Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

How to Fix U.S. Patents

CowboyNeal posted more than 9 years ago | from the retooling-the-system dept.

Patents 471

Frisky070802 writes "IEEE Spectrum has an interesting article on how to fix the U.S. patent system. It starts with an example of how broken the system is, with Smuckers suing a small company for crustless PB&J. It has a great overview of how the system has evolved and how much it favors the big patent holders, and suggests 3 specific fixes: 'create incentives and opportunities for parties to challenge the novelty and nonobviousness of an invention before the PTO grants a patent,' examine the important patents meticulously; don't waste effort on the unimportant ones that can be ousted early, and for examining prior art, use judges and special masters rather than uninformed juries."

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

slobber (0, Troll)

(TK)Max (668795) | more than 9 years ago | (#11047001)

-cock

with a name like Smuckers (-1, Flamebait)

Triumph The Insult C (586706) | more than 9 years ago | (#11047014)

of course their lawyers are nit-picky assholes. what else did you expect? that they're good?

Re:with a name like Smuckers (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11047282)

It's crustless PB&J time, PB&J time.

--

PB&J w/a baseball bat.

Let's not slashdot IEEE please, (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11047015)

Google cache [google.com]

Aha! (2, Funny)

bleckywelcky (518520) | more than 9 years ago | (#11047027)

And here's my solution to the nation's overpacked prisons: everybody behave! See, it's really just that easy ... now go do it!

Re:Aha! (1, Offtopic)

Hatta (162192) | more than 9 years ago | (#11047130)

And here's my solution to the nation's overpacked prisons: everybody behave! See, it's really just that easy ... now go do it!

To be serious for a moment, all we'd have to do is release nonviolent drug offenders. Then we wouldn't have the shame of incarcerating more of our population than any country, even china or russia.

Re:Aha! (1, Insightful)

eggegg (754560) | more than 9 years ago | (#11047186)

Or Americans could just put down the pipe.

Re:Aha! (2, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 9 years ago | (#11047206)

Or Americans could just put down the pipe.

Yeah, put down the pipe, and embrace alcohol! It's legal, so it must be better.

Re:Aha! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11047218)

I suppose you have no vices? Not one, oh holy one? How about a big fat cup of shut the fuck up?

Re:Aha! (1, Flamebait)

pez (54) | more than 9 years ago | (#11047224)

Are you including drug dealers in your "nonviolent drug offenders"?

Drug dealers are the scum of the earth. Prison is too good for them. MHO of course.

Re:Aha! (2, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 9 years ago | (#11047273)

Are you including drug dealers in your "nonviolent drug offenders"?

Drug dealers are the scum of the earth. Prison is too good for them. MHO of course.


Yes. Most of the drug dealers I have met are nice people who take great personal risks to provide people with freedom of choice. They make a nice profit at it, but still, if it weren't for them our freedom to alter our minds would be lost forever. There are some nasty violent characters in the business, but if they commit assault, they should be tried for assault, not some other bullshit charge. And think about it, how many times do you see turf wars between liquor store owners?

adult consent (3, Interesting)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 9 years ago | (#11047352)

Just the violent ones. Because they're "violent criminals", not because they're "drug dealers". What do you call doctors/pharmacists/pharmacos which sell oxycontin? Or any of the other life-destroying addictive legal drugs? Or bartenders who serve alcoholics, for that matter?

Re:Aha! (1)

Pantero Blanco (792776) | more than 9 years ago | (#11047371)

"To be serious for a moment, all we'd have to do is release nonviolent drug offenders. Then we wouldn't have the shame of incarcerating more of our population than any country, even china or russia."

We'd start jailing illegal immigrants, most likely.

And the chances... (4, Insightful)

interiot (50685) | more than 9 years ago | (#11047031)

And the chances of these kind of reforms going through are... what? From a national economic standpoint, even the US has an incentive to pump out as many patents as possible, no matter how frivolous, in order to extract money from corporations in other countries, since the US is using the WTO to push its "intellectual property" regime onto as many countries as it can.

Re:And the chances... (5, Insightful)

TiggertheMad (556308) | more than 9 years ago | (#11047056)

From a national economic standpoint, even the US has an incentive to pump out as many patents as possible, no matter how frivolous, in order to extract money from corporations in other countries, since the US is using the WTO to push its "intellectual property" regime onto as many countries as it can

This only works for a short time, once a country sees it is getting screwed by the process, it just ignores patent law. It's in everybody's interest to have a system that is ligitimate and encourages inovation, and not blocking patents.

Re:And the chances... (4, Funny)

mordors9 (665662) | more than 9 years ago | (#11047145)

Just like my family will ignore them. My daughter has been eating crustless pb&j for years and will continue to do so. Damn the lawyers.

Re:And the chances... (2, Informative)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 9 years ago | (#11047081)

There's also an ego thing "We're more inventive than xxxx because we generate more patents".

One way to fix this is with the "patent pending" status that was (and perhaps still is) used in some countries. A pending patent has this standing for a year and can be challenged relatively easily diring this stage. However, there are so many patents being issued in the states that this process just breaks down.

Re:And the chances... (1, Insightful)

happyemoticon (543015) | more than 9 years ago | (#11047169)

That's more of a problem with the Corporate/NeoCon climate: everything for me, right now, damn the future and damn the consequences. Boot the NeoCons, and hell, you might see environmental reform too. Most Americans, SUVs and Atkins aside, wouldn't wilfully screw other countries, and would like to see our domestic businesses thrive on its own accord so that somebody can eat besides Joe Millionaire. They've just fallen for the NeoCon's trap of hiding behind God.

Europe has the same problem (3, Insightful)

kryogen1x (838672) | more than 9 years ago | (#11047034)

Europe [zdnet.co.uk] has a patent problem too, don't just pick on the US!

Re:Europe has the same problem (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11047092)

Make a wild guess at which company is pressuring EU to accept software patents.

It starts with M.

Re:Europe has the same problem (1)

andyh1978 (173377) | more than 9 years ago | (#11047216)

Make a wild guess at which company is pressuring EU to accept software patents. It starts with M.
Oh no, not Macromedia, they'll have to sue Adobe all over again.

Re:Europe has the same problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11047347)

And ends with "icrosoft".

not yet (1)

sim82 (836928) | more than 9 years ago | (#11047367)

yeah, if we continue like that we will have the same problems in 10 years, while the us have long reformed their patent system. (which will be copied by europe 10-20 years later...) It's always the same. The USA have the shit first, the USA get rid of it first ...

US Patent for USB OS -(Portable operating system) (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11047045)

not cool for DSL, feather linux, puppy and others USB GNU/Linux distros : link to Patent on "Portable operating system and method to load the same " [uspto.gov] .

Not a problem, I don't think (2, Informative)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 9 years ago | (#11047136)

The patent is on the OS transport and loading, not on the OS itself. It particularly mentions Linux as an OS that can be loaded.

If you buy one of these people's gizzmos to store Linux then this is OK. If you manufactured an equivalent gizzmo and tried to sell thet then that would not be OK.

This just in... (4, Funny)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 9 years ago | (#11047046)

> IEEE Spectrum has an interesting article on how to fix the U.S. patent system. [ ... ] and suggests 3 specific fixes: 'create incentives and opportunities for parties to challenge the novelty and nonobviousness of an invention before the PTO grants a patent,' examine the important patents meticulously; don't waste effort on the unimportant ones that can be ousted early, and for examining prior art, use judges and special masters rather than uninformed juries."

In other news, David Boies, acting on behalf of Darl McBride, has filed three suits against IEEE for infringement of patents #13,371,337 #3,133,731,337, and #8,013,580,135, "Method for fixing the US Patent System", "Method for Borking a Patent System", and "Method for Subtly Implying That Every Idea In The World Is Mine, All Mine", respectively.

Re:This just in... (1)

mzwaterski (802371) | more than 9 years ago | (#11047301)

infringement of patents #13,371,337 #3,133,731,337, and #8,013,580,135

Whoa, I wasn't in to work yesterday, so maybe I'm out of the loop...were approximately 7.5 billion patents issued yesterday?

Last I checked we were only around Serial # 6,800,000 ...

How to fix patents? (2, Funny)

Joey Patterson (547891) | more than 9 years ago | (#11047047)

Use the CowboyNeal option.

Heh - Mumford from Sesame Street... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11047048)

Smuckers suing a small company for crustless PB&J.

Ala peanut butter sandwiches [tripod.com] ....

I already thought of these! (0)

10000000000000000000 (809085) | more than 9 years ago | (#11047050)

I'm suing!

Another idea (3, Interesting)

koreaman (835838) | more than 9 years ago | (#11047053)

do away with patents.
Seriously, they are anticompetitive and aid MONOPOLY. If we want monopolies, do it the right way and institute Communism already. Governement-endorsed monopolies in a free-market system are bad. That's why Linux beats 'doze.

Re:Another idea (5, Insightful)

Umbral Blot (737704) | more than 9 years ago | (#11047104)

Originally patents were invented to aid competition by allowing a small business with an orignal idea to avaoid being sunk by a flood of copy-cat products from an established business. The obvious problems however quickly emerged: large businesses can get patents despite the fact that they don't need them, and the ability to patent an idea instead of an actual product. These two problems have completely overshadowed any benefits of the patent system.

Re:Another idea (1)

koreaman (835838) | more than 9 years ago | (#11047115)

Exactly.
Good in theory, bad in practice.

Re:Another idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11047257)

Well chosen sig, then.

Correction (4, Insightful)

rainman_bc (735332) | more than 9 years ago | (#11047173)

I believe Patents were created to aid innovation not aid comptetition. They exist to protect the inventor. The idea is that if you create something, and don't have the money to bring it to market, someone with money shouldn't have the right to come along, skate your idea, and elave you uncompensated for your invention.

In fact, it's been proven that patents hinder competition, but they don't hinder innovation.

Re:Correction (4, Interesting)

Dr.Dubious DDQ (11968) | more than 9 years ago | (#11047337)

They exist to protect the inventor.

If I understand the history correctly (and, admittedly, I may very well not), even this isn't quite accurate.

What I understood the patent process to be for was to be an alternative to "trade secrets". The protection of the inventor was the "payment" that the inventor got, not the purpose of the patent. The purpose was to ensure that the patented idea DID become available to the public for study and future innovation from. (So, yes, the first part of your post is exactly correct...)

It seems like it's more recent to look at the patent monopoly as an "entitlement" and a marketing gimmick ("Patented" copper bracelet with magic healing powers - if it's patented it MUST be good, right?) rather than half of a societal bargain. It's gone from being "Well, okay, if you can assure me I won't be punished as a result, I'll go ahead and let the public know the details of my trade secret" to "HA! In your face! I OWN this idea now! And there's nothing you can do about it! HA HA HA HA HA!"

Re:Correction (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11047361)

In fact, it's been proven that patents hinder competition, but they don't hinder innovation.

Software patents do hinder innovation.

Re:Another idea (1)

HawkingMattress (588824) | more than 9 years ago | (#11047364)

Yes, so a good system might be: only allow a company to own patents if it doesn't earn more than X. Once the company cross the treshold, all its patents become public domain...
Yeah, i'm a communistico-idealistico fool

Re:Another idea (1, Insightful)

back_pages (600753) | more than 9 years ago | (#11047141)

do away with patents.
Seriously, they are anticompetitive and aid MONOPOLY. If we want monopolies, do it the right way and institute Communism already.
Governement-endorsed monopolies in a free-market system are bad. That's why Linux beats 'doze.

How insightful.

Twice as insightful would be the realization that "doing away with patents" is equivalent to embarking on the road to corporate fascism, where the individual is powerless and the capitalist pigs own your life. Gone are the days when a person can start a small company and bring something new to the marketplace. Gone are the days when a company can lower its prices by developing a more efficient process and retain that advantage. Gone are the days when innovation is rewarded.

Take, for example, your typical Soviet boot factory. You get 100,000 monies to produce 10,000 boots per month. Your dumb ass innovates a new process which produces 10,000 boots for 80,000 moneys - you just proved you have been wasting 20,000 monies every month since you were given your job, you inefficient exploitative bastard. Now your process will be snatched up by all your competitors because you can't legally protect and you end up with no economic advantage - but you DO have tighter profit margins. Congratulations, you clever communist, you have been penalized by your own innovation.

So if you really ENJOY being a powerless cog in a fascist machine who is rewarded for keeping his head down and penalized for independent thought, by all means move your dumb ass to NW China and don't fuck it up for me

Re:Another idea (1)

martinX (672498) | more than 9 years ago | (#11047267)

move your dumb ass to NW China and don't fuck it up for me

What's so special about north west china?

Re:Another idea (1)

back_pages (600753) | more than 9 years ago | (#11047326)

What's so special about north west china?

Something like 2/3 of the world's DVD players are manufactured there in rip-off factories that violate mountains of international intellectual property laws, then they dump these players on the international market that doesn't care where they came from.

Don't quote me on the numbers, but the situation there is that they live in an IP-law wild west and profit from the non-US, non-Europe, non-Japan markets.

Re:Another idea (2, Insightful)

ScoLgo (458010) | more than 9 years ago | (#11047321)

"Twice as insightful would be the realization that 'doing away with patents' is equivalent to embarking on the road to corporate fascism, where the individual is powerless and the capitalist pigs own your life."

So how is that different from what's already happening in the US?

Motion supported, here are my reasons. (1)

RedLaggedTeut (216304) | more than 9 years ago | (#11047203)

Patents are granted unter the pretext and condition that the work is original and inventive. To a mathematician, a decent definition of "original and inventive" in this context would be "The probability that someone else comes up with the idea within the time the patent holds is below 5%".

However, even if you used such a definition of "inventiveness", there is no way one can actually implement it. So patents just cannot be granted but on a whim; patent examiners are not as much to blame is the impossibility of defining "inventiveness".

Another reason to grant a patent would be that some stuff is hard to do and a monopoly is required to make it work. This might be a good reason, but it has nothing to do with how the current patent system is designed and justified.

Such a system might work better in the way of the X-prize, or even by auctioning of the monopoly to be the only one to be able to produce "X" to the highest bidder.

Unfortunately I don't think anyone will fix the system until it is more obviously borked. So we need "free patents" and "patent trolls" to bork it.

Re:Another idea (3, Insightful)

darkmeridian (119044) | more than 9 years ago | (#11047220)

Such patent monopolies are important for society, though not in the realm of computers. Pretend company C finds that drug D cures cancer in mice. It then performs many human trials to make sure it is safe and effective in humans as well, all at great expense. It then brings the drug to market.

Without patents, company C will never disclose what is in drug D, hence stopping future research down related veins. (And thus preventing improvements down that avenue.) Furthermore, other companies will find out what drug D is made out of and then sell it generically. Company C is screwed because it had spent all the money doing the research; it can't compete on marketing, etc., against the companies that are free-loading. Future drug companies will do no research.

People say that we should make all research government-funded. Right. Government-regulation has been such a boon, right?

Not all monopolies are bad.

Re:Another idea (3, Funny)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 9 years ago | (#11047238)

Governement-endorsed monopolies in a free-market system are bad.

Yeah. What we need are competing power wire systems! I want a forest of wire strung about my city, darnit!

Fixing it... (2, Interesting)

Turn-X Alphonse (789240) | more than 9 years ago | (#11047055)

bit late to "fix it". The damage has already been done, they need a system where you can go "Hey they didn't invent that!", where they will require you to give information proving the patent is totally wrong.

Wouldn't you just love to see a Slashdot article saying "Microsoft lose 50,000 patents due to false claims"?

Re:Fixing it... (2, Insightful)

back_pages (600753) | more than 9 years ago | (#11047303)

bit late to "fix it". The damage has already been done, they need a system where you can go "Hey they didn't invent that!", where they will require you to give information proving the patent is totally wrong.

That is called "invalidating a patent" and it is the first thing your lawyers do when you are sued for infringement.

Guess what a patent is worth outside of a courtroom? $0. Guess what a flimsy patent is worth inside a courtroom? $0. The only patent that's worth anything is that which can withstand a validity attack. It's offensive how poorly this idea is understood in the media and the public at large.

Re:Fixing it... (2, Insightful)

mzwaterski (802371) | more than 9 years ago | (#11047323)

they need a system where you can go "Hey they didn't invent that!

Welcome to the current system ... find a patent that someone didn't invent, gather proof, and have the patent invalidated.

The gerbil shirt (1)

darnok (650458) | more than 9 years ago | (#11047069)

See that's the type of invention that should be patentable: it's unique, a significant advance(???) over existing products, and totally insane.

I want one, and I'd be prepared to pay a premium to the legal monopoly/patent holder to get one.

Interesting ideas (3, Insightful)

phillymjs (234426) | more than 9 years ago | (#11047075)

From the article:
First, create incentives and opportunities for parties to challenge the novelty and nonobviousness of an invention before the PTO grants a patent.

Prior art 'bounty hunters' and adding some common sense to the patent process sound like great ideas. Too bad they'll never be implemented, due to expensive lobbying efforts by those who stand to lose the most (i.e. the megacorps).

~Philly

Re:Interesting ideas (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11047107)

if megacorps are all against this, why is sun putting 'patent peace' in their license agreement?

Re:Interesting ideas (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11047329)

Sun's a big hippie of a corporation compared to about every other company.

Re:Interesting ideas (1)

back_pages (600753) | more than 9 years ago | (#11047227)

First, create incentives and opportunities for parties to challenge the novelty and nonobviousness of an invention before the PTO grants a patent.

Prior art 'bounty hunters' and adding some common sense to the patent process sound like great ideas. Too bad they'll never be implemented, due to expensive lobbying efforts by those who stand to lose the most (i.e. the megacorps). ~Philly

The problem with this would be the purported "independence" of the bounty hunters. The last thing you want in a system like this is for IBM to swamp the USPTO with "prior art (nyuk nyuk)" against Microsoft's cases and vice versa. Both companies file thousands of applications per year and burdening the USPTO with an endless barrage of what an economic adversary considers "prior art" would only exacerbate the existing problems.

Of course, the law has allowed 3rd parties to submit prior art for a number of years now, but oddly enough, that law is rarely exercised. For all that people talk about 3rd parties submitting prior art, the fact remains that you can submit prior art as a 3rd party and almost nobody does.

The second tier to this (and all other complaints) is that the public generally misunderstands that there are two parts to a patent infringement lawsuit: 1) invalid the patent, and 2) fight the infringement allegation. Examiners are given 20-40 hours per application for the average electronics invention, and of that only 12-30 hours can reasonably be spent searching for prior art. That's what the application fee buys; nobody (except the media or Slashdotters with rabies) pretends this is a "perfect" search for prior art. Now, when you're sued for infringement, you can expect to pay thousands upon thousands of dollars for a team of lawyers and professional searchers (outside the USPTO) to do an exhaustive search involving hundreds of man hours. If that patent is invalid, you'll find it and prove it. The prior art search performed by the USPTO for roughly $1000 that typically takes at most 20 man hours isn't as comprehensive as the $10,000 search that took 500 man hours. OMG WHO KNEW?!?!

By the way, if you want a rock solid patent, you can pay for the search while the patent is pending. Feel free. Expecting to get $100,000 of search for $1000 is insanity on the applicant's part, not incompetence on the USPTO's part.

(And bear in mind that I'm not addressing situations where oversights were clearly made by an examiner.)

Re:Interesting ideas (1)

back_pages (600753) | more than 9 years ago | (#11047276)

Oops - just wanted to add that I wasn't talking about the original post when I said "Slashdotters with rabies".

Also, the recently signed omnibus spending bill has changed the fee schedule for the USPTO so that you now have to pay separate fees for searching. Don't quote me on this, but I believe this is in preparation for the USPTO to split the task of searching away from examining, so that professional searchers to the search and examiners do the analysis and apply the legal issues to the case. Much better, in my opinion, than any of the solutions I've heard around Slashdot.

I Would (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11047083)

Patent Raquel Welch... ...And I have a feeling she'd patent me.

ummm (1)

coldeeze (832166) | more than 9 years ago | (#11047090)

geeks like sports, too, right? talk about 'em. [fantasyfeed.info]

Do something about it... (3, Insightful)

daVinci1980 (73174) | more than 9 years ago | (#11047101)

Instead of bitching about how broken the USPTO is, and how the patents they grant are obvious...

Get a job at the USPTO as a patent master. [uspto.gov]

Re:Do something about it... (3, Insightful)

MrBigInThePants (624986) | more than 9 years ago | (#11047370)

Oh how very insightful, that will work brilliantly!

"I am going to make a difference...from the inside! I will be different to all the other patent people - I will care!"

*time passes*

"What do you mean I am under my patent acceptance quota? I take time and issue them properly..."

*time passes*

"...but I really don't think we should be...yes sir..."

*time passes*

"[beep] Accepted [beep] Aceepted [beep] Accepted"

Sorry, I had to. You sounded like the plot from a bad 80's movie. You must have missed the bit where they said the reason they did not do a good job was not because they were staffed with evil midgets who used to work for Burger King(TM), but because they had no cash.
Signing up will just make you one of the frustrated masses...

IBM rules (1)

karvind (833059) | more than 9 years ago | (#11047103)

They are still number one in patenting things, whatever they are. I wonder if they can charge for every DRAM cell from memory manufacturers. 1 cent per DRAM cell is enough !! The person who invented it (Bob Denard) didn't get too much money for it, but nevertheless freedom to DO ANY RESEARCH he wants in the company. Bob Denard was awared IBM fellow in 1979.

Among others, the article sites a patent about "a method to swing on swing" and is invented by a 5 year old. WTF.

I invent a way to fart, at a particular angle and intensity which clears all people in vicinity.

-a

Never change (5, Insightful)

jtbauki (838979) | more than 9 years ago | (#11047108)

Patent reform will NEVER occur before Political reform. Political reform will NEVER occur without Citizens strongly voicing protests... and frankly, I don't feel like getting up from my computer.

Re:Never change (1)

rabbit78 (822735) | more than 9 years ago | (#11047208)

yeah, that describes the whole problem. people are lazy. they are _incredibly_ lazy. homer simpson attitude everywhere ;-) (nearly) no one will ever do something about it (including me). it' similar to computers/OSes: the acceptence treshhold for crap is much to high. Very few _really_ care enough.
--
Roman

Oh! (4, Funny)

Icarus1919 (802533) | more than 9 years ago | (#11047110)

This is a great way to fix the system! They should patent it!

This is actually easy to fix... (4, Funny)

Ooblek (544753) | more than 9 years ago | (#11047123)

Just put all the stupid, opportunistic, just-graduated-from-law-school-and-need-to-prove-I -have-a-large-penis lawyers on a boat, take it to the middle of the pacific, and sink it.

Won't work... (4, Funny)

Dr.Dubious DDQ (11968) | more than 9 years ago | (#11047236)

The sharks will just carry them safely back to shore. ("Professional Courtesy".)

Even easier (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11047131)

Let's roll it back to the methods and processes it used when it wasn't such a PITA. That seemed to work just fine.

Problem (5, Interesting)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 9 years ago | (#11047134)

Seems to me like these "reforms" will only serve to lock out the small guy even more. Extra hurdles and extra expense will mean that only those who can afford the best patent attorney can get patents.

The system DOES need to change, but let's make sure that we change to a better system, not just a different one.

LK

Re:Problem (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 9 years ago | (#11047232)

In the new system, some patents won't even be read all the way through. Thus, examiners can process more patents. Once your basic examiner has got done with it, making sure that it's not painfully, hopelessly obvious that it should not be granted, then someone who actually knows something about the field will get their hands on it. If you can improve throughput you can work without adding additional expense. By making it harder to get a patent through the initial screening process, you will reduce the number of pointless patent applications even if it is cheaper. By making it harder to get a patent passed all the way, you reduce the number of spurious patents filed by large corporations, who do it now because the amount it costs is nothing to them.

Only one problem. (0, Redundant)

DarkMantle (784415) | more than 9 years ago | (#11047135)

I'm going to patent this!

Pocket Judges (1)

lullabud (679893) | more than 9 years ago | (#11047143)

Yes, definitely use Judges. They're easier to pay off or whack, which just isn't feasible with an entire jury.

Re:Pocket Judges (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11047246)

as opposed to, say, the Kodak vs. Sun trial which had a jury selected from Kodak's back yard (read: factory city where K. was the main employer) which would obviously be completely impartial.

One judge can be held responsible if he sells an obviously bad decision. How do you revoke a city from providing jurors?

Quickest answer: (1)

Anita Coney (648748) | more than 9 years ago | (#11047146)

Kill all the lawyers!

Re:Quickest answer: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11047313)


>Kill all the lawyers!

Hardly anyone believes in anything strongly enough to actually kill or die for the cause.

US patent for USB OS:Damnsmall Linux,Feather,Runt (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11047150)

not cool for DSL, feather linux, runt, puppy, flonix and others USB GNU/Linux USB distros :
link to Patent on "Portable operating system and method to load the same ". [uspto.gov]

Proof of copyright laws selectively applied (0, Flamebait)

drfibes (838926) | more than 9 years ago | (#11047153)

Hi. I'm new here, I have some info I'd like to pass on to you all. If you or anyone you know has been threatened/busted for copyright violations regarding video media, you may be interested in what I have to say. I worked for a school district that for 7 years INTENTIONALLY stole copyrighted movies, etc. to advertise 2 local businesses on our "educational" cable channel (200K households). What the motivation for this was is unknown to me... I became aware of it at the same time that I observed abuse of the students by the perpetrators of these crimes, including one of them recruiting students for devil worship meetings. I reported this to the school officials. This began an "Alice thru the Looking Glass" experience for me, eventually resulting in me being fired. This has caused extreme detriment to my family. I also reported it to: CA Board of Education, Arnie and his wife, the FBI, U.S. Justice Dept., MPAA, RIAA and each of the copyright owners individually. Many others too. I have boxes of evidence, there is no doubt. Dates, times of offenses (required for prosecution of these crimes), videotapes, numerous witnesses, certified mail receipts of notification, etc. Agent Sanchez of the Victorville FBI office told me: "because of the negative publicity, these copyright owners are usually hesitant to prosecute when a school is involved." That seems to be the case, so basically I get screwed and the crooks are still laughing and working. I wasn't as concerned about the thievery as much as the abuse. But since that was harder to prove (but I did at my hearing, it was ignored), I went for what I had hard evidence on. Unlike the typical d/l'er, these folks were violating the law to make huge sums of money. My reason for telling you all this is not to solicit sympathy. It is because it is quite clear the law is not being applied equally. I'm not a legal expert, but I believe that your attorney can use this information to get charges dropped. Please feel free to spread this wherever you think it may do some good. I want to sing, sing, sing. The MPAA and copyright owners are no friends of mine, so maybe I can do some good going in the out door. I have _lengthy documents on the web describing the affair in great detail: http://webpages.charter.net/drfibes/crimesatvvuhsd .htm http://webpages.charter.net/drfibes/improprieties/ response_to_dr_marks.htm The last link is a letter to the superintendent expressing shock at her threat to fire me for whistleblowing. She resigned 12 days after I sent it. Send 'em to me. Maybe we can blow this whole thing sky high.

Re:Proof of copyright laws selectively applied (1)

drfibes (838926) | more than 9 years ago | (#11047166)

Forgot to mention, my snail mail address is on the 2nd webpage. I can be contacted there.

Re:Proof of copyright laws selectively applied (1)

nzkbuk (773506) | more than 9 years ago | (#11047231)

One small hint when you have alot to write. Break it up into small, easy (easier) to read chunks.

That way If people read it (instead of looking at it and saying "Huge block of text, I'll skip over and read the next one") they will also be able to get the points from it.

Re-read your post. It's difficult to read simply because of the formatting.

Re:Proof of copyright laws selectively applied (1)

Frennzy (730093) | more than 9 years ago | (#11047279)

he probably has his settings to do html formatted, but doesn't know the carat-p or carat-b type stuff.

Great Idea! (1)

rainman_bc (735332) | more than 9 years ago | (#11047155)

I think I'll patent it and sue the US PTO! =D

Sliding Patent Period (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11047164)

Instead of proposing more reviews - which will never happen - why not assign patent length based on time and money spent by the applicant on a given patent? For example, if I come up with a patent while taking a shower my application would show that I spent all of five minutes and 0 dollars thinking about it. The USPTO might determine that it is novel but - given the effort - only grant a patent for two years. On the other hand, if I'm a big pharma who's spent tens of years and millions the USPTO might give me a patent in excess of twenty years.

This kind of a approach would dissuade people from filing trivial patents since they'd no longer get a twenty year monopoly for them. Conversely a real EUREKA kind of idea might be worth having exclusively for a year or two.

Lastly, while lawyers aren't very good at determining what is technically innovative, they are good at determining the value of things (ie contract disputes, damage awards, etc.) A lawyer can argue that an application only spent 2.4 million, not 8.2, and thus only deserves a patent for five years, not ten. Patent lawyers are better suited for those kind of battles. So while the counsel of RamBus, SCO, et al hector the USPTO with the relative development cost of one obscure process or another, the rest of us can get on with our lives knowing that we don't have to worry about XOR being patented.

Statute of limitation on patent infringement suits (2, Informative)

theluckyleper (758120) | more than 9 years ago | (#11047167)

One of the major problem with patents (in my mind) is the fact that patent holders are permitted to sit on their patents and do nothing, even when they are aware of infringing acts. Then, 10 years down the road, they spring out of nowhere with the infringement suit. This is what Unisys did with GIFs [burnallgifs.org] . Unisys allowed the web to become addicted to GIFs, without filing any suits. No, no... they bided their time! Wait until everyone is dependent on GIFs, THEN spring the trap; that's the key! I find this behavior to be underhanded and repugnant. UNISYS HAD TO KNOW! As if they were not aware that GIF was the image format of choice on the web. It's impossible.

I don't know... (1)

j1bb3rj4bb3r (808677) | more than 9 years ago | (#11047175)

if we do away with patent law, we'll just have a bunch of unemployed lawyers on the streets. I, for one, don't want to see some guy in a grimy, torn Armani suit standing in my way in traffic with a sign that says "Will Sue For Food".

That reminds me of that joke... what's the difference between a dead lawyer and a dead dog in a road...

NEW PATENT (0, Redundant)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 9 years ago | (#11047182)

Patent for fixing the US Patent system on the internet.

All prior art displayed in other replies are fake and do not represent the incredible methods which I go to to fix the US PTO on the internet.

My idea.. (not patented btw) (1)

t_allardyce (48447) | more than 9 years ago | (#11047191)

How about "If it sounds too stupid to be true.... ..its null and void"

A Subtle Problem (2, Interesting)

GeckoFood (585211) | more than 9 years ago | (#11047195)

The case workers in the US Patent Office are under the gun to make certain quotas. Failure to make the quota for one quarter will put you under probation. Screw up again in a certain time frame and you're gone. The threat of losing the job is an incentive to rush along with little regard for the absurdity of the patent.

Re:A Subtle Problem (1)

DarthVeda (569302) | more than 9 years ago | (#11047351)

Sounds good, but where are you getting your facts from? I mean, I would like to read about this.

"Shoot the lawyers?" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11047197)

Do away with offensive patent lawsuits...

Patents gone Mad (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11047241)

If Smuckers can patent a sandwich, why can't I patent hamburgers or hotdogs. Just send my royalties when someone eats "a device consisting of two layers of baked wheat/yeast, tomato, lettuce and cooked ground beef".

Increased fees at the USPTO (2, Informative)

lothar97 (768215) | more than 9 years ago | (#11047244)

President Bush just signed the fiscal year 2005 Consolidated Appropriations Act, which includes large changes in the way fees are charged at the USPTO. Before yesterday, there were lump sum fees charged for patent applications, such as $395 for filing a basic utility patent application. Now it is is $150, but now you have to pay two new fees: $250 for a search fee, and $100 for an examination fee. It's now $500 for a basic utility patent application, for a small entity (sole inventor or less than 100 employees). Also, for each claim over 20, it's $25, up from something like $6 (I forget the amount). Extra claims over 20 are $50 for a large entity.

This basically means that it got a lot more expensive to file patents in the US. It's not uncommon for patent applications to have 100 or more claims. Filing fees are lower if you file electronically, but e-filing is a pain (it's not through standalone application, it's through a bloated Word macro that converts things to XML). The USPTO has long griped that it does not get to keep all of the money collected by fees, and methinks that this is another way to generate revenue by the government.

Ill take Potential Patentables for 500, Alex (1)

Foktip (736679) | more than 9 years ago | (#11047249)

they should hire that Jeaprody Champion! Oh wait.. microsoft already hired him.. Okay, what about trivial pursuit champions? ANyway you could even make a show out of it!

Heres a solution everyone can enjoy.
"Fink That Patent" - a fun crazy trivia show where the contestants try to name/list prior art to a given patent, and they have a research database on hand (the internet and access to the american patent database thing) to search/check things. Every show, they go though a few hundred patents of a dubious nature, getting points, and the winner wins something great, like a high paying job at the patent office (lol) or just a normal Prize, or something.

My solution: (1)

lawpoop (604919) | more than 9 years ago | (#11047253)

Have the Halfbakery [halfbakery.com] handle all patent submission. Those people are ruthless when it comes to ideas already thought up!

Much easier - "the toe test" (1)

wowbagger (69688) | more than 9 years ago | (#11047254)

What we need is to go back to the old philosophy of what was, and more importantly what was NOT patentable.

We need to go to the "toe test".


The Toe Test

If I cannot drop it on my toe, or stub my toe on it, it cannot be patented.


Thus, you can patent "A device for playing back recorded movies...." since you can drop that on your toe.

You cannot patent "A method for playing back recorded movies..." as you cannot drop "a method" on your toe.

Make it more like getting planning permission (1)

P-Nuts (592605) | more than 9 years ago | (#11047271)

As I said in a post to a previous topic [slashdot.org] , if getting a patent were more like getting planning permission, the system would be much improved.

i got an idea (1)

grungefade (748722) | more than 9 years ago | (#11047306)

how about we get rid of greed?

Re:i got an idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11047350)

how about we get rid of greed?

While we're at it, lets get rid of hate and war.. we can all love eachother and have a happy and peaceful world.

Haha yeah right, like thats ever gonna happen.

Here is another one (1)

DoktorTomoe (643004) | more than 9 years ago | (#11047314)

Only accept patents that have an chemical or physical background - do not accept patents on business methods or software.

Patent opposition procedures are no silver bullet (4, Interesting)

JPMH (100614) | more than 9 years ago | (#11047327)

According to the article:
First, create incentives and opportunities for parties to challenge the novelty and nonobviousness of an invention before the PTO grants a patent.

A lot of people in the States seem to think that European-style opposition procedures, where private companies can challenge patent applications before the PTO grants them, are some sort of magic solution to the patent mess.

They aren't, at least not by themseves. Opposition procedures can help, but Europe still grants its share of daft patents.

More worryingly, the number of oppositions at the EPO has been steadily falling over the last ten years, though there is no evidence that EPO quality is improving. Instead, companies seem to be deciding that it's simply not cost-effective to put in the resources to do the EPO's job for it. If you're the size of Canon(Europe) for example (who I've heard this argument from), you've got a pretty good arsenal of your own patents you can hope to counter-sue or cross-licence with, and if the bad patent does come to court, you have the resources to fight it at that stage.

The people the worst patents really impact are SMEs, who have to settle, because they can't afford to fight them.

OO! idea! (2, Interesting)

mattyrobinson69 (751521) | more than 9 years ago | (#11047343)

how about a section of slashdot devoted to patents which have been spotted by a /.er (i remember an article in 'main' about microsoft patenting virtual desktops for example), this way the /. crowd can debunk patents as a group, for example somebody might say "i remember twm had virtual desktops in 1992, here's a link to prove it"*.

Then somebody (either one of the /. editors if they feel inclinded) or a /.er can use the following procedure [uspto.gov] to officially protest, or report it to that website of the organisation that protests against patents officially (i spent about 10 mins googling and couldn't find it but im sure somebody else knows what i mean)

* i dont know if this is exactly acurate, just an example

What is an important patent? (2, Insightful)

zangdesign (462534) | more than 9 years ago | (#11047359)

The definition of "important patent" could keep lawyers dining on goose liver for years. What may seem like an unimportant patent today may turn out to be horrendously important many years later.

Can't possibly work (2, Interesting)

Bitmanhome (254112) | more than 9 years ago | (#11047368)

Two of the ideas are already sunk, as they'd require the patent office to spend even more money on reviewing patents. But since they're already out of money, there's nothing more they can do there.

I personally think the patent system is too heavy-weight. A patent should be nothing more than a claim, and it should be granted immediately without review. If you need to protect your invention, you go to court, and point to your claim. At that point, prior art and prior patents are finally investigated. If your patent is useless, it's stamped Common Knowledge, and becomes free. If solid, then you win the case.

As I understand it, this is mostly the way the patent system works now. So what's the problem?

Don't forget the comb-over patent!!! (1)

ccorneli (126033) | more than 9 years ago | (#11047372)

A recent winner at the Ig Nobel awards. (I think he figured out step 2)
The Comb over [cnn.com]
A direct link to the Patent [uspto.gov]
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?