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Former Google Lawyer Michelle Lee To Run US Patent Office

timothy posted about 4 months ago | from the insiders-and-outsiders dept.

Google 91

First time accepted submitter Tigger's Pet writes "The BBC report that 'Google's former top patent lawyer has been put in charge of America's patent and trademark office (USPTO). Michelle Lee was made deputy director of the USPTO this week and will run the agency while it seeks a new boss. Ms Lee joined the patent office after leaving Google in June 2012 but said the opinions of her former employer would not guide her work.' Maybe she will use her knowledge from some of the insanity she has seen to actually tackle the current situation of patents, patent-trolling and lawsuits, so that companies can concentrate on true development which benefits all their users, not just the lawyers."

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91 comments

Expropriate the bourgeoisie! Workers to power! (1, Interesting)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | about 4 months ago | (#45696267)

"You are horrified at our intending to do away with private property. But in your existing society, private property is already done away with for nine-tenths of the population; its existence for the few is solely due to its non-existence in the hands of those nine-tenths. You reproach us, therefore, with intending to do away with a form of property, the necessary condition for whose existence is the non-existence of any property for the immense majority of society.

"In one word, you reproach us with intending to do away with your property. Precisely so; that is just what we intend." -MARX & ENGELS, 1848

We need COMMUNISM NOW!

Re:Expropriate the bourgeoisie! Workers to power! (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45696555)

Marxism != Communism.

Marxism is an economic system.

Communism is a political system.

Not your fault. You are a victim of decades of Capitalist propaganda.

Re:Expropriate the bourgeoisie! Workers to power! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45696881)

Capitalism is an economic system. Propaganda is a political tool.

Not your fault. You are a tool too.

Re:Expropriate the bourgeoisie! Workers to power! (-1, Offtopic)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 4 months ago | (#45697169)

Capitalism is an economic system. Propaganda is a political tool.

That go together like a horse and carriage.
This I tell ya, brother, you can't have one without the other.
Try, try, try to separate them, it's an illusion.
Try, try, try and you only come to this conclusion:

Re:Expropriate the bourgeoisie! Workers to power! (0)

HiThere (15173) | about 4 months ago | (#45697615)

While it's true that Communism has the same relationship to communism that the Libertarian Party has to libertarianism, and that Marxism is something yet again different (and never, ever, tried...probably impossible to try), the distinction that you are making between economics and politics is an illusion.

It is true that there are some elements in economics that are based on physical reality. They are a small minority of the elements on which there is ANY disagreement between, say, Marx and Keyes. Or even Marx and Ayn Rand. Mostly economics is based on political theory, and is not actually subject to experimental test. (Well, not most. Most places where there is any disagreement.) Even the Nihilists agree with most evidentially based economics. But most statements propounded as economics are either politics or theology.

Re:Expropriate the bourgeoisie! Workers to power! (1, Offtopic)

Darri (948351) | about 4 months ago | (#45697673)

This is simply wrong.

Communism is indeed an economic system, like capitalism.

The political system you seem to equate with communism is totalitarianism, but that is a direct result of propaganda, much like the joining of capitalism with democracy in the heads of most people.

We've seen a lot of totalitarian communism throughout history, as well as some democratic capitalism, but instead of experimenting with democratic communism we seem to be heading full steam in the direction of totalitarian capitalism (such as Taiwan, Singapore and most recently China).

Re:Expropriate the bourgeoisie! Workers to power! (1)

master5o1 (1068594) | about 4 months ago | (#45700825)

All politicians are economists. They are in charge of making sure the economy is balanced, the public funds are spent correctly, and that any service the government runs is quantified in financial terms.

Re:Expropriate the bourgeoisie! Workers to power! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45721301)

It was Marx who came up with Communism.

I don't think Ms. Lee is a bourgeois (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45699055)

Please look at the background of Ms. Lee.

I do not think that she is a bourgeois

http://www.asianpacificfund.org/board-members/michelle-k-lee [asianpacificfund.org]

Michelle received her bachelor and master of science degrees in computer science and electrical engineering, both from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and her law degree from Stanford Law School.

Prior to law school, she worked as a computer science researcher at Hewlett Packard Company and the M.I.T. Artificial Intelligence Laboratory.

Upon graduating from Stanford, she clerked for Judge Vaughn Walker on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. Thereafter, she clerked on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C. for Judge Paul Michel.

This gal worked her way up the ladder, one step at a time.

Re:Expropriate the bourgeoisie! Workers to power! (1)

couchslug (175151) | about 4 months ago | (#45699715)

Total expropriation requires killing all who resist and taking their property by force, so that's been done.
The end result of building those mechanisms for expropriation is that they redirect the path to personal security and self-advancement from capitalist property acquisition to outright power aquisition. They also require exceptionally ruthless people (yes, kids, worse than CEOs) so that is who rises to power after Communist revolts. The Bolshevik is better adapted for survival than the Menshevik so they win.
In the moral context of a Communist takeover it's fine to be at the leading edge, a Commissar or NKVD man or whatever. Pacifists etc can be shot and need not be debated because the mechanism for takeover is already in place. Peaceful resistance doesn't work against Serious People. If an Aung San Suu Kyi pops up, Serious People shoot them before they gain traction.
Marks and Engels were theorists unburdened by having to make their ideas work in practice (those ideas can't scale), but their theory is found delectable where Capitalism is allowed to go UNMODERATED by Socialism.
Moderate Socialism, as jobs are destroyed by advancing technology, is more logical and reasonable by far than Communism or (unmoderated) Capitalism.
Unfortunately extremes appeal to simpletons looking for solutions.

Re:Expropriate the bourgeoisie! Workers to power! (1)

TFAFalcon (1839122) | about 4 months ago | (#45701457)

I don't understand why expropriation requires more killing then the status quo. Just pass a law to do it and suddenly every bank account and share belongs to the government. That's 99% of the work done already.

Are you serious? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45696277)

Yes, she's going to use her experience to right what's wrong with the patent system. That's totally how the revolving door works.

Re:Are you serious? (5, Funny)

davester666 (731373) | about 4 months ago | (#45696619)

What are you saying?

The US gov't has a long history of hiring/appointing people from industry to work in order to improve the system. It works every time.

Re:Are you serious? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45696795)

I know you jest, but in case anyone doesn't get it: only updated laws can really fix the patent problem. Sure, a better administrator might be able to squeeze a bit more budget out of somewhere and have some marginal effect on how many obviously bad patents get through. But it won't have much effect. What is required is what everyone knows: no software patents. Only congress (with a little C because they currently suck to much for a capital) can fix that.

Really. (5, Funny)

Bovius (1243040) | about 4 months ago | (#45696281)

"...but said the opinions of her former employer would not guide her work."

I wonder if she rolled her eyes and winked after saying this.

This is one of those situations where I think the chosen person could actually do an enormous amount of good if they had the will to, but I have little to no hope that that will be the actual outcome.

Re:Really. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45696345)

She will be working in the Obama administration. I assure you she will be a crony corporatist puppet.

Re:Really. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45696469)

She will be working in the Obama administration. I assure you she will be a crony corporatist puppet.

You tell''em!

Back in the days of the Bush Administration, we NEVER had to worry about Crony Capitalism! Why Dick Cheney HIMSELF made sure that Afgan and Iraq wars were supplied by the most transparent and competitively bid government contracts EVER!

I miss Bush! With the economy the way it is, it's obvious that we need more wars to boost the economy. Fuck it! Let's invade Syria AND Iran!

After all, there are MILLIONS of unemployed young people in this country and what better purpose for them than to die for a bogu...necessary war to fight for Freedom!

Freedom isn't Free - ya know!

Re:Really. (5, Insightful)

king neckbeard (1801738) | about 4 months ago | (#45696885)

Bush being a crony corporatist doesn't mean Obama isn't also a crony corporatist. In fact, if they have an (R) or a (D) in front of their name, they are probably a crony corporatist.

Re:Really. (-1, Flamebait)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about 4 months ago | (#45697523)

Bush being a crony corporatist doesn't mean Obama isn't also a crony corporatist. In fact, if they have an (R) or a (D) in front of their name, they are probably a crony corporatist.

Spoken like a true Ayn Rand Paul Coo Coo Nut. .

How's the tea? A bit bitter?

Re:Really. (1, Offtopic)

king neckbeard (1801738) | about 4 months ago | (#45697669)

Yes, only objectivists think that both major parties in the US politicans are by and large crony corporatists, not anybody with even moderate knowledge of our political realities and the slightest bit of cynicism. For fuck's sake, calling me an occupier would have made more sense if you are going to pigeonhole me.

Re:Really. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45697787)

I see the Parent comment was spot-on... Consider switching to a smoother brew. Chamomile with a little valerian root might do you well.

Or, more likely, you just need to grow up.

The Truth (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45698099)

The problem with you Tea Baggers is that you're shrill and can't take criticism without flipping out like narcissistic teenager.

Re:The Truth (0)

king neckbeard (1801738) | about 4 months ago | (#45698199)

That's your definition of flipping out? You must be quite sheltered, then. Also, calling me a Tea Bagger doesn't mean that I'm a Tea Party member or that I share their philosophy. People have disliked both republicans and democrats before 2008. In fact, I don't know if I've met more than a handful of people that have ever liked republicans or democrats. They just hate one party more than the other.

Re:The Truth (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45706899)

trololololol, looks like the Tea Bagger has lost another one to the trolls!

Re:Really. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45697677)

It tastes better than the Korporate Krony Kool-Aid that you seem to enjoy so much.

Re:Really. (1)

Urza9814 (883915) | about 4 months ago | (#45704625)

Bush being a crony corporatist doesn't mean Obama isn't also a crony corporatist. In fact, if they have an (R) or a (D) in front of their name, they are probably a crony corporatist.

Spoken like a true Ayn Rand Paul Coo Coo Nut. .

How's the tea? A bit bitter?

Every socialist or anarchist or even "progressive democrat" I know would say the exact same thing regarding the major parties being corporatist. In fact, the main problem we all have with the Libertarian (as in the party, not the concept) or "Tea Party" types is that they're the only ones we can find who would argue AGAINST this concept! Although even many of them will take this corruption as a given -- they just consider it to be beneficial for some twisted reason...

Re:Really. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45715195)

She will be working in the Obama administration. I assure you she will be a crony corporatist puppet.

You tell''em!

Back in the days of the Bush Administration, we NEVER had to worry about Crony Capitalism! Why Dick Cheney HIMSELF made sure that Afgan and Iraq wars were supplied by the most transparent and competitively bid government contracts EVER!

I miss Bush! With the economy the way it is, it's obvious that we need more wars to boost the economy. Fuck it! Let's invade Syria AND Iran!

After all, there are MILLIONS of unemployed young people in this country and what better purpose for them than to die for a bogu...necessary war to fight for Freedom!

Freedom isn't Free - ya know!

Live in the now!

Re:Really. (3, Insightful)

Gavagai80 (1275204) | about 4 months ago | (#45696547)

So you want to hire someone fresh out of law school who never worked for a company, or what?

OK (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45696691)

So you want to hire someone fresh out of law school who never worked for a company, or what?

Absolutely!!!!!!

They'd be idealistic and not jaded - corrupted. They would have the Constitution in their eyes and fight for freedom, justice and the American way! But ....

See, Lee has been in industry, she'll play around as an administrator and when done, make the REALLY big bucks! She'll make deals, slip things into regs that'll help past or future employers, learn the system, and well, fuck We the People.

It's the same old shit. Connected people getting high level Gov jobs to make even more money and get even more power down the road.

It's been that way before the Roman Senate.

Fuck the Poor!
-Mel Brooks; History of the World, Part 1

Re:OK (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45699041)

Fuck the Poor!
-Mel Brooks; History of the World, Part 1

And

It's good to be King!
-Mel Brooks; History of the World, Part 1

Re:Really. (3, Funny)

StripedCow (776465) | about 4 months ago | (#45697091)

So you want to hire someone fresh out of law school who never worked for a company, or what?

I was more thinking along the lines of a Zen Buddhist monk.

Re:Really. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45697131)

All interesting companies, public or private, start people lower down and work them up to the boardroom as they gain relevant knowledge and experience.

Anyone who falls straight into an executive position at one company is there for their contacts rather than their skills.

Re:Really. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45697891)

What's the adage? "Anyone who wants to lead, by definition, shouldn't." I probably butchered that.

Re:Really. (2)

kimvette (919543) | about 4 months ago | (#45699677)

The major problem - one of the major problems, for there are several - one of the many major problems with governing people is that of whom you get to do it; or rather of who manages to get people to let them do it to them.
To summarize: it is a well known fact, that those people who most want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it. To summarize the summary: anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job. To summarize the summary of the summary: people are a problem. - Douglas Adams

Re:Really. (1)

swillden (191260) | about 4 months ago | (#45698727)

"...but said the opinions of her former employer would not guide her work."

I wonder if she rolled her eyes and winked after saying this.

This is one of those situations where I think the chosen person could actually do an enormous amount of good if they had the will to, but I have little to no hope that that will be the actual outcome.

So do you believe she was serious or not? Because if she allowed the opinions of her former employer to guide her work, she'd do an enormous amount of good by mostly eliminating software patents.

Re:Really. (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | about 4 months ago | (#45703687)

You assume google wants to get rid of software patents, rather than corner the market?

Re:Really. (1)

swillden (191260) | about 4 months ago | (#45703767)

You assume google wants to get rid of software patents, rather than corner the market?

It's not an assumption. Google dislikes software patents and actively lobbies against them. Google has been forced to play the patent game or be destroyed by lawsuits, but the company really doesn't like it.

Re:Really. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45698987)

"...but said the opinions of her former employer would not guide her work."

I wonder if she rolled her eyes and winked after saying this.

Probably not. It would have been difficult for her, even if she wanted to do it. Michelle Lee [google.com] appears to have cultural issues in regards to patent law. No bio page available.

Companies (2)

umdesch4 (3036737) | about 4 months ago | (#45696315)

Summary is spot on: Obviously, patents exist "so that companies can concentrate on true development which benefits all their users". An individual with a patent? Yeah, right...

Re:Companies (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45696579)

Sergey or Larry, can't remember which, doesn't even think individuals should be allowed to make UAS. Tried to find the slashdot article about it... searched for about 30 minutes, using the slashdot search, google, and yahoo, using about 30 different combinations of larry page sergey brin uas uav drones faa and regulation, but couldn't find it! Kind of mad actually. There is an article that was posted on slashdot sometime in the last year or 2 where he goes off about terrorists and how only large companies should be allowed to have drones.

Re:Companies (4, Interesting)

Dachannien (617929) | about 4 months ago | (#45697221)

The summary actually isn't spot on, because Lee was appointed as the deputy director. She will be the "acting director" until the President appoints a new director and the Senate confirms him or her.

There is actually a concern that this appointment is not valid, because the law requires that the deputy director be appointed by the Secretary of Commerce after being nominated by the USPTO director. We don't actually have a USPTO director currently, so it's not clear from where the authority for this appointment is derived.

Ask Mr. Data for comment (1)

nitehawk214 (222219) | about 4 months ago | (#45696339)

But said the opinions of her former employer would not guide her work.
Maybe she will use her knowledge from some of the insanity she has seen to actually tackle the current situation of patents, patent-trolling and lawsuits, so that companies can concentrate on true development which benefits all their users, not just the lawyers.

His response. [youtube.com]

lmgtfy (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45696349)

Well at least she might be able to teach the examiners how to google for prior art.

Re:lmgtfy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45696389)

Ooh, patents. Bad!

But she comes from a tech background, so good!

But lawyer. Bad.

Crony capitalism finally works for moving someone from industry to government who can fix something that's really badly wrong! Good.

But she's from google. Bad?

But it's that cute Rachel chick from Glee, who can really sing. Good!

Do You Really Believe This? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45696365)

"Maybe she will use her knowledge from some of the insanity she has seen to actually tackle the current situation of patents..."

Really? You actually believe this? Please contact me so that we can begin our talks about me selling you a bridge.

Not likely to help (1)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | about 4 months ago | (#45696369)

I'd expect it to become swifter for "established" patent holders to get their patents approved, while individual patent holders get left out in the cold. It has been burdensome for professionals like her, and there may be some collateral benefit to smaller companies and individuals.

But the patent system is fundamentally overwhelmed and burdened, now, by software patents. Abandoning those would eliminate jobs for many patent lawyers, but would shorten time to market and free up developers to use well-known tools for which patents should _never_ have been granted. And it's become increasingly burdensome for international business to deal with patent law in different nations, also burdening American competitiveness.

Re:Not likely to help (5, Insightful)

StripedCow (776465) | about 4 months ago | (#45696435)

The biggest problem right now is that the USPTO is being paid for the amount of patents that is approved, as opposed to being paid for the amount of patents that are turned down (due to prior art, etc.)

It is a bit like paying fishermen for the amount of fish they *didn't* catch.

If she would accept this change in financial dependence, then I'd say there is hope. But right now I don't see it happening.

Re:Not likely to help (5, Informative)

Trepidity (597) | about 4 months ago | (#45696559)

Huh, I didn't realize that. Looks like, for large companies at least (there are some discounts for individual inventors), the fees [uspto.gov] break down roughly like this:

  • Filing/search/examination fees: $1600
  • Issuance of an approved patent: $1780
  • Maintenance of an approved patent over its full lifespan: $12,600

So basically the USPTO gets $1600 if the patent is rejected, or $15,980 if it's approved.

Re:Not likely to help (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45696743)

The lyrics of the US national anthem should be changed to "Fuck you, I got mine"

Re:Not likely to help (2)

Theaetetus (590071) | about 4 months ago | (#45697139)

Huh, I didn't realize that. Looks like, for large companies at least (there are some discounts for individual inventors), the fees [uspto.gov] break down roughly like this:

  • Filing/search/examination fees: $1600
  • Issuance of an approved patent: $1780
  • Maintenance of an approved patent over its full lifespan: $12,600

So basically the USPTO gets $1600 if the patent is rejected, or $15,980 if it's approved.

... the latter of which are over the course of 12 years. Plus, that's only if the patent is maintained for its full term, and not many are, particularly in the computing industry. Why pay $16k in maintenance fees on a patent on a technology that's obsolete?

All your installed base are belong to USPTO (1)

tepples (727027) | about 4 months ago | (#45698001)

A technology is not obsolete if it's required for interoperating with the installed base.

Re:Not likely to help (3, Insightful)

king neckbeard (1801738) | about 4 months ago | (#45698143)

Being obsolete doesn't mean that the patent isn't useful. If you manage to dupe the USPTO into granting you are patent on a necessary piece (or one that has become so commonplace to be necessary for interoperability reasons), you can ambush most anybody in the field. A good example would be the FAT filesystem. It wasn't a particularly great filesystem, and there are certainly better choices for anything you would do, ignoring the infrastructure. However, in reality, it is a virtual necessity to use either it or NTFS on any portable device that will be communicating with a desktop due to the dominant role of Microsoft there. There are plenty of operating systems that would make a great substitute if MS supported filesystems that they didn't create (with minor exceptions for things like ISO 9660.

You also don't seem to be understanding the criticism. The USPTO gets paid as much or more for accepting a patent than they do for rejecting it. Now, not all patents will be taken to full term, but more than zero of them will be. Therefore, the USPTO has incentives to approve patents.

Re:Not likely to help (2)

Theaetetus (590071) | about 4 months ago | (#45699227)

Being obsolete doesn't mean that the patent isn't useful. If you manage to dupe the USPTO into granting you are patent on a necessary piece (or one that has become so commonplace to be necessary for interoperability reasons), you can ambush most anybody in the field.

Yes, but the conclusion that the USPTO makes the majority of their fees post-grant relies on the premise that the majority of these patents have maintenance fees paid. And, as you note, that relies on a premise that a majority are "commonplace" that are used to "ambush" people. However, the premise is false [patentlyo.com].

You also don't seem to be understanding the criticism. The USPTO gets paid as much or more for accepting a patent than they do for rejecting it.

No, I understand the criticism. I'm merely pointing out that it's based on a false conclusion from an erroneous premise. In reality, not only are the majority of patents abandoned during their lifetime, before many of those maintenance fees are paid, the original argument disregarded all of the other fees paid to the USPTO, including fees for Requests for Continued Examination (which increase drastically after the first one), appeal fees, petition fees, etc., and those are all fees that are only paid when the USPTO rejects an application.

Now, what is the actual average cost to obtain a patent in fees to the USPTO vs. what is the actual average cost paid for issuance and maintenance? I don't know, and it would take a lot of data mining to find out (albeit from publicly available information), but I can tell you that if you start by ignoring the majority of the fees, your conclusion is based on fluff and dreams.

Furthermore, the evidence points to your conclusion being wrong. From here [uspto.gov], the allowance rate is 49.2% including RCEs, or 68.5% not including them, depending on whether you consider an RCE to be a new application or not (for our purposes, discussing fees, it's somewhat irrelevant). If the USPTO had such great incentives to allow these cases, wouldn't that be 90% or higher?
In fact, to maximize their fees, wouldn't the USPTO want to allow all cases immediately? But instead (from the same page, scroll down), you find that 87.2% of applications are initially rejected. It's almost the opposite of the rubber stamp that your argument would suggest.

Re:Not likely to help (1)

king neckbeard (1801738) | about 4 months ago | (#45699627)

Yes, but the conclusion that the USPTO makes the majority of their fees post-grant relies on the premise that the majority of these patents have maintenance fees paid.

No, if only one in a hundred meets the maintenance fees, it's around a 10% increase in income from maintenance fees. It doesn't really matter how low it is, because there is no incentive for not paying maintenance

And, as you note, that relies on a premise that a majority are "commonplace" that are used to "ambush" people. However, the premise is false [patentlyo.com].

No, it doesn't. Even if there is a very low incidence of patents being used in ambushes, they can still be used to harm a large portion of the industry for billions of dollars.

furthermore, the evidence points to your conclusion being wrong. From here [uspto.gov], the allowance rate is 49.2% including RCEs, or 68.5% not including them, depending on whether you consider an RCE to be a new application or not (for our purposes, discussing fees, it's somewhat irrelevant). If the USPTO had such great incentives to allow these cases, wouldn't that be 90% or higher?

Not at all. They have to at least pretend to do their job. Let's say that absent economic incentives, the allowance rate would be 5%. In that case, 49.2% is almost ten times the rate and the USPTO is incredibly broken. They can be doing a horrible job due to perverse incentives without being 100% cronies. It's the same thing with police departments and their perverse incentives. They have incentives to write bullshit tickets and seize everything that they can, but cops do spent a lot of their time doing things other than that.

Made up numbers do not support credible arguments (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | about 4 months ago | (#45700357)

Not at all. They have to at least pretend to do their job. Let's say that absent economic incentives, the allowance rate would be 5%. In that case, 49.2% is almost ten times the rate and the USPTO is incredibly broken. They can be doing a horrible job due to perverse incentives without being 100% cronies. It's the same thing with police departments and their perverse incentives. They have incentives to write bullshit tickets and seize everything that they can, but cops do spent a lot of their time doing things other than that.

However, let's say that absent economic incentives, the allowance rate would be 95%. Then clearly, 49.2% represents an incredibly stingy allowance rate, and the USPTO is incredibly biased against patents.

See? Unsourced numbers can be pulled from your ass to support any conclusion with equal credibility, whether it's my 95% or your 5%... "equal" credibility still being "zero" credibility. On the other hand, actual numbers, specifically the 49.2% allowance rate and the 87.2% initial rejection rate, refute your unsupported conclusion.

Re:Made up numbers do not support credible argumen (1)

king neckbeard (1801738) | about 4 months ago | (#45700547)

Your numbers refute nothing. The claim is that the way fees work creates a perverse incentive. You provide the allowance rate as evidence to the contrary, but those numbers are useless without context or a baseline. We know what the numbers are with the current incentives. We don't know how much they would differ if those incentives were neutralized. I wasn't saying that the allowance rate was 5%, but was instead giving an example to prove my point. In your hypothetical, that would be the case as well. In fact, it helps prove my point. We have no idea what the allowance rate would be if the fees were neutral, so your numbers lack context and are useless in this conversation. You keep spouting 'majority' as if that has any meaning here.

It's not unreasonable to draw suspicion on this practice, because the actual costs of maintenance are basically nothing. $7,500 for rubber stamping a continuation? That's quite fishy, and seems like it would be difficult to justify.

Also, your argument about initial rejections is based on poor reasoning in addition to not considering baseline measures. An initial rejection means that they get a little bit more for an amendment. The most profitable path might be to be milk out the application for as long as you can without facing a risk of an extension.

Re:Made up numbers do not support credible argumen (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | about 4 months ago | (#45700907)

Your numbers refute nothing.

Actually, they refute your logical conclusion by showing that its based on a false premise. Additionally, unlike your numbers, mine are based in reality. You have no real numbers period.

We know what the numbers are with the current incentives. We don't know how much they would differ if those incentives were neutralized.

Begging the question. I disagree that they're even "incentives", and my actual numbers show that they do not appear to be, since if anything, the USPTO has a greater incentive to reject applications and collect fees for RCEs and appeals.

Additionally:

It's not unreasonable to draw suspicion on this practice, because the actual costs of maintenance are basically nothing. $7,500 for rubber stamping a continuation? That's quite fishy, and seems like it would be difficult to justify.

You apparently have no idea what you're talking about. Maintenance fees have nothing to do with continuation applications. You are combining two things because you've heard the words in connection with patents and assume they must be related, even though you have no real clue what they mean.

And I realize that you're going to wave your hands and claim it was a typo, but you do the same thing here:

An initial rejection means that they get a little bit more for an amendment.

Amendments aren't charged a fee unless you add claims without canceling other claims. The USPTO doesn't simply get more money by virtue of initially rejecting an application. You really are just tossing out statements with no idea whether they're correct or not.

Re:Made up numbers do not support credible argumen (1)

king neckbeard (1801738) | about 3 months ago | (#45708583)

Actually, they refute your logical conclusion by showing that its based on a false premise. Additionally, unlike your numbers, mine are based in reality. You have no real numbers period.

Your numbers a real, but not meaningful to the conversation at hand. We know the numbers with our current incentives, but not the numbers in their absence. We can conclude that the USPTO is not completely ruled by those numbers, but we can't conclusively say whether or not they are influenced by them. I never claimed that my numbers were real. I just used them to illustrate how your numbers could be correct and the premise still be true.

Begging the question. I disagree that they're even "incentives", and my actual numbers show that they do not appear to be, since if anything, the USPTO has a greater incentive to reject applications and collect fees for RCEs and appeals.

Actually, that's pretty complicated math. You have to weigh the chances that an applicant will go for an RCE/appeal against the money lost by those who don't submit those. They also involve quite a bit more manpower than a rubber stamp for maintenance, so they might not be as profitable There is a complex risk and dynamics at play here, and humans are, generally speaking, pretty bad at gambling. That's actually a significant part of why patent trolls exist, despite a large number of even the most successful ones not making money. However, approving patents over denying them is a fairly simple game with a pretty reliable turnout.

You apparently have no idea what you're talking about. Maintenance fees have nothing to do with continuation applications. You are combining two things because you've heard the words in connection with patents and assume they must be related, even though you have no real clue what they mean.

No, I was using 'continuation as a way to explain that they simply collect money and stamp a form to not kill the patent. The patent's legal monoply would continue to exist My apologies on that one, IANAL, so sometimes I use common vernacular words without recalling that the term I used has a more specific legal definition.

Amendments aren't charged a fee unless you add claims without canceling other claims. The USPTO doesn't simply get more money by virtue of initially rejecting an application. You really are just tossing out statements with no idea whether they're correct or not.

I will attribute this to not intimately knowing the ins and outs of what fees are paid when. AFAIK, you have to file an amendment after an additional rejection, and there are listings of amendment fees on the fees page of the USPTO.

Re:Made up numbers do not support credible argumen (2)

nephorm (464234) | about 4 months ago | (#45701129)

Examiners don't get paid more to allow an application than to reject it. So whatever institutional incentives you might believe are present, you'd need to show what incentives exist for examiners to allow - especially when continuing to reject and forcing applicant to file RCEs is definitively in the examiner's interest.

Re:Not likely to help (1)

Archwyrm (670653) | about 4 months ago | (#45700553)

Because $16K over 12 years is chump change for most of the companies filing patents. Also they seem to have this paranoid notion that it is much better to keep around something that they might need than not have it and want it later.

Re:Not likely to help (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | about 4 months ago | (#45700921)

Because $16K over 12 years is chump change for most of the companies filing patents. Also they seem to have this paranoid notion that it is much better to keep around something that they might need than not have it and want it later.

Most of the companies filing patents are filing dozens, if not hundreds, each year. Over 12 years, you could easily end up with a portfolio of patents numbering in the thousands. For example, everyone's favorite patent troll company, Intellectual Ventures, has upwards of 80,000 patents, so for them, you're talking about maintenance fees of over a billion dollars over those 12 years, if they maintain all of them for the full term.

Re:Not likely to help (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45696653)

would eliminate jobs for many patent lawyers.

Sounds good to me.

Or... (3, Informative)

swb (14022) | about 4 months ago | (#45696411)

"Maybe she will use her knowledge from some of the insanity she has seen to actually tackle the current situation of patents, patent-trolling and lawsuits, so that companies can concentrate on true development which benefits all their users, not just the lawyers."

Or maybe she will use her knowledge to simply reinforce the patent system so that holders of large patent portfolios with products in the market are just more immune from all patent challenges, not just trolling challenges.

Which would actually be a worse outcome, since at least the broken system seems to be allowing patent challenges, even though they appear to be cynically motivated.

It's not at all hard to see a trolling "fix" that simply denies challenges. It's easy to see some law getting passed that says "well, you may have a patent for X used in Company's Product Y, but because they have a working product an N other patents for the product, the product would exist anyway because your patent is only a small part of a larger entity."

And now you've eliminated trolling, but you've also made it so that big companies can just steal things from startups or smaller competitors.

Re:Or... (1)

Chalnoth (1334923) | about 4 months ago | (#45698771)

To the extent that she gets her perspective of patents from working for Google, she won't do this. Google is still a pretty young company, with relatively few patents (though the Motorola merger netted them a number of them). Coming from that atmosphere of a relatively small upstart struggling against the much larger patent portfolios of its older competition, she's much more likely to find sympathy with those who have concern about patent trolls and companies using patents to enforce market power than she is to side with powerful companies trying to suppress competition through patents.

Of course, she is an individual, and her personal beliefs may be quite far from those of Google. But I'd tend to expect her experience at Google, in this instance, would be a plus rather than a minus.

We'll get a new app for submitting patents (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45696477)

Internal design:

(Receive form)
IF forms not filled out completely THEN reject immediately
ELSE IF Submitter is Google THEN move to acceptance queue
ELSE move to prior art search queue for processing by Google

seem a better fit for the NSA (1)

fermion (181285) | about 4 months ago | (#45696677)

In any case I don't see how this help limit patents. Google after all, IIRC, hold a patent for scanning personal data and targeting advertisement based on keywords. If there is an obvious patent, that would be it. The fact is that Google simply did not have the good sense, or maybe the creativity, to develop patents over time the way that many other companies have done over the past 100 years. It was mostly just in business to make money through the obscurity of it adsense software. Acknowledging it's mistakes, it overpaid for the Motorola portfolio.

Please Michelle Lee ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45696705)

Remember Google's old motto, "Don't be evil"? You have the power to let "the little guy" write some popular software that takes off, without being crushed by software patent litigation.

Companies of Google's caliber can compete on their own merits with anyone - they don't need to hold software patents to succeed.

Don't be evil - do something amazing and reform the software patent system. It would be a glorious achievement. Most people in your position would line their pockets and cruise to retirement. It's your choice.

You people... (0)

Bartles (1198017) | about 4 months ago | (#45696713)

...all voted for this crap, you'll get what you deserve, and you'll like it. Did you really think president Goldman Sachs, would put someone neutral in charge of the Patent office? No, it's fascism all the way down with these people. Wake up.

Re:You people... (2)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about 4 months ago | (#45697077)

No. Most of our votes don't mean shit thanks to Gerrymandering. [snagfilms.com]

Educate yourself, fool.

Re:You people... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45697587)

Actually most of your votes mean shit since more than 90% of you vote for either Twiddle-D or Twiddle-R.

And gerrymandering doesn't change that fact.

Revolving Door Policy (1)

pubwvj (1045960) | about 4 months ago | (#45697061)

This is rather like Monsanto, Tyson, Smithfield, etc people working for the USDA. There needs to be serious enforcement of the conflict of interest prevention.

Re:Revolving Door Policy (1)

Animats (122034) | about 4 months ago | (#45697273)

This is rather like Monsanto, Tyson, Smithfield, etc people working for the USDA. There needs to be serious enforcement of the conflict of interest prevention.

Right. She's only temporary, though. She's been appointed deputy director, and the director slot is vacant. There's a power vacuum at the top of the USPTO; in the last few months, the director (Kappos, who was a good guy), the deputy director, and the general counsel quit.

"Head of the Silicon Valley office of the USPTO" - not. There is no Silicon Valley office of the USPTO [uspto.gov]. It was killed by budget cuts. [arstechnica.com] So the USPTO had a spare manager around. There's a power vacuum at the top of the USPTO; in the last few months, the director, the deputy director, and the general counsel quit.

The whole "USPTO branch office" thing was a pork program for Detroit; a Congressman stuck a provision for a Detroit office in a bill two years ago, which also provided for a few other branches at locations to be determined. The Detroit office was opened, but none of the others were. The USPTO is completely on-line now; no user has to go to a USPTO office to do anything. There was a time when people had to go to a USPTO location to search patents on paper or microfilm, but that era, thankfully, is over.

Re:Revolving Door Policy (1)

nephorm (464234) | about 4 months ago | (#45697643)

First, Kappos was head counsel at IBM before coming to the PTO, and he worked out very well. Second, there is a Silicon Valley Office; it is currently staffed by Board judges: http://www.uspto.gov/blog/director/entry/an_update_on_our_dallas [uspto.gov] Third, the point of the branch offices was to attempt to recruit Patent Examiners from these areas. It has been very difficult for the PTO to convince qualified engineers in California to come to the Alexandria campus for training. Examiners are required to work on-site for at least the first two years, and even eligible Examiners do not all work from home. Applicants have a right to have in-person interviews with Examiners. So not everything is done online.

Dream on (3, Insightful)

namgge (777284) | about 4 months ago | (#45698179)

I seriously doubt that Google being her previous employer/client will make any difference to how she runs the USPTO. My experience, admittedly in the UK, is that a lawyer will happily argue that the moon is made of green cheese without believing it in the slightest. And they'll keep on arguing it for just as long as the client has money to keep paying them.

Re:Dream on (1)

RyoShin (610051) | about 4 months ago | (#45710353)

I agree. So we need to ask the question: Who is her client? Google, the US Government, or the US People?

It has been shown, especially as late, that those employed by the government are not necessarily working for the government. And rare is the case where someone working for the US Government is also working for the US People...

Perhaps the new head will care about false swears (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45699995)

On the application it talks about how false declarations can get you charged Federally. Alas, the "new normal" seems to be 'that was the least untruthful thing I could have said', so frauds and suspected frauds are allowed to skate. Perhaps the new head will actually care about applications that one can suspect are fraudulent.

The email address in this application [trademarkia.com] used to be used by her Father who has a bit of a tax problem [fox6now.com].

The application has a checkbox for 'if you are a lawyer' and that is unchecked. Comparing her record with the State Bar [wisbar.org] shows a different email address.

Wishful thinking (1)

manu0601 (2221348) | about 4 months ago | (#45700403)

From summary:

Maybe she will use her knowledge from some of the insanity she has seen to actually tackle the current situation of patents, patent-trolling and lawsuits, so that companies can concentrate on true development which benefits all their users, not just the lawyers.

Or maybe she won't

People are people (1)

CuteSteveJobs (1343851) | about 4 months ago | (#45701845)

Unfortunately people being people she will use her knowledge of Google's concerns and her prior connections with Google to advance their agenda. That's human nature. To claim it won't affect her decision making is naive.
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