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Legislation To Overhaul US Patent System

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the none-too-soon dept.

Patents 336

FutureDomain sends us to a PC World report on the filing yesterday of legislation to overhaul the US patent system completely. The US has the only system worldwide that tries to ascertain who first invented a thing — everywhere else the criterion is who filed first, and the new legislation would bring the US into line. Identical bills were introduced in both the House and the Senate by, in each case, bipartisan sponsors. The corporate roster of backers includes Microsoft, IBM, Amazon, and nearly everyone else. From the article: "The provisions of the Patent Reform Act would... restrict damages that patent holders can receive for infringement lawsuits, create a new procedure to challenge the validity of a patent after it has been granted, and boost resources for the US Patent and Trademark Office."

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336 comments

Yeah right, like this ever works (1, Troll)

killa62 (828317) | more than 7 years ago | (#18796587)

Nothing for you to see here. Please move along.

Re:Yeah right, like this ever works (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18796645)

"Nothing for you to see here. Please move along."

OY, /. got its first "firster" with his own tag line.

If you have nothing to say, say nothing

Legalized theft! (2, Interesting)

VernonNemitz (581327) | more than 7 years ago | (#18797497)

That's what it means, if filing first is all you need to do. Just steal somebody else's idea and file it first.
Also, I'm curious to know what provision there is, if somebody deliberately puts something into the Public Domain, and somebody else applies for a patent on it afterward.

First Post! (4, Funny)

tygerstripes (832644) | more than 7 years ago | (#18796605)

Er... I mean "Prior art!"

Re:First Post! (3, Insightful)

halivar (535827) | more than 7 years ago | (#18796661)

No, no more prior art. If you filed first, screw prior art. It's yours.

I think this is going to break it worse than it already is.

Re:First Post! (1)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | more than 7 years ago | (#18796733)

Now I can finally put in my patent for fire!

Re:First Post! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18797093)

I think I'll patent life
and while I'm at it, sex.

Don't worry, only 1 cent per second for the former, and $1 per participation in the latter.

Re:First Post! (1)

jdray (645332) | more than 7 years ago | (#18797437)

Don't you mean "method for modifying the stable state of chemical compounds by rapid oxidization" ??

Re:First Post! (5, Insightful)

ThosLives (686517) | more than 7 years ago | (#18796821)

I have to agree here - this is a horrible development.

In my view, the extreme solution is this:

  1. No patents will exist as of 2025.
  2. You can get new patents up to 2025
  3. Any patent existing before 2025 will be in effect but expire on 2025.

A more agreeable solution would be this: Patents only last 5 years.

That will truly spawn innovation, because for anyone to make a buck, they will have to create new novel things. And the consumer will benefit, because innovations in manufacturing efficiency will mean that things take fewer resources to manufacture and last longer - differentiation will be in the product attributes, not in the patent portfolio. Sure, some people will claim they won't be able to recoup development costs or whatever, but that will just mean that development costs will have to come down or people will actually have to *gasp* do something truly innovative to get business. This is mostly Big Medicine, and if Big Medicine can't manage to be profitable at the prices the public is willing to pay (generic prices) without patent protection, then they (and the public) need to rethink the model: The public can either have new drugs and pay a lot to support the development costs, or have cheap generic drugs and no new ones. Supply and demand, free-market style (without the protectionism of patents).

Re:First Post! (1)

dsanfte (443781) | more than 7 years ago | (#18797277)

A short migraine is still a migraine. The patent system is a clusterfuck.

Re:First Post! (5, Insightful)

jguthrie (57467) | more than 7 years ago | (#18796829)

Prior art determines patentability, not the determination of who the inventor is. Look, patents are issued to inventors. In order for that to happen, the inventor must be determined. Right now, the standard in the US is "first to invent", which means that the patent office has to examine the evidence and determine who invented the invention first. Now, since they obviously can't trust anyone's word on the subject, they have to examine evidence which is usually (always? IANAL) in the form of notebooks that have to be properly kept. In the absence of other evidence, the first person to file is declared the inventor.

Now, this is not to say that the bill would not break the US patent system any more than it already is, but one really can't tell that just from reading a summary. You should read the actual bill before concluding that it makes any problems worse.

Re:First Post! (3, Insightful)

mikeisme77 (938209) | more than 7 years ago | (#18797365)

I think it's already pretty clear that it will be bad as it will benefit patent trolls and hurt technologies developed by consortiums or open source projects (neither of which tend to patent their ideas--consortiums just establish standards that define the technologies, and open source projects normally don't waste the money on patents). For example, look at the Verizon vs. Vonage case where Verizon was the first to patent, but as of a Slashdot story yesterday it seems that a consortium of various IT companies actually met and established the standards/protocols/underlying technology of VoiP in question at least a year prior to Verizon filing for a patent.

Not a prior art problem (2, Informative)

PatentMagus (1083289) | more than 7 years ago | (#18797269)

The same prior art applies in a first to file system. If it is out there and published/used/known, then it is prior art and can be used to reject patent claims.

Trade secrets, however, get a good hosing. If you keep something secret and someone else patents your secret, you could suddenly find yourself paying royalties.

No more prior art? I think not. (3, Informative)

vtcodger (957785) | more than 7 years ago | (#18797515)

***No, no more prior art. If you filed first, screw prior art. It's yours.***

I'm pretty sure that's incorrect. Prior art should still hold in that you can't patent something that was described by DaVinci, Ben Franklin, Alexander Graham Bell, Erosthanes, or some dude in Ohio in 1998 on his web site. What first to file means is that the USPTO no longer needs to flip a coin when it gets three applications for the same thing and needs to determine who made the invention when.

See http://www.heise.de/english/newsticker/news/86141 [heise.de] which makes if pretty clear that Germany -- a first to file country -- considers prior art in judging the validity of patents.

Of course, I'm no patent expert, and the US Congress with a little help from the lobbiests is capable of coming up with absolutely abominable legislation . But I'd keep an open mind on this one at least for a while for a while.

Re:First Post! (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18796741)

I mean "Prior art!"

Nothing to do with prior art - prior art invalidates patents in first-to-file countries* as well as first-to-patent countries.

It's more when two inventors develops something novel at the same time. Who gets the patent? First to invent - or first to file?

* Which include the Phillipines as well as the US?

Re:First Post! (1)

ThosLives (686517) | more than 7 years ago | (#18796939)

It's more when two inventors develops something novel at the same time. Who gets the patent? First to invent - or first to file?

Nobody, because it's "obvious to one skilled in the art"?

Actually, if two people develop it, it's no longer 'novel' by definition and so fails the validity tests.

Re:First Post! (1)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 7 years ago | (#18797027)

It's more when two inventors develops something novel at the same time. Who gets the patent? First to invent - or first to file?

It has never been first to invent anyway -- that's just a red herring. The entire question is, who has the money to defend the patent in court. Because if you don't, the odds are, you're going to lose it as soon as someone wants it. It's a corporate favoritism scam. It's always been a scam. It's not just a scam because of this, either. If we both invent something, you might take ten times the resources that I did, going about it methodically, where I might just stumble into it... an idea, a test, and viola! Your efforts are 100% wasted, even though you invented it just as legitimately as I did. Further, some wag down the line doesn't know about our work, and a year later, he invents it too. Boy, has he got a nasty surprise waiting for him. For all of these reasons, and more, the patent system is one that mainly spreads disadvantage. The underlying idea is false too - the idea that "we need to be encouraged." Tell that to the OO authors, the Gimp authors, to all the inventors and authors without patents. We don't need encouragement. We just need to be left alone!

As far as I'm concerned, the only legitimate use of an idea is to turn it into a product or use it to make more ideas. You can make money by selling just the idea now, because patents create artificial scarcity. Better if you sold something made from your idea, or just published for everyone's benefit. And before the pharma trolls come out of the woodwork, just take most of the damned legislation and regulation off pharma companies, and they'd be fine. We'd get new drugs at a much higher rate, and yes, just as happens now, sometimes there would be problems, despite testing.

If keeping an idea secret long enough to get it out on the market isn't enough to make you a decent profit with the aid of marketing... then maybe you should be flipping burgers and let the real entrepreneurs get to work.

Re:First Post! (1)

CogDissident (951207) | more than 7 years ago | (#18797453)

But then what about companies that spend MILLIONS of dollars making a product, with thousands of people having worked on at least a small part of it? Even if they did keep a secret, they'd only have a few months in the marketplace before some knock-off-vendor was making cheap copies or doing the same thing with their products.

Re:First Post! (1)

yog (19073) | more than 7 years ago | (#18797481)

fyngyrz: "And before the pharma trolls come out of the woodwork, just take most of the damned legislation and regulation off pharma companies, and they'd be fine. We'd get new drugs at a much higher rate, and yes, just as happens now, sometimes there would be problems, despite testing"

If only that were the case. Patents are the least of pharma's issues. Liability is the number one reason that new drugs are not being developed or released. There is a whole industry of class action lawyers constantly searching for the next company to attack, and a drug's purported side effect can result in jury-awarded damages in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Get pretty Sally on the stand tearfully describing how this heart drug killed her poor papa. One contaminated batch is enough to put a company out of business.

This is the reason why U.S. pharmaceutical companies stopped manufacturing flu vaccines, resulting in a major shortage a couple of years ago.

Is it right that an entire company should be punished because of one technician's error, or because of a bad executive decision regarding test results? Legally, it it, because human life is assigned a very high monetary value in the U.S. and companies are legal entities with collective responsibility for their mistakes (inadvertent though they may be).

Is it generally good for society that this kind of liability is assumed? Probably not, because the marginal diseases end up not getting cures. Companies just can't assume the risks for drugs that have a tiny end market. Even major drugs are almost prohibitively risky today.

I think patents are absolutely necessary to keep drug development going, but liability has got to be limited in some way or no one's going to be doing the R&D regardless of patent reform.

The other major reform is for the Federal Government to get off its Christian anti-science kick and start funding basic scientific research again the way we did back in the '50s and '60s, when the U.S. left everyone else in the dust. Double the budget or triple it, create a market for science Ph.D.s and get the research going. The life changing innovations that come out of basic research will far outweigh any patent shenanigans we have to deal with.

Re:First Post! (2, Interesting)

Sandbags (964742) | more than 7 years ago | (#18796867)

OK, so have we're coming in line with the rest of the world where little inventors and small time research firms can get screwed because some inside guy leaked details and a major corp like Microsoft or Verizon throws a bunch of money at the idea to develop it first, then patent it before the small guy can even finish his write up and submit it. in other words, we're implementing a system where big corps can steal ideas for little guys who are too slow, too poor, or simply don't know how too file a patent, and then these small guys get NOTHING.

Hmmm (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18796619)

Why don't they do something useful like void software and business method patents while they're at it?

Re:Hmmm (3, Insightful)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 7 years ago | (#18797099)

Why don't they do something useful like void software and business method patents while they're at it?

They never do anything useful, you silly person. They're the federal government. They're operating largely outside the bounds of the constitution and their primary foci are to (a) consolidate power, and (b) accrue money and distribute it to the power holders. See their current "interpretation" of the commerce clause for details. I'll give you a capsule: The constitution says the feds can govern INTERstate commerce. The feds say that means they can govern INTRAstate commerce. See how that works? Black is white, white is black, and your complaints are double-plus ungood. Now go back to sleep like a good citizen.

Are they going to patent this new system? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18796621)

Are they going to patent this new system? or can I steal the idea!?

Re:Are they going to patent this new system? (1)

Ginger Unicorn (952287) | more than 7 years ago | (#18796631)

only if you file the patent first

Re:Are they going to patent this new system? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18796899)

awwww how cute! a unicorn replied to my post.

well, maybe I wouldn't be able to file the patent because they're in the middle of overhauling it :(

Re:Are they going to patent this new system? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18796751)

You could apply for a patent on the method or evaluation system before they publish details. If you can patent software as part of a general purpose computing device, you can patent anything. You just twist the meaning of words to suit legal precedent and are handed a 20 year monopoly thanks to the patent system. The entire patent system needs overhauling, this is an attempt to been to do something under the guise of "patent reform" without actually addressing the issues. Amazon, IBM and Microsoft wouldn't be supporting anything that attempted to actually fix the problems with the patent system.

Translation ... Garage inventer will be screwed! (1)

ScrewTivo (458228) | more than 7 years ago | (#18796639)

Big Corp mass patent departments will continue to swamp the USPO and now can do it without worry of prior art. Just shoot me now. (only kidding...eh?)

Re:Translation ... Garage inventer will be screwed (5, Informative)

Carewolf (581105) | more than 7 years ago | (#18796743)

No. Prior art stays the same. If anyone has published a the same idea before it is not patentable (in theory, in practice USPO will still not check it),

The old system just had the option of companies not filing patents and not publishing their results could come in and claim they invented the idea first.

The new system is much less corrupt and more open.

Re:Translation ... Garage inventer will be screwed (3, Informative)

MrNJ (955045) | more than 7 years ago | (#18797053)

No. Under the current system, the first to invent has 1 year (I think) to use the invention without worrying about "race to the Patent Office" that exists in the "first-to-file" countries. If anything, changing the system to the "first-to-file" rule would result in more filings because companies would be pressed to file as soon as possible to establish priority. Instead, the Congress should clarify the non-obviousness requirement and perhaps require USPTO to hire examiners with experience in the software development to review software patent applications.

Re:Translation ... Garage inventer will be screwed (1)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 7 years ago | (#18797513)

Actually you have that backwards.

In most of the world publishing is valid prior art on the day it happens. You can try to file a patent on something like that but it'll be struck down on the first challenge.

In the use publishing is *not* prior art unless you've been published for at least a year. That means if you for example you release a program that does something cool you *must* patent prior to release or lose it - hence you end up with the clusterfuck that is the US patent system, because damn obvious stuff gets patented *after* it's been on the market.

Please... mod this guy up. (1)

not-admin (943926) | more than 7 years ago | (#18797087)

He knows what he's talking about.

Re:Translation ... Garage inventer will be screwed (1)

IAmTheDave (746256) | more than 7 years ago | (#18797541)

No. Prior art stays the same. If anyone has published a the same idea before it is not patentable... The new system is much less corrupt and more open.

Define "publish" - because in theory anything I put on paper is copyrighted, but trying to get a plagiarism suit proven based on my napkin scribblings of a kid wizard at a school named Frogwarts is gonna be tough.

I suppose prior art is a type of "publishing" but this makes it even harder for a patent to get overturned. Most of the headaches of the current system are exactly what this system is proposing - the first to the gate in filing a patent wins it. That's exactly the nightmare we're dealing with now - Garage Inventor has idea A but Big Company files a patent for it. When Garage Inventor starts to get big, Big Company says "whoa, we have a patent on A" even though Garage Inventor has years of prior art.

In my mind, this solves nothing.

Re:Translation ... Garage inventer will be screwed (1)

Bastard of Subhumani (827601) | more than 7 years ago | (#18796749)

Where in the article does it say that prior art doesn't count?

Re:Translation ... Garage inventer will be screwed (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 7 years ago | (#18797037)

It would award patents to people who first file for the patents, instead of those first to invent, it limits damages patent holders can collect in infringement lawsuits, and it creates a new procedure for those questioning the validity of a patent to challenge it after it's been granted. - FTFA

Right there.

A invents X.
B invents X.
C invents X.
C files for patent.

Under the current system, C can't have the patent because A and B have prior art. (Assuming the USPTO does its job.)

Under the proposed system, according to the article, C gets the patent and A and B are screwed.

This is, of course, assuming the article has ANY clue what is really in the proposed legislation.

You can argue that the USPTO is not doing its job all you want, but there's no evidence that it will start with new legislation. If the only 2 options are "make the USPTO do its job" and the new legislation, the former is a LOT better.

Re:Translation ... Garage inventer will be screwed (1)

kidtruth (1090475) | more than 7 years ago | (#18797191)

This is not entirely accurate. If inventor "C" actually thought it up first, or "reduced it to practice" in the form of a list of workable steps, and has adequate proof (published documents of any kind usually will do) he could be awarded a patent. That's the difference between the American system and all other patent systems (A lot of people have gotten this totally wrong.) In ALL countries other than America, the person to file for the invention (Or simply file a Notice of Disclosure) would be allowed the patent.

Re:Translation ... Garage inventer will be screwed (1)

Bastard of Subhumani (827601) | more than 7 years ago | (#18797233)

Under the current system, C can't have the patent because A and B have prior art. (Assuming the USPTO does its job.)
And assuming they published it.

Re:Translation ... Garage inventer will be screwed (1)

mOdQuArK! (87332) | more than 7 years ago | (#18797291)

Unless A & B published their work before C filed, in which case the published details would serve as prior art that could be used to invalidate C's attempt to file (or more likely, could be used to challenge C's granted patent after the USPTO completely overlooked A's & B's published work).

Re:Translation ... Garage inventer will be screwed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18796761)

Probably yes, and companies coming up with new serious inventions. Now is the time to lobby congress to put a cap of 10% of the sales price of the item for patent licensing. This will improve the lot of garage inventors; companies trying to do mobile innovation (disclaimer: I work for one); and Free software developers.

Re:Translation ... Garage inventer will be screwed (1)

Bastard of Subhumani (827601) | more than 7 years ago | (#18796835)

Great! Replace a system that's wrong with one that's bureacratic, cumbersome and unworkable. And wrong.

Oh, well, that changes things.... no, not really (1)

SpacePunk (17960) | more than 7 years ago | (#18796647)

So, they want to change it so that it's 'in line' with being broken? It's like me throwing a pot on the ground, someone saying "Hey, that pot is broken", and me saying "No, it's a cracked pot, it's no longer broken."

Re:Oh, well, that changes things.... no, not reall (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18797327)

No pun intended! he he

Wouldn't this actually be a huge step BACKWARD?!? (4, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 7 years ago | (#18796655)

The biggest problem with patents right now is companies patenting all sorts of things, ideas, systems, etc. that they didn't invent. A great example is Microsoft trying to patent [slashdot.org] "spectator mode" in games (despite the fact that PC games have been doing it for YEARS).

This legislation basically sounds like a free pass for companies to do this, and throw out the idea of "prior art" altogether. It's little wonder the big IP corporations are behind this (since they have the resources to file scores of patents, strong-arming out the little guys who may have actually invented them). And it's little wonder the patent office is behind it (since it GREATLY simplifies their job). But, for the consumer in particular, and for innovation in general, this could be one of the biggest bonehead moves out legislators have ever made (and that says a LOT).

Re:Wouldn't this actually be a huge step BACKWARD? (1)

SpacePunk (17960) | more than 7 years ago | (#18796689)

It would vindicate the entities in the U.S. that 'filed first', and in the present system didn't invent the item which makes their patent illegal. I smell large amounts of money, and am wondering which person in Washington D.C. suddenly has a huge wad of cash to spend.

Re:Wouldn't this actually be a huge step BACKWARD? (4, Insightful)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 7 years ago | (#18797213)

I smell large amounts of money, and am wondering which person in Washington D.C. suddenly has a huge wad of cash to spend.

It isn't just money, you know. It is the promise of jobs after government employment. Low-rate loans. "Speaking" engagements. Lecture tours. Book deals. Boats. Houses. Sex. Vacations, junkets and "fact-finding" missions. Access to people in power. Tips - market and otherwise. All manner of free dinners and drinks. Power for its own sake. Oh, and of course - money.

There is no more corrosive environment than a political position in Washington DC. It's a wonder our representatives don't outright grow horns the first day on the job. Sadly, a 100% corrupt person looks just like one that isn't.

Re:Wouldn't this actually be a huge step BACKWARD? (3, Insightful)

daeg (828071) | more than 7 years ago | (#18796747)

It also means that every company, big or small, will have to try to patent EVERYTHING. If you don't, you risk becoming an infringer later. The law will make patents a necessity for operating even the smallest of business, and could easily render nearly every business out there an infringer.

The horse had a bad broken leg before, now we're going to add a bullet through its skull and still try to ride it.

Re:Wouldn't this actually be a huge step BACKWARD? (4, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 7 years ago | (#18796863)

And, that in turn means that innovation will stagnate because it will become impossible for any small company of individual to invent ANYTHING which doesn't infringe on some big corp's patent. Only the most powerful corps (with the connections, reciprocal patents, and $$ to make deals with OTHER big corps) will be able to innovate. The little guy (like the guys who founded Netscape, Google, YouTube, etc.) will be completely shut out of the game.

Re:Wouldn't this actually be a huge step BACKWARD? (5, Informative)

JTL21 (190706) | more than 7 years ago | (#18796941)

In the rest of the world published prior art still disallows patents.

Filed first is just the decider when two applications are made for the same invention (which was secret until the applications).

In most of the world the person who gets to the patent office first gets the patent and the one who gets there second gets nothing. In the US you can claim that you invented it before the other party and try to prove it with dated notes etc. which were previously not published. In theory the first to have the invention gets the patent not the first to file. This leads to messy legal fights.

In the rest of the world the incentive is to file (and therefore publish) first which gives a clearer decision on this issue.

Joseph

Re:Wouldn't this actually be a huge step BACKWARD? (1)

neoform (551705) | more than 7 years ago | (#18796945)

That's exactly what I was thinking when i saw that headline..

I've got a bunch of ideas I wouldn't mind patenting, but haven't a clue how to do it, nor the money to waste on lawyers..

With this new system, companies would be able to set themselves up doing nothing other than watching smaller companies, then patenting their ideas, only to use those patents to sue the actual creator. That being their entire business model.

Re:Wouldn't this actually be a huge step BACKWARD? (1)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 7 years ago | (#18797557)

No you wouldn't because you just publish and it's valid prior art.

Except in the US under the present system prior art has to be published for 12 months before it's valid.. which is what needs fixing first. Hopefully the new rules will fix this as well.

Yes, especially... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18797123)

since the bill does NOTHING to limit patent terms or scopes. Period. You better believe this is a free pass for large corporations, higher-paid USPTO management, and greedy politicians looking for election time contributions. Meanwhile, the citizens can smell the K-Y getting warmed up.

Prior art will no longer matter. USPTO will rubber stamp patent applications and be able to fire many researchers who are no longer needed because a computer awards based on timestamp. The shark feeding frenzy over patent application has only been a foreshadowed to this point. Realize how many applications will flood the computer banks when the only rule of law is He Who Files First Gets Ownership for Decades.

Follow the money. Which scumbag politicians are leading this particular charge? And what are their respective past trackrecords?

ob (1)

Mipoti Gusundar (1028156) | more than 7 years ago | (#18796663)

Identical bills were introduced in both the House and the Senate by, in each case, bipartisan sponsors.
Yes, but which was being frist?

Restrict Damages (1)

abaddononion (1004472) | more than 7 years ago | (#18796671)

...restrict damages that patent holders can receive for infringement lawsuits...

I really like the sound of that. It seems to me like it's probably the most overdue thing here. Patents are there to protect the little man from being run over by big companies. Not to allow big companies an extra avenue to milk millions out of the industry by patent-sitting. If the amount of money you could get from having patents was dramatically reduced, it's entirely possible some of the nonsense in the industry right now might start to thin a little.

But, realistically, it's probably just a pretty ephemeral dream. Like Communism.

Re:Restrict Damages (1)

SpacePunk (17960) | more than 7 years ago | (#18796707)

We'll see how much you like it when you invent something, and some asshole runs to the patent office to get a patent on it.

Re:Restrict Damages (1)

abaddononion (1004472) | more than 7 years ago | (#18797085)

What is your point? It's not as if this never happens under our current system. Or, even more likely, I invent something, but didnt know that some other company already had some really *vague* patent idea that allows them to cast a wing over what I invented.

The fact of the matter is our patent system IS getting abused. Left and right. And part of the problem there is that it has just become so profitable, and is really handy at trying to create a state of monopoly or semi-monopoly. Like how Verizon is trying to make certain that new technologies cant spring up to challenge the old archaic phone companies. And they're succeeding.

I think the idea of "restricting" the damages is a good thing. If the idea behind patents is to protect the "little" guy, then there's no reason that you should be able to use a patent to levy out millions and millions of dollars in damages against patent offenders, at least IMO. If I invent something, and then some other company steals my idea, and goes out and does something better with it, maybe because they had the capital to invest and I didnt... well, then, it sucks to be me. But it's GOOD for the industry, because whatever I invented is now out there, helping consumers. And yes, I do think I should be able to get some reparations. But do I think I should be able to grind that infringing company back into the ground, earn a vast majority of the profits when THEY did all of the work, and send the industry one step backwards so I can retire forever? No. Absolutely not.

And I never made any comment whatsoever about the other part, the "whomever patents first" notion, so dont presume to know my take on it, please. I was just saying that I dont think this reform is ALL bad. It may be bad overall, but at least there seems to be one nice element to it, IMO.

Re:Restrict Damages (1)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 7 years ago | (#18796783)

I really like the sound of that. It seems to me like it's probably the most overdue thing here. Patents are there to protect the little man from being run over by big companies. Not to allow big companies an extra avenue to milk millions out of the industry by patent-sitting.
That's precisely what this legislation seems to make a whole pantload easier. I, for one, really don't like the sound of this.

Re:Restrict Damages (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18797511)

The PTO hasn't done a really good job up to now figuring out if a patent application is any good. Maybe it's best to just stop pretending that they can do a good job.

Re:Restrict Damages (1)

kidtruth (1090475) | more than 7 years ago | (#18797287)

That's not at all what the USPTO does, or is for. It's theoretically insensitive to the wealth of the person applying for a patent. The USPTO, and patent offices in all countries, are made to give inventors incentive to create and profit from their creations. It allows you a 20 year period of protection to sell your invention exclusively, before everyone can sell it (public domain.) Patenting works in the interest of society as a whole, and doesn't limit mega-corporations.

Re:Restrict Damages (2)

BadMrMojo (767184) | more than 7 years ago | (#18797357)

..restrict damages that patent holders can receive for infringement lawsuits...

I really like the sound of that. It seems to me like it's probably the most overdue thing here. Patents are there to protect the little man from being run over by big companies. Not to allow big companies an extra avenue to milk millions out of the industry by patent-sitting. If the amount of money you could get from having patents was dramatically reduced, it's entirely possible some of the nonsense in the industry right now might start to thin a little.


The problem is, if they reduce the damages enough to protect the little guy, they're removing the deterrent that prevents the big guy from just flagrantly violating the patent and going on his merry, cash-strewn way.

Why wouldn't a big guy steal a little guy's idea if the penalty for doing so was less than the money they'd make from stealing it? Sort of like when auto companies compare the cost of a recall for a deficient car vs. the cost of getting sued by not issuing a recall and just letting people die.

Bizarroworld (4, Interesting)

N8F8 (4562) | more than 7 years ago | (#18796683)

This only magnifies the problem with the existing system where only the big guys can AFFORD to file patents and actually enforce them.

Re:Bizarroworld (4, Insightful)

operagost (62405) | more than 7 years ago | (#18797331)

It costs only $150 for a "small entity" to file a patent, and it doesn't take a patent lawyer to present the documentation to the court. If it exists, the patent holder can provide the documentation. The problem lies with inventors who don't patent their work, believing (often correctly) that it is obvious and unpatentable, but the patent office grants one to the "big guys" anyway.

Overhaul? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18796705)

Sounds like a minor tweak, where's the 'PRIOR' art test or the 'OBVIOUS' or the 'TECHNICAL APPLICATION' test? Where's the independent check of those?

Usually these laws are written by patent lawyers to benefit patent lawyers and I bet this one is no different. Check, does clause 29384.23.21 mean they don't have to read the patent before rubber stamping it and cashing the check?

And are they going to lower the costs of this? (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 7 years ago | (#18796717)

It is nice that it is file first, but the costs have to be low enough that plain folks can file. Otherwise, it is the larger and richer ppl who win out.

Re:And are they going to lower the costs of this? (1)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 7 years ago | (#18797259)

It is nice that it is file first, but the costs have to be low enough that plain folks can file. Otherwise, it is the larger and richer ppl who win out.

It has nothing to do with the cost of filing. It is the cost of defense that you should be concerned about. Compared to that, the cost of filing is nothing.

Frankly, this worries me (5, Insightful)

xiard (866646) | more than 7 years ago | (#18796739)

I think I understand the rationale for changing the law, but as an application developer it worries me. I'm not interested in trying to patent software that I create, or any of the techniques that I use. I'm more interested in creating applications that are so compelling that they set a high standard that is difficult for competitors to meet, and then continously innovate to stay ahead of them. However, I have always felt like I could rely on the fact that I would be able to prove that I had "invented" the software techniques I use in my applications by keeping good records of my design documents, source code control history, etc. My worry with this new proposed law is that someone could take advantage of the fact that I don't care to go through the hassle of patenting aspects of my software and swoop in and patent the concepts themselves. It almost seems like it could foster a new age of "patent squatters" similar to URL squatters. Opportunists took advantage of the fact that many companies didn't acquire their trademark URLs in the web's infancy. I could easily see a similar technique arising with patents. All you would have to do is: - pick some successful web sites - check to see if they're doing anything remotely worth patenting - see if there's a patent yet for that - file the patent if there's not - blackmail the web site, threatening to shut them down if they don't pay you a royalty/settlement for the use of "their" technique. Am I off base here? Of course, I haven't read TFA yet, so I very well could be.

Re:Frankly, this worries me (2, Interesting)

xiard (866646) | more than 7 years ago | (#18796787)

Damn, I knew I should have previewed. And now, a more legible version.

I think I understand the rationale for changing the law, but as an application developer it worries me. I'm not interested in trying to patent software that I create, or any of the techniques that I use. I'm more interested in creating applications that are so compelling that they set a high standard that is difficult for competitors to meet, and then continously innovate to stay ahead of them.

However, I have always felt like I could rely on the fact that I would be able to prove that I had "invented" the software techniques I use in my applications by keeping good records of my design documents, source code control history, etc. My worry with this new proposed law is that someone could take advantage of the fact that I don't care to go through the hassle of patenting aspects of my software and swoop in and patent the concepts themselves.

It almost seems like it could foster a new age of "patent squatters" similar to URL squatters. Opportunists took advantage of the fact that many companies didn't acquire their trademark URLs in the web's infancy. I could easily see a similar technique arising with patents. All you would have to do is:

  • pick some successful web sites
  • check to see if they're doing anything remotely worth patenting
  • see if there's a patent yet for that - file the patent if there's not
  • blackmail the web site, threatening to shut them down if they don't pay you a royalty/settlement for the use of "their" technique.
Am I off base here? Of course, I haven't read TFA yet, so I very well could be.

Re:Frankly, this worries me (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18796891)

Under current US patent law, keeping detialed records of your designs and inventions is only useful if you intend to patent them, and then need to prove the invention date to get priority for your patent application over some other guy's application. Detailed records don't do squat if you don't file patent applications for your work.

If you aren't filing patents, then the only way to protect yourself in the current system is to publish your work (thus making it "prior art"). Regardless, someone could later file for a patent and claim that they invented it before your publication date.

In the "first to file" system, publication is still the way to keep yourself safe. Published inventions cannot be patented. What's better in the "first to file" system than the current "first to invent" system is that once you have published something, then it cannot be patented any more, unless someone managed to file their patent application while your publication was still in print (thus getting a filing date before your publication date).

The key point is, you need to publish your work to be safe from patent trolls.

Good news, bad news (1)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 7 years ago | (#18796745)

There's a lot of good news in this bill. The bad news is that with statutory limitations on infringement damages, large companies who are experts in the art of accounting for legal judgments as just another business expense (cough, Microsoft, cough) won't let a little thing like a patent stand in the way of profit.

Still, if Big Pharma is against it, it's probably a good thing overall.

Pork for the big companies (4, Insightful)

btarval (874919) | more than 7 years ago | (#18796805)

"The corporate roster of backers includes Microsoft, IBM, Amazon, ..."

Each of these companies is well-known for abusing Software patents; the first two in order to maintain their monopolies. Usually "reform" by these folks means "give me a bigger piece of the pie in order to stifle innovation and keep the little guys out".

Pardon my suspicions, but I doubt this so-called "reform" is here to help us. TFA isn't clear on this, but it sounds like this is just to establish the first-to-file basis of patents, rather thna first-to-invent. First-to-invent is advantagous for the little guy, so it's no wonder the big companies are behind this dubious "reform". This is not good legislation.

If they really wanted to reform the system, it would be better to either toss out Software Patents (and harmonize our system with much of the rest of the world) or at least require a working prototype before a Software Patent is granted.

Re:Pork for the big companies (4, Informative)

thebdj (768618) | more than 7 years ago | (#18797003)

Each of these companies is well-known for abusing Software patents; the first two in order to maintain their monopolies.
Can you please tell me what monopoly IBM has? Are they a HUGE multi-national corporation? Yes, but a monopoly they hardly are. What share of the PC market do they own? Oh right, all that was sold off to Lenovo. What percent of the server market? Unix Market? Now, what percent of the OS market is Microsoft? Go re-read the definition of monopoly first. As for abusing patents, Microsoft and IBM have not sued anyone with their patents that I am aware of. In large part because the computer industry would be destroyed. There is sort of a *wink*wink* agreement within the computer industry as it relates to patents. I will give you that Amazon is basically abusing their really shitty patent for 1-click.

Usually "reform" by these folks means "give me a bigger piece of the pie in order to stifle innovation and keep the little guys out".
Actually, some of the reform these guys have proposed and the briefs they have written for SCOTUS cases have been in favor of things that would REDUCE the number of patents. At least one item would probably destroy half of their patent portfolios. It is actually kind of funny, but the people who always seem to be on the opposite side of the technology companies in these sorts of reforms are the big pharmaceutical companies. Makes you wonder who is the bigger evil.

Pardon my suspicions, but I doubt this so-called "reform" is here to help us. TFA isn't clear on this, but it sounds like this is just to establish the first-to-file basis of patents, rather thna first-to-invent. First-to-invent is advantagous for the little guy, so it's no wonder the big companies are behind this dubious "reform". This is not good legislation.
First to invent is a mess. Speaking as a former patent examiner, it is not pretty and creates about as many issues as it would ever solve. It is out-of-line with the entire world, which allows for other countries to issue the exact same patent to another company than who it was issued to in the US. It also allows companies to come back to back-date their date-of-invention to circumvent prior art, something they would no longer be able to do with the current system. It would also get rid of interferences, for the most part, something that takes up the BPAI time instead of working on appeals, which is far more important to the overall process.

If they really wanted to reform the system, it would be better to either toss out Software Patents (and harmonize our system with much of the rest of the world) or at least require a working prototype before a Software Patent is granted.
Um, working prototype is currently a requirement FOR ALL PATENTS. You do not patent an idea, you patent an invention, the actual item. It is actually within the right of the USPTO to ask for a working prototype if the functionality or existence of an item comes into question. This is very rare, but it can be done. So, for a Software patent to be issued, it would actually have to be in some form of use. Removal of Software patents and more importantly business-method patents is important. It would truly create harmonization with the rest of the world, since the US has failed multiple times to convince other nations to allow patentability of software.

Re:Pork for the big companies (2, Informative)

kidtruth (1090475) | more than 7 years ago | (#18797359)

"Um, working prototype is currently a requirement FOR ALL PATENTS. You do not patent an idea, you patent an invention, the actual item." Incorrect. You must only reduce your idea to practice, which means you can make a detailed list or explanation of your invention rather than a working prototype. You can patent something that doesn't exist, or doesn't work. It only must THEORETICALLY work. Of course, if the language is not extremely specific as to what the invention does, the patent claims will not protect against anything. This is a protection of the USPTO to protect those who don't have millions to spend on R&D.

Re:Pork for the big companies (1)

thebdj (768618) | more than 7 years ago | (#18797427)

Um, no. 35 USC 101. I cannot remember how many times they told me you had to have the actual invention. None of this theoretical BS goes. If so, people could get away with patenting their "theoretical" anti-gravity machines and perpetual motion machines. They can exist in theory but they do not really exist.

Re:Pork for the big companies (1)

ciggieposeur (715798) | more than 7 years ago | (#18797525)

Can you please tell me what monopoly IBM has?

For a former patent examiner I am quite surprised that you don't know the history of IBM's monopolies in both mainframe and PC computing, and the fact that they used their patent portfolio very aggressively to protect those monopolies. Though AFAIK they were never convicted of legal monopoly status.

It took serious money for Compaq to reverse-engineer their BIOS enough to run MSDOS on their first PC clone. For years afterward there were various BIOSes that had differing levels of compatibility with the IBM PC BIOS such that applications were listed to run only on "100% IBM compatible" PCs.

I'm not sure I get it (1)

glwtta (532858) | more than 7 years ago | (#18796807)

And I'm sure I won't be the only one to ask this.

There are many things broken with the current patent system, but how exactly is a first-to-file system better? Seems like this only makes it easier to patent the useless and ridiculously broad crap that the current system is clogged with.

Re:I'm not sure I get it (3, Informative)

Bastard of Subhumani (827601) | more than 7 years ago | (#18796963)

The advantage of the 'first to file' rule is it prevents the situation where A patents something and B goes "Oi! I thought of that last year. Honest. Ask my cousin C and pal D". Big companies have an advantage in that kind of trick: 'Sure we did, just ask employees E1 ... En.

It has no bearing on patenting beer, the sky or sex, which ought to be covered by other rules (novelty and non-obviousness to start, but also the fact that they naturally exist). Or at least it shouldn't have... this is the USPTO we're talking about.

Re:I'm not sure I get it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18797443)

because it's European. Not American. Get it?

Rest of the world - Good, You - Evil!

Learn to put up with it.

You'd have to be INSANE to support this. (0, Redundant)

mumblestheclown (569987) | more than 7 years ago | (#18796853)

Those of you reading for my posts know that I am often accused of astroturfing for various companies or being a hack or whatever because of my generally pro-copyright views and (since 1997) general lack of enthusiasm for the scalability of OSS. However, on this one I cast my lot with the No Logo, penguin-on-a-black-t-shirt crowd and call this out for what it is: an attempt by very strong corporate interests with large in-house law departments to do an end-round on the prior art of small inventors who have not filed. the result? Anything from a Japan-like insane number of defensive, speculative, and useless patent filing jamboree to a Europe-like devaluation of the value of the inventor in lieu of the mba-like hacks (full disclosure: I have an MBA from a top school, but I also have my bona fides :). The USA may be wrong on the war on Iraq and still using Imperial measurements, but fark the crazy idea of 'whoever files' in this case - it's anti-consumer in every way possible.

Re:You'd have to be INSANE to support this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18797097)

n attempt by very strong corporate interests with large in-house law departments to do an end-round on the prior art of small inventors who have not filed
I can honestly say, that Microsoft has filed for patents using multiple law firms, none of them in-house. There is a whole other array of stuff to handle for patent law and in-house lawyers for simply filing and maintaining patent cases is not overly cost effective. It also is a pain since all patent lawyers have to be registered anyway. Also, the prior art of small inventors who have not filed, is not prior art if it does not meet the definitions of prior art under 35 USC 102. Also, if you sit on your hands and do not file, I do not think you deserve protection by the first-to-invent system. It doesn't work in the rest of the world, why in the US.

Anything from a Japan-like insane number of defensive, speculative, and useless patent filing jamboree to a Europe-like devaluation of the value of the inventor in lieu of the mba-like hacks
What do you think the current system is? There are tons of useless patents filed. There are probably just as many defensive ones filed. I actually have read better Japanese issued patents, if you read past the bad machine translations. I really do not get the de-valuing of the inventor. Those with assignee's are already getting nothing or next to nothing. The small inventors already make up such a small part of the patent process any more that I do not see this being an issue. Also, the companies supporting it do not exactly have many small time patent filers in their fields.

Only Country . . . (1)

Dausha (546002) | more than 7 years ago | (#18796861)

The statement "only country" belies an argumentum ad populum. When we acknowledged the woman's right to vote, we were the only country (or one of the only). So, was that wrong? We are one of the few countries to use the common law system; a system of law that proved its success for over a 1000 years and derived from the rights _rich_ Romans got (such as jury trial), which the peasants did not.

There's nothing wrong with being the only country, especially when we're right.

Re:Only Country . . . (1)

ohearn (969704) | more than 7 years ago | (#18797533)

I have no problem if they want to go to a first to file. It does at least simplify the system a lot. Maybe in the process Congress will also realize we are the "only country" (or at least one of a shrinking number) that supports software patents as well. Maybe if we reduce the number of things that can be patented then this will be a good thing over all and people can go back to just using trade secrets.

At least the bill does seem to give the patent office additional resources to get thier job done.

We will see how this proceeds through Congress (2, Interesting)

SamShazaam (713403) | more than 7 years ago | (#18796883)

The USPTO has been a laughing stock for years and any effort to reform it should be applauded. Still, this is only the starting point and we will have to wait and see how it changes as it goes though the legislative process. This reform has been needed for quite some time.

More like fine-tunning (4, Interesting)

Aceticon (140883) | more than 7 years ago | (#18796893)

Judging from the article this does nothing to limit the "Doing something that everybody has been doing for years ... over the Internet"; "Doing something that everybody has been doing for years ... wirelessly" kind of patents.

Or the "Get a bunch of specialists in a room and ask them 'How would you solve problem X' and then patent the solutions" approach to "innovation".

Not to mention that the change from a "Prior-art has precedence" system to a "First to patent wins" one means the anybody that has loads of ideas but no money to patent them will loose against "Big corp with loadsa money for whom the costs of filling a patent are short change".

Couple this with the ability to patent business methods (whether encoded as a software/hardware mix or not) and you'll see things like "selling ice-cream on a beach" being patented.

The real revolution would be dropping patents for business methods (software encoded or not) altogether.

The fact that BSA is for it (read: the big boys in the software world), should be ringing alarm bells in everybodies minds.

Re:More like fine-tunning (2, Interesting)

hey! (33014) | more than 7 years ago | (#18797083)

Judging from the article this does nothing to limit the "Doing something that everybody has been doing for years ... over the Internet"


Well, how do you distinguish that from an actual invention, which usually takes two or more ideas that already exist and combine them in novel ways?

The problem is equivalent to distinguishing originality from opportunity. As wireless communication becomes cheaper for example, it becomes economically feasible to do things wirelessly that were not feasible before. Eventually somebody realizes this. Somebody has to be first with this realization, but we wouldn't necessarily count that as creative. If wireless had been dirt cheap for the last fifty years, you could have a reasonably safe presumption of originality, but in an era of rapid technological advance in a field, it turns the patent process into an artificially generated land rush.

What is needed is a definition of non-obviousness -- or maybe a test of non-obviousness -- that can distinguished between opportunistic timing and originality.

Re:More like fine-tunning (2, Interesting)

Aceticon (140883) | more than 7 years ago | (#18797505)

These kind of patents are filled before it becames economically feasible to do so.

It's a bit like officially staking ownership to a piece of land on Mars and then waiting until people get there.

The thing is, in IT related areas, given the speed of technological evolution and the way too long duration of a patent, wild land grabs before the necessary technology exists are a viable business model since technology will often catch up before the patent expires.

Reduce the length of a patent on IT to 2 years and all these parasites will go away.

Beter yet, eliminate patents for business methods altogether.

At the moment, in the US, the concept of "doing something" is patentable. Instead, patents should only be awarded to "the mechanics of a solution that allows the doing of something". If somebody else comes up with a beter solution the patent doesn't cover them, but if they tune or tweak your solution they have to pay you to sell their version of the solution.

This is how you get innovation instead of stagnation.

That means that "One-click shopping" would not be patentable but "An implementation of one-click shopping" would be patentable. If your implementation is sofware then it's already covered by copyright, the only reason you would need a patent for this is if hardware was involved.

For whatever is left, the "obvious to a specialist in that field" test would provide a good test of "inovativeness". If i try and patent "A mechanism for asysnchnously sending and receiving text messages over a TCP/IP network" and you go and ask a couple of specialists in the field "How would you do a mechanism to asysnchnously sending and receiving text messages over a TCP/IP network" and one or more come up with the same mechanism as me (by the way, that would be e-mail), then that mechanism is an "obvious solution" and thus not patentable.

Re:More like fine-tunning (1)

thebdj (768618) | more than 7 years ago | (#18797239)

Or the "Get a bunch of specialists in a room and ask them 'How would you solve problem X' and then patent the solutions" approach to "innovation".
I am assuming you are going for an obviousness angle on this, and this IS NOT HOW OBVIOUSNESS WORK! I cannot say that enough. Do you not think these companies had a room of specialists to solve a problem and then work to file a patent? More than one person or one group of people might have the same idea, but that does not make it obvious and it should not make it unpatentable. The only exceptions to this are pretty minimal and usually so absurd they are not work discussing.

Not to mention that the change from a "Prior-art has precedence" system to a "First to patent wins" one means the anybody that has loads of ideas but no money to patent them will loose against "Big corp with loadsa money for whom the costs of filling a patent are short change".
Just don't buy it. I really do not see this as the problem people make it out to be. Can someone show me real stats to prove that there are even that many small inventors now?

The fact that BSA is for it (read: the big boys in the software world), should be ringing alarm bells in everybodies minds.
Look who opposes it, big pharmaceuticals and you will see this is a great idea. Most software companies want to limit the number of patents, because much of what they hold are defensive patents. The big software companies want patents to be better defined and want to limit some of the junk patents that get issued. Look at the support big software gave in the Teleflex v. KSR case. Software patents are basically in a state where they would mutually destroy each other if lawsuits started flying over patents. The people with the most to lose from their patents are big pharmaceuticals who make a killing on those drugs our doctors give us.

Yet again (1)

chuckymonkey (1059244) | more than 7 years ago | (#18796967)

Poor legislation that does nothing, is nothing, and lines more legislators pockets with corporate money.

No, you don't want this (2, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#18796997)

IF you think Patent abuse is bad now, this won't only hurt inventors, it will remove any recourse they have when they have been ripped off.

This is not reform we need, it is reform large corporations need.
Yes, the patent system needs some changes, but that is no reason to accept ANY change just for the sake of change.

What the patent needs is to remove business methods and software patents. The rest of it is pretty good, expcially compared to other countries.

Contact you legislators and tell them no, this isn't broken.

From TFA (1)

DramaGeek (806258) | more than 7 years ago | (#18797077)

Ronald Riley, president of the Professional Inventors Alliance, called large tech companies "patent pirates that pillage others' property."
Large tech companies such as IBM and Microsoft!

Woohoo! (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 7 years ago | (#18797103)

The patent system is broken in many ways.
This particular "prior art" rule, wasn't one of them.
The US patent system just got worse.

Worse than before (1)

Random BedHead Ed (602081) | more than 7 years ago | (#18797115)

This makes patent trolling far easier. It "solves" the patent problem by making any legal recourse impossible. I need to get elected dictator.

First to file (2, Insightful)

paulxnuke (624084) | more than 7 years ago | (#18797143)

So if I invent something, can't afford to pay thousands of dollars for a patent, and someone else finds out and patents it, I'm screwed? I can either keep my invention a secret and hope no one thinks of it, or let it become known and wind up paying a lawyer for the right to use it?

The new procedure for challenging validity (whatever it might be, and if it addresses such cases at all) is likely to cost even more (requires a lawyer, where it's at least theoretically possible to get a patent without one for only a few thousand in filing fees.)

Unless they also get rid of software patents (ha!) this sounds from the article like it simply hands the whole system over to the large companies, rather than the current arrangement that forces them to at least pay some legal fees to rip inventors off.

Re:First to file (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18797411)

So if I invent something, can't afford to pay thousands of dollars for a patent, and someone else finds out and patents it, I'm screwed? I can either keep my invention a secret and hope no one thinks of it, or let it become known and wind up paying a lawyer for the right to use it?

Or you publish a technical disclosure, in effect burning the bridge for ANYONE to patent it and continue using it freely relying on your ability to produce it faster/better/cheaper than the competition.

a problem (1)

WingedEarth (958581) | more than 7 years ago | (#18797153)

This could be a problem for software developers. Someone might want to develop a new system or business method and put it out in the public without claiming any monopolies, but now he'll have to worry that a competitor will copy his idea and file it with the Patent Office first. Why are we trying to be in line with other countries? Aren't we supposed to be better? Maybe they should be more like us. Congress used this being in line with other countries argument to extend the copyright term to ridiculous lengths, and now they want to also mess up our patent system with the same bogus argument. What's the matter with our leaders?

April Fools? (1)

TravisO (979545) | more than 7 years ago | (#18797157)

Looks like April 1st came late this year

first to file system (1)

PatentMagus (1083289) | more than 7 years ago | (#18797161)

We already have places where folks propose solutions to stuff and then patent what they dream up. Filing a patent app is called "constructive reduction to practice". Individuals who do this are called "patent trolls". Businesses who do this are called "businesses". go figure. This legislation won't do a whole lot to change that business model.

A first to file system keeps folks with trade secrets from challenging a patent. Currently, you can defend yourself against an infringement suit by showing that you invented first and were diligent. Invented first means before the patenter invented, not before they filed. Diligence means you kept at it and didn't go off to do something else. Also, one person can't use a different person's trade secret to defend against an infringement suit.

In the end, this cuts down on a lot of the discovery in a law suit.

BSA (4, Insightful)

BigDumbAnimal (532071) | more than 7 years ago | (#18797413)

But several tech trade groups and companies ... Business Software Alliance (BSA) -- praised the sponsors for reintroducing the updated bill.
If the BSA is for it, I'm against it. They are by definition anti-consumer and anti-business (not named Microsoft).

uh oh (2, Interesting)

Ryan Monster (767204) | more than 7 years ago | (#18797471)

Although this idea sounds great because it brings us in accordance with the rest of the patent systems in the world, there is a problem. The problem is that first to file systems, as opposed to first to invent, promote sloppy, careless filing. If you have to file first to claim your patent right, you will be inclined to broadly, generally claim your invention just so you can file it before anyone else does. It will increase the paperwork in the patent office to amend the poorly drafted original claims. That's how I see it.

Damage Caps Suck (5, Insightful)

Bob9113 (14996) | more than 7 years ago | (#18797487)

The provisions of the Patent Reform Act would... restrict damages that patent holders can receive for infringement lawsuits

Ahhh, I love that. So it's going to be enough for the big guys (who are all backing it) to kill upstart competition. But if the big guys think they can ship a lot of product, they can simply; ignore the little guy's patent, bury him in lawyers if they do get sued, and in the unlikely event that the little guy can withstand that onslaught, the most the big guy risks is one quarter's worth of profits. Excellent.

Ingenious (1)

nagora (177841) | more than 7 years ago | (#18797523)

Who said that they couldn't make the system any worse?

That takes more than a lack of intelligence or a lack of common sense, it takes a lack of that something special that sets politicians apart from the rest of us.

TWW

Why (1)

The Cisco Kid (31490) | more than 7 years ago | (#18797531)

is this a good idea? So lets say someone invents something, doesnt have the money to produce it large scale and doesnt patent it and instead publishes it and tons of people use it and impplement it individually, then ten years later some megacorp patents it, now all of a sudden those tons of people are violating this corps patent? I call bullshit. Placing something in the public domain, or actually implementing it, should trump a later 'filing' of a patent on it.

Also patents shuld be for actual inventions, never for 'ideas' or 'methods'. Unless you have a prototype in-hand *and* no one else has already done what you are doing, no patent for you.
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