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You are likely close to the mark. I heard a radio
program yesterday that said the patent office received
over 2000 applications every morning.
But this patent is really well over the obvious mark.
Maybe MS is making a point to the USPTO by demonstration. ;-'
I think you meant to say, there is nothing but a
moral hazard, in other words, no downside except
publicity, and a serious upside if granted.
That isn't quite true.
One can lose these battles on very minor quibbles.
See the recent announcement for Intel vs Intergraph.
Even legitimate patents are very expensive to defend
if someone with deeper pockets decides to fight them.
The game favors the deep pockets of the BigCos and
they know it. I deeply fear that as a political
subject, it will become another third rail of politics:
touch it and die. That coupled to outsourcing will
make resistance in some emerging economies futile.
I wonder how the software industry will
feel if tough regulations are applied to their
behavior, regulations that cut across proprietary
and open source, recognize that software value is
going to zero, force provisions on quality,
safety, costs, partnership agreements, and
on the self-selected consortia that gut international standards
to create wholly owned and controlled specifications
but with every specification, gut the rights of
the companies to make claims against any patents
in order to work in the processes that have
abducted the normal international standards processes?
IOW, what about regulations that turn
the turtle over on its back to expose
the soft underbelly of the software industry
and cut in EVERY direction? Not going to
Probably not but consider this: American justice
may be the best that money can buy but its
not the cheapest. For that reason, the cost
of obtaining the patent is trivial compared to other
costs and that is why it is often better to
patent in other countries.
From: David Megginson [mailto:email@example.com]
It seems unlikely that the staff at the USPTO can do more than give each
application a cursory glance and make sure that all the required fields are
filled in; it's up to the courts to figure out what the truth might be.
The problem right now is that there is a moral hazard to filing a bogus
patent claim: you don't face any serious consequences if you lose, so why
not take a chance? In many ways, it's exactly analogous to spamming. If a
company could stand to lose millions (or more) because of a irresponsible
patent, the system might work a little better.