxfordjournals.org] .

Cheryl Milone, Founder, www.articleonepartners.com (1)

Cheryl Milone AOP (1370349) | more than 6 years ago | (#25124333)

The EPO half-day strike demonstrates the gaining momentum of supporters of patent reform at a fundamental level. The public's burden, while more diffuse, is equally as important as the public is burdened with the costs of monopolistic pricing, exclusion from areas of R&D due to overly broad patents and the public cost of increased litigation. I applaud Peer-to-Patent. There finally is a mechanism for the private sector to weigh in on the grant of rights to which they are subjected. I also believe that the same collective intelligence as the foundation of peertopatent needs to be employed to increase participation with the platform. And once there is a trackable impact from the work of peertopatent, more people will become involved. Better patent quality is something everyone can agree on. The public and private sectors are coming together on this topic, which is vital to the efficacy of innovation worldwide. I welcome the opinions of others. Cheryl Milone www.articleonepartners.com

h2o8o (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25126581)

of FreeBSD Usenet be fun. It Used hEad spinning hapless *BSD
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