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UK Launches 'Peer To Patent' Pilot Project

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the needs-a-leaderboard dept.

Patents 78

An anonymous reader writes "Inspired by a proposal by Beth Noveck, professor of law at New York Law School, the Minister for Intellectual Property, Baroness Wilcox, launched a UK 'Peer To Patent' pilot project to identify prior art in patent applications by harnessing the wider community of experts and engaged citizens." We could use something like that, too. Perhaps Noveck could get together with Carl Malamud to hash out a system that encourages participation.

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We could use something like that, too (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36348170)

Sorry, we Brits have prior art on that.

Re:We could use something like that, too (4, Interesting)

IAmGarethAdams (990037) | more than 3 years ago | (#36348478)

Actually we Brits don't. The service is based on the same system which already exists in the US and Australia.

Even the *submitter* didn't RTFA, which I think is a new Slashdot low.

Re:We could use something like that, too (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36348818)

Actually we Brits don't. The service is based on the same system which already exists in the US and Australia.

Even the *submitter* didn't RTFA, which I think is a new Slashdot low.

"We could use something like that, too" is Timothy's comment, not the submitter's (and there's no clues as to which country the submitter is in so if it had been the submitter then it could have been a valid comment, we just wouldn't know who "we" is). Slashdot "editor" not reading the submitted article is standard practice.

Re:We could use something like that, too (1)

IAmGarethAdams (990037) | more than 3 years ago | (#36348884)

Fair point, it never crossed my mind that the editors actually put any input in, so I just assumed the comment was the submitter's. But as for placing the comment, the reference to Carl Malamud makes it pretty US based

Re:We could use something like that, too (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36348950)

Fair point, it never crossed my mind that the editors actually put any input in, so I just assumed the comment was the submitter's.

The bit quoted from the submitter is in double quotes with a verticle bar alongside it. It's often just a piece of the article so it's easy to think that's its intended function. The bit at the end is added by the "editor".

But as for placing the comment, the reference to Carl Malamud makes it pretty US based

I don't know enough about him to necessarily get the significance (which maybe in itself identifies me as non-American) . From the Wikipedia article it is apparent that he's American but not apparent that he would only or specifically be involved in American projects.

Re:We could use something like that, too (1)

Interoperable (1651953) | more than 3 years ago | (#36349114)

Even the *submitter* didn't RTFA, which I think is a new Slashdot low.

You must be new here.

Re:We could use something like that, too (1)

suutar (1860506) | more than 3 years ago | (#36355250)

actually, the submitter may have. The editor who approved it apparently didn't.

Minister? (1)

wzzzzrd (886091) | more than 3 years ago | (#36348198)

They have a Minister of Intellectual Property? Does he work in the same building as the Ministry of Silly Walks?

Wait, this is for real?

Re:Minister? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36348228)

Some countries are not America and use different words for similar things.

Re:Minister? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36348362)

Some countries are not America

Don't they teach this in school in America?

Re:Minister? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36348390)

Only when they're trying to explain what communism and terrorism is.

Re:Minister? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36348894)

Even in America I suspect it's widely known that some countries have a "Prime Minister". It shouldn't take a towering intellect to appreciate that those countries may also have other ministers.

Re:Minister? (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36348378)

Wait, they teach Intelligent Design in state-run schools in the US? Are they backwards or something? Are they for real??

Re:Minister? (1)

sortia (1191847) | more than 3 years ago | (#36348466)

Informative? Really? They also teach ID in state-run schools in the UK too! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_Education#United_Kingdom [wikipedia.org]

Re:Minister? (2)

s0litaire (1205168) | more than 3 years ago | (#36348480)

Yes but taught in R.E. classes not Physics/Science classes...
^_^

Re:Minister? (1)

sortia (1191847) | more than 3 years ago | (#36348538)

Way off-topic... But that's semantics surely? Does a 5 year old really differentiate the weight of 2 classes on the name of the class? :-)

Re:Minister? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36348598)

Way off-topic... But that's semantics surely? Does a 5 year old really differentiate the weight of 2 classes on the name of the class? :-)

Yes, you fool. They also teach about other religions in that class. They don't come home every day thinking that they're Muslim Hindu Christians.

Re:Minister? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36348608)

RE classes are something different than what you're thinking.

Re:Minister? (2)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#36348616)

It wouldn't be taught at 5, R.E. classes start around 11. And yes, it makes a big difference which class things are being taught in. You could teach kids Star Trek "physics" in Physics classes and a lot of them would just take it at face value, without questioning. If instead you taught them the same things in an English science fiction module, they would know it wasn't real.

Re:Minister? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36348688)

ID is not taught in RE classes in the UK. ID is not part of the bible or any other religious text. RE classes cover "creation stories" only, so they will teach (in the section on Christianity) that God created the Earth in 7 days, but they will not present any "evidence" for this or treat it as if it is more "true" than the other religion's stories. RE classes also spend quite a while teaching the difference between faith and knowledge. UK RE classes are probably less damaging to students than US science classes.

Re:Minister? (2)

KillAllNazis (1904010) | more than 3 years ago | (#36348804)

Everyone in my entire year at least knew RE was a joke class.

Re:Minister? (2)

dave420 (699308) | more than 3 years ago | (#36349672)

It's not taught as fact. It's simply taught as "this is what some Christians believe". In science classes it is nowhere to be found. RE is comparative religious education, and in no way indoctrination of any kind.

Re:Minister? (0)

jopsen (885607) | more than 3 years ago | (#36348424)

Wait, this is for real?

Most, likely in Denmark we have a ministry of gender equality :)

Re:Minister? (1)

Calydor (739835) | more than 3 years ago | (#36348788)

And I still say we need a minister there who's in the middle of a gender change operation. No one else can call themselves fully qualified!

Re:Minister? (3, Informative)

xaxa (988988) | more than 3 years ago | (#36348574)

They have a Minister of Intellectual Property? Does he work in the same building as the Ministry of Silly Walks?

Wait, this is for real?

Here's the list [cabinetoffice.gov.uk] of ministers.

But if you find the words amusing I think you'll have more fun with "Assistant Government Whip", or "Lords Chief Whip". This is what happens when you're country has had a parliament for approaching 800 years. You have a Secretary of the Treasury, we have a Chancellor of the Exchequer :-)

Re:Minister? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36349778)

Don't forget about the department of 'ealth and 'uman services.

Re:Minister? (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 3 years ago | (#36349890)

But if you find the words amusing I think you'll have more fun with "Assistant Government Whip", or "Lords Chief Whip". This is what happens when you're country has had a parliament for approaching 800 years.

Even our mere 200-year-old Congress has a "Minority Whip".

Re:Minister? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36423210)

Well, how else are you going to keep your minorities in line?

Great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36348206)

Surely this is a tacit admission that the patent office is not capable of doing it's job? How much do I get paid as an external consultant for doing the examiners jobs for them?

Re:Great (1)

IAmGarethAdams (990037) | more than 3 years ago | (#36348380)

Maybe the patent office have realised that, rather than pay someone for their hard work producing patent reports, they can download them for free over the Internet from a P2P network?

Re:Great (4, Informative)

RDW (41497) | more than 3 years ago | (#36348596)

'Surely this is a tacit admission that the patent office is not capable of doing it's job?'

Maybe because some of these patents are written in such impenetrable English that they might as well have come from a Cylon base ship hybrid:

http://peertopatent.org.uk/patent/2458182/claim/0003/show [peertopatent.org.uk]

'...wherein prior to initiating encryption of said data said further processing device initiates generation of a secure signature from said data and initiates encryption of said secure signature and storing of said secure signature along with said secure data; and in response to receipt of said signal to resume said task said further processing device initiates retrieval of said encrypted secure signature and decryption of said encrypted secure signature and following decryption of said encrypted secure data initiates generation of said secure signature from said decrypted encrypted data and S comparison of said generated secure signature with said decrypted secure signature; and in response to said generated secure signature not matching said decrypted secure signature said further processing device issues an signal to said data processor to indicate that said data has been tampered with; and in response to said generated secure signature matching said decrypted secure signature said further processing device resumes said task using said decrypted data; mists of dreams drip along the nascent echo and love no more. End of line.'

Re:Great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36348832)

Maybe because some of these patents are written in such impenetrable English that they might as well have come from a Cylon base ship hybrid:

Dear patent applicant,

Thankyou for your recent patent application. Upon examination of said application, one or more examiners at this office has discerned that the invention may or may not be an invention. Said examiner(s) may consider said application for said non-invention to lack novelity or to be deliberately constructed using obfuscated language and/or semantics in an attempt to game the system as is commonly done to patent non-inventions that lie in the fields of excluded subject matter.

As the above may be phrased so that it is properly understood by those "skilled in the art"; "Stop taking the piss"!

So say we all!

Re:Great (1)

Inda (580031) | more than 3 years ago | (#36348842)

This one is about passworded ZIP files. A dialog pops up when the operation is complete. ;-)

Re:Great (1)

Have Brain Will Rent (1031664) | more than 3 years ago | (#36353682)

The problem you are having understanding the text rests in your assumption that it is written in English. It is not, it is written in Lawyerish. You just need a Lawyerish to English translator.

It's Anarchy! (2)

Nrrqshrr (1879148) | more than 3 years ago | (#36348226)

I know this is kind of unrelated to TFA, but let me say something I enjoy thinking of: Decentralization is on the way.

More and more, governments and corps realize that a single entity to enforce law is nowhere near as efficient as it used to be.
Having a police or a cyberpolice to track crimes and enforce whatever you thought was right used to be quite efficient. But the ease at which people communicate and exchange informations or objects now makes it nearly impossible (if not totally) to monitor what every single one does. Sure they could cross that fated line and start walking into people's privacy for no appearant reason, but they should prepare for a mob of "mah freedon of spech!!!11!".
Point is, it's now much safer to rely on people themselves (the educated kind, of course (whatever the fuck that means)) to regulate the rest. But it's putting the very existence of a government, and more generally, of a single law enforcing entity, in question. Slowly. Everytime.

Feels good to believe in Anarchy.

Re:It's Anarchy! (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 3 years ago | (#36348318)

I know this is kind of unrelated to TFA, but let me say something I enjoy thinking of: Decentralization is on the way.

More and more, governments and corps realize that a single entity to enforce law is nowhere near as efficient as it used to be.
Having a police or a cyberpolice to track crimes and enforce whatever you thought was right used to be quite efficient. But the ease at which people communicate and exchange informations or objects now makes it nearly impossible (if not totally) to monitor what every single one does. Sure they could cross that fated line and start walking into people's privacy for no appearant reason, but they should prepare for a mob of "mah freedon of spech!!!11!".

Point is, it's now much safer to rely on people themselves (the educated kind, of course (whatever the fuck that means)) to regulate the rest. But it's putting the very existence of a government, and more generally, of a single law enforcing entity, in question. Slowly. Everytime.

Feels good to believe in Anarchy.

The Gestapo called. They claim prior art for networking.

Re:It's Anarchy! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36348440)

An anarchy does nothing to ensure that it is the educated people doing the regulation of the others. Most governmental systems do at least try to put power preferentially into the hands of the competent, rather than in the hands of the rich, the famous, or the people holding big guns.

Re:It's Anarchy! (1)

dokc (1562391) | more than 3 years ago | (#36348512)

An anarchy does nothing to ensure that it is the educated people doing the regulation of the others. Most governmental systems do at least try to put power preferentially into the hands of the competent, rather than in the hands of the rich, the famous, or the people holding big guns.

Most governmental systems do at least theoretically try to put power preferentially into the hands of the competent, rather than in the hands of the rich, the famous, or the people holding big guns.

Practically, the power is in the hands of the rich, famous people holding big guns.

Re:It's Anarchy! (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 3 years ago | (#36351152)

Practically, the power is in the hands of the rich, famous people holding big guns.

Only because the people permit it, having been brainwashed by the rich people with guns since birth to accept that this is a sane way of organising society.

Re:It's Anarchy! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36348644)

Most governmental systems do at least try to put power preferentially into the hands of the competent, rather than in the hands of the rich, the famous, or the people holding big guns.

In your dreams, maybe.

like who? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36348740)

i do not think education means what you think it means, and that you are probably educated beyond your intelligence.

education is, for one centralization, look up information theory... simple example? ivy league schools and the balance of power in most western countries.

please define educated kind, lols and the uneducated kind(s) in your book...

Re:It's Anarchy! (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 3 years ago | (#36351122)

Point is, it's now much safer to rely on people themselves (the educated kind, of course (whatever the fuck that means)) to regulate the rest. But it's putting the very existence of a government, and more generally, of a single law enforcing entity, in question. Slowly. Everytime.
Feels good to believe in Anarchy.

Yeah, and all of us educated people should be able to regulate all those fucking plebs, although luckily we won't have to bother with all that tiresome democracy and shit.
I'd rather have an elected government and democratically accountable law enforcement structure than a society run by a bunch of arrogant, morally bankrupt psychopaths.
You're describing fascism, not anarchy.

A good start.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36348254)

..although I think looking for prior art in already-issued patents is shutting the gate after the horse has bolted. While I don't think we should slow down the examination of patents- certainly, the authorities have enough of a backlog to deal with as is- perhaps a disincentive should exist for requesting a patent before doing a proper examination, say, a billion dollar fine if prior art kills your patent. There's certainly this impression that, especially in the software realm (I know software patents don't exist in the EU but bear with me,) the big players tend to request a lot of patents without making sure that each one is a novel invention that hasn't been done before.

Not a win (4, Insightful)

ciaran_o_riordan (662132) | more than 3 years ago | (#36348276)

This may help or slightly harm the situation.

We have a problem with thickets of patents, like the 900+ patents in the MPEG LA portfolio. Weeding out a few here and there will not help.

In the 90s, there were problems with single patents (public key crypto, LZW, etc.), but corporations nowadays don't gamble their monopolies on single patents. They use thickets.

The USA have been trying peer-to-patent, but there's no visible change in the patent problem there. What we need, for software, is abolition.

http://en.swpat.org/wiki/Patent_review_by_the_public [swpat.org]
http://en.swpat.org/wiki/Raising_examination_standards_wouldn't_fix_much [swpat.org]

Re:Not a win (1)

Sabriel (134364) | more than 3 years ago | (#36348504)

What we need, for patents, is abolition.

The patent system is fundamentally a legalised protection racket.

It does not allow independent innovation and it is exploited by the already powerful to exclude poorer parties. It also does not scale, and rather than recognise this, the idiots in government think that in addition to bearing this millstone around our necks, we should contribute our own labour towards making it even bigger?

Re:Not a win (1)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 3 years ago | (#36350178)

I still think that short patents can be a positive force. It IS true that research do not bear immediate benefits and that it is more profitable to be a copycat than an innovator. The cost of research in software is so low that such a protection is ridiculous, but I can see why some other fields would like to enjoy some kind of protection. Also note that a patent mandates to explain how a given process works and means that after a period (currently 20 years, we should shorten that) imitation becomes fair game.

Re:Not a win (1)

Sabriel (134364) | more than 3 years ago | (#36351268)

Also note that a patent mandates to explain how a given process works and means that after a period (currently 20 years, we should shorten that) imitation becomes fair game.

In theory, that's true; in practice, corporate strategy is to build those "patent thickets" that the GP mentioned: a large set of adjacent/overlapping patents, with new patents filed every so often that are often merely minor advancements/alterations of the old patents. The end result that if you try to use an expired patent from someone's thicket as a basis for your own new innovation, it will be similar enough to the new patents to come under legal fire (and even if it isn't, by the time the lawyers are done, the point will be moot).

Yes, in theory, such slight advancements/alterations should not be patentable; in practice, the burden of distinguishing between true innovations and mere incremental advances (if that) is overwhelming.

tldr: The patent system is fundamentally flawed. We approach (or have reached) that region in the graph where the negatives overtake the positives.

Patents are fundametally theft (1)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 3 years ago | (#36353700)

I still think that short patents can be a positive force.

Patents are fundamentally theft. Party A works for X years on idea G. Party B works for X years on idea G. Both achieve success (in patent terms, a working implementation.) The patent system will arbitrarily completely zero out the worth of time and investment of the last party in the door at the patent office. This is theft, pure and simple. There's no way to sugar coat it.

The only fair thing to do is let both these innovations be brought to market without prejudice towards either one. But the system isn't designed to be fair (again, like the rest of the legal system.) It's designed to favor moneyed interests, who can apply $$$ to a process to make it go faster.

Another example: It is entirely possible that Joe Inventor, working in his garage in his spare time, has put in less hours on the same idea as BigCorpInc, but because Joe Inventor has to split his time with a Real Job, his idea actually makes it to the patent office later, given that they both start at the same time. Joe was faster by any sane measuring system, he's clearly the better inventor, but the system rewards the *moneyed* inventor and utterly screws Joe. It's bloody well completely broken.

What we need here is a truly free market. No more patents. No more lawsuits. What we're going to get is screwed.

Re:Not a win (1)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 3 years ago | (#36353564)

What we need, for patents, is abolition.
What we need, for patents, is abolition.

That's exactly right. The US patent system -- and most of the US legal system -- is utterly broken as far as being anything that is intended to serve the needs of the citizens in general.

However, as the citizens in general are no longer in any semblance of control, nor is there a mechanism remaining in place by which they can restore control, nothing is going to change.

It already exists in the US (5, Informative)

Halo1 (136547) | more than 3 years ago | (#36348292)

US version: http://peertopatent.org/ [peertopatent.org]

The problem is that this approach is the world upside down. The correct approach would be that the polluter pays: make patent applicants put a certain amount of money into escrow (more and more general claims = larger amount of money), and if prior art is found then this money goes to the person/institution that dug it up (either the patent office or a third party).

This way you compensate people for spending their time on rooting out bad patents/claims, rather than more or less forcing them to do it for free because otherwise they may be badly affected by the granted patents.

Re:It already exists in the US (1)

SkunkPussy (85271) | more than 3 years ago | (#36348462)

yes - now we would have an incentive for finding prior art. Maybe businesses would be set up purely to locate prior art for patents.

give this man a medal.

Re:It already exists in the US (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36348634)

Yes. Those companies would be called....

in
    5...4...3...2..1..0

Patent Trolls - Those who troll through patents identifying those which are wrong, badly written, obvious and have prior art.

Re:It already exists in the US (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#36348656)

And now "the little guy" would have no way in hell of ever getting a patent filed, since only already-big businesses would be able to afford it.

Re:It already exists in the US (1)

delinear (991444) | more than 3 years ago | (#36348858)

So scale it. If you've filed less than 20 patents it could cost practically nothing, if you've filed hundreds the price goes up massively since, at that point, you've either made a fortune off your prior patents, or you're a patent troll, or you're just polluting the patent system. You'd need a way to prevent companies working out loopholes with patents in named people's names that revert to them, or umbrella companies, etc but it wouldn't be a bad start.

Re:It already exists in the US (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#36349072)

I think such scaling is a good idea, but it should depend on the number of patents filed within a certain period of time, rather than in absolute terms.

Re:It already exists in the US (1)

Unequivocal (155957) | more than 3 years ago | (#36352164)

Or make it the "freemium" model (even if I do hate that word) - where you can apply for (say) 3 patents per year with no "prior art surcharge." 4-10 patents = $1000 each. 20 = $2000 each, etc?

Re:It already exists in the US (1)

Halo1 (136547) | more than 3 years ago | (#36349992)

Filing good patents could actually be made cheaper under this system, since the polluters would be paying their dues. You'd probably also soon get insurance-style companies paying the escrow for you in return for an insurance fee. Coupled with cheaper filing fees, it could well be a wash in the end.

Re:It already exists in the US (1)

Calydor (739835) | more than 3 years ago | (#36348848)

I'm so gonna patent that business idea.

I've the best solution (and cheaper) (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36348300)

And it's: ERASE the IP Rights. If we, as HUMANITY, want to evolute, we must ERRADICATE what it's a scourge to the society and what impossibilitate new creations.

So, as said, no IP in no-way (knowledge is not a "property"), just the "right to authority recognition" (who are the author and need recognition). Every right else, to the trashbin. So, no need for lawyers, no need for ministers, no need for any unusefulness.

Now, it's the moment. Now, it's our chance.

Sincerely,
  Franz

Re:I've the best solution (and cheaper) (1)

js_sebastian (946118) | more than 3 years ago | (#36348758)

And it's: ERASE the IP Rights. If we, as HUMANITY, want to evolute, we must ERRADICATE what it's a scourge to the society and what impossibilitate new creations.

I'm not 100% sure about impossibilitate, but I can promise you that ERRADICATE is not a word. Please spell-check your all-caps words at least...

Funny story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36348344)

Beth Noveck, Carl Malamud, and Baroness Wilcox, the minister for intellectual property, on their epic journey to Mars!

First to File (2)

VortexCortex (1117377) | more than 3 years ago | (#36348366)

First off, this is awesome! Secondly, now that the US is "first to file" we could adopt this very system too -- There's no good reason to keep any part of the patent application secret (as similar projects have in the previous US & AU pilots). I mean... Why not give the public a few leads to go on when searching for prior art? We are doing their jobs for them, the PTO might as well give us the tools/information we need to work with (otherwise: Hamstring much?).

The secrecy needs to be barred outright: If a patent is valid, who cares if someone uses your idea sooner; This just means you can make money on it sooner. If the patent is invalid, well, that's the risk you take when you seek a legal monopoly over an idea... Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Since the purported purpose of patents is to get the ideas to the public (for the betterment of society) then this is a win on both accounts.

I used to believe that the US patent system was fundamentally flawed because they have no test for obviousness (hint: just because no one already patented it doesn't mean it's not obvious), and that they are trying to filter an entire world's prior art via a relatively small number of examiners in a relatively short period of time (the odds of that working out for the benefit of society are inconceivable!).

However, with some of the ridiculous, and outright wrong patents (swinging on swings, duplicate patents, "on-the fly" hash table modifications, etc.) It's apparent that the applications aren't even being read (esp. not by anyone who's even remotely "skilled in the arts").

I seriously hope this pilot project becomes permanent, and that the World adopts a similar public standard test (though 90 days is a bit short, esp. when granting monopolies that could destroy entire markets). Then, we could be sure that the patent filings will actually have a chance of being read by people other than those who have a vested interest in granting more patents...

P.S. If this practice were made permanent it would cause me to release more of my code as FLOSS just to provide more proof of prior art (another win for the claimed mission patents serve) -- currently I've been close sourcing a few things because my code being open makes it too easy for patent trolls...

Re:First to File (1)

Trivial Solutions (1724416) | more than 3 years ago | (#36348450)

I don't delete symbols from my hash symbol tables, unless you really want to. This prevents dependency problems for old symbols which are being overshadowed by newer symbols. Function name symbols in the table tell the JIT compiler where the code for the function is. If you compile a newer JIT function, it overshadows the old.

Re:First to File (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36348798)

Secondly, now that the US is "first to file" we could adopt this very system too --

Yeah, no... not yet. House vote yet to go. http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=s112-23 [govtrack.us]

Re:First to File (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36350528)

... now that the US is "first to file" we could adopt this very system too

This is not the law. It looks likely to pass, but we're not there yet.

Re:First to File (1)

StillNeedMoreCoffee (123989) | more than 3 years ago | (#36352544)

I thought that the "First to File" law (if passed) would remove the whole idea of prior art invalidating a Patent. Am I wrong?

Re:First to File (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | more than 3 years ago | (#36353144)

"First to File" doesn't remove "no prior art" requirement.

Re:First to File (1)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 3 years ago | (#36353160)

I thought that the "First to File" law (if passed) would remove the whole idea of prior art invalidating a Patent. Am I wrong?

Yes.

First-to-file (or, in the US proposal, "first inventor to file", intended to note some remaining differences between the US proposal and other countries' systems) would simply mean that applicants would no longer be permitted to get an earlier invention date than the date they filed their application.

In current US law, prior art under 35 USC 102(a) and 102(e) can be "sworn behind" if the applicant can show that they invented their invention before the publication date (for (a), which covers publications) or filing date (for (e), which covers competing patent applications) of the prior art reference. This takes into account a one-year grace period for filing an application, so if there's a publication that predates the filing date of the application by a year, then it's covered under 102(b) and can't be sworn behind. (This is the short short version - I'm not covering things like interferences, conception, reduction to practice, due diligence, etc. here.)

The new proposal would keep the one-year grace period against publications but would always give priority to the earlier-filed application as long as the applicant actually invented the claimed subject matter. (Again, this is the short version - though interferences are eliminated, there are various complications that crop up in this system, too.)

"We could use something like that, too." (1)

Legal.Troll (2002574) | more than 3 years ago | (#36348408)

When you say "we", do you mean the United States? Because there's already such a program in place at... you guessed it... the same law school whose prof made the proposal to the UK IP minister.

But, you would have had to read the feature article to know that.

Someone has to state the obvious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36348692)

blah blah blah the system is broken blah blah blah

Differences (1)

ledow (319597) | more than 3 years ago | (#36348730)

The patent system isn't actually that bad in the UK. We don't have software patents, which are a ridiculously stupid idea, for instance. Thus this doesn't really solve pretty much the biggest problem in patent law anywhere in the world - US software patents.

If I were to write an iPhone app, and it gets sold on the US iPhone app store, some moron can try to sue me because I used anti-aliases fonts, or whatever, even if in my own country that's a meaningless and invalid patent. That will probably get my app revoked, provide me with huge negative publicity and cost a bomb to defend.

Sadly, most of the big online sites and services are US-based. Steam, iTunes, Amazon Kindle Store, etc. It saddens me that a percentage of the money I spend goes on fighting people who basically claim to have an exclusive right to "1+1=2" (or applying technique X to technical device Y where the two weren't married before but where the connection is blatantly and blindingly obvious to anyone who knows about X at all) under a law that doesn't exist in my own country or even the majority of countries in the world.

"Real" patents aren't much of a problem. They really aren't and haven't been for centuries. It's just this stupid "intellectual property" definition, and stupid patent checking, that somehow manages to incriminate people using an OK button in a piece of software, or whatever other insanities have passed through the US patent system where other countries would exclude the entire category, question the originality and obviousness, and do a half-decent search for prior art before granting anything.

Re:Differences (1)

ocularsinister (774024) | more than 3 years ago | (#36349010)

Sorry, but we *do* have software patents again as far as I can tell. There was a brief spell between 2006 and 2008 when we didn't, but they are back and in full effect.

Quoting from [wikipedia.org]

"...permitting claims to computer programs if claims to a method performed by running a suitably programmed computer or to a computer programmed to carry out the method were themselves allowable."

I am not a lawyer, but to me that means pretty much any software patent will be accepted provided the language of the patent is suitably constructed. This is similar, as far as I can tell, to the way that software patents became allowable in the U.S.

Re:Differences (2)

ledow (319597) | more than 3 years ago | (#36349442)

If other words - if the underlying method was allowable, the computerised version was also allowable.

The point is that "business method" and other nonsensical mathematical processes aren't allowable. I.e. you could have patented computer-controlled ABS in a car (because it was new, innovative, non-obvious, and the computer wasn't necessary to the invention) but you STILL can't patent ways to advertise at clients using sounds (because that's a business method patent, is obvious, has prior art, etc. and thus is invalid whether you do it on a PC, or a cloud-farm, or on paper).

What that says is that the computer program DOES NOT form part of the patent unless the job it is doing DOES (in which case it can't just be, say, anti-aliasing a font because that's just a matrix multiplication and anti-aliasing has been applied to everything in the past and doing it on a computer or to a font makes no difference).

The UK doesn't have software patents. We have a tiny piece of case law (which is easily overruled because the EU-wide law it's based on doesn't have that) above and beyond the EU's blanket "no-software-patents" policy, none of which really affects the outcome unless it's an extremely close call about whether something is patentable AT ALL (and the fact of it being software or not is completely incidental)

What's wrong with software patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36349754)

I recently met a patent lawyer socially here in the UK, who seemed surprised when I mentioned to him that software developers thought that software patents were a problem. I tried to tell him about the impracticality of avoiding infringement by finding matches between a large code base, and a large collection of current and pending patents to find potential conflicts - though my argument lacked force as I have never attempted, and do not know anyone who has ever attempted such a thing. I wonder if anyone had really tried to do this, or made a realistic estimate of the cost of doing so?

Quit whining (2)

Animats (122034) | more than 3 years ago | (#36350830)

Most of the whining I read about patents is from people who don't do much original work.

The MPEG issue isn't a patent validity issue, anyway. It's an antitrust issue. Narrow patents are easy to get but only useful in areas where there's a de-facto standard. Classics in this area were the Hayes modem escape sequence patent (wait, send "+++", wait), the GIF compression patent, and the DOS file system long name patent. Each was quite narrow, and there were other ways to do something equivalent. But because the dominant company in the industry was able to establish a de-facto standard in that area, with which others had to be compatible, it was hard to work around the patents.

Note the phrase "dominant company in the industry". That's a phrase from antitrust law. Only a company with a monopoly, or a trust (which MPEG-LA is) can exploit a narrow patent in that way. If the US DOJ had an antitrust operation that was as aggressive as it was from 1940 to 1970, we wouldn't have this problem.

Oh, great! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36354662)

Now we gotta do the job of the Patent Offices!

I'd prefer they get stuffed. Once and for ever.

The European Patent Office head first, granting software patents hand over fist in spite of the Parliament's decision and the constituent's will.

Criminals.

Help solve the problem for granted patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36359398)

Article One Partners is doing something similar but to validate the quality of already granted patents. They're doing a study on the MacroSolve software patents now. Get involved and help demolish these patents.

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