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* Ronald Bourret <firstname.lastname@example.org> [2005-06-06 02:16]:
> Michael Champion wrote:
> >On 6/5/05, M. David Peterson <email@example.com> wrote:
> >>I doubt any official or non official comment could (or should) be made
> >>by an MS blue badge
> > It's quite true that IBM gets a very big chunk of money from
> >licensing its IP portfolio (1-2 billion $ per year?) and the other big
> >companies wish they could as well. All major software companies AFAIK
> > encourage their employees to submit patent applications when they
> >come up with what appears to be a novel, non-obvious, and useful
> >technique. Whether these are actually patentable is the USPTO's
> >business to determine. If the patent in question is indeed bogus,
> >look to the USPTO's incompetence, not some evil plotting, for the
> >source of the problem.
> For what it's worth, my disgust here is primarily with the USPTO,
> which doesn't seem to have the expertise, wherewithall, or
> inclination to determine prior art or obviousness for software
> patents. (Goodness only knows how obviousness is defined. What's
> obvious to one person is magic to another.)
You're right. Obviousness is difficult to argue.
> As Michael points out, this presents the software community with a
> pretty nasty Catch-22. If they don't patent, they expose
> themselves to risk. If they do patent, they expose everybody else.
Hello, everbody. I'd like to take part in this conversation. It
is an issue that causes me concern, and I don't often find it
discussed by such level heads...
I've often thought of the USPTO as more of a licensing bureau,
less a peer review body. Patent's are like fishing licenses.
Like a fishing license. You don't have to qualify for a
fishing license, but you can't catch fish without one, and if
your caught catching over limit, they take your license away.
My take has been that the USPTO will filter out that which is
blidingly obvious, or was clearly invented by the Romans.
I found an interesting article, however, that I'm currently
reading. An interview with Todd Dickinson from 2000 who was then
the director of the USPTO. In this page he describes a group
within the USPTO that reviews applications:
"About five years ago, because of an increase in the number of
the [software patent] applications, which is now rather
substantial, we had created a group - a special art unit
called 705. Group 705 now has 40 or 45 examiners. We will
probably increase that number. All of those examiners that
have come to our office either have computer science
degrees, advanced degrees, or electrical engineering
I was going to make the point that it would be an extraordinary
organization that could deterine the novelty and obviousness of
any idea or process in any scientific endeavour or business. And
that the USPTO would politicize itself if it were to make more
than a cursory examination, but they approve 67 percent of their
appliations, meaning the reject 33 percent.
They do make a determination, they do make an effort to review
the claims, but I still feel that they must err on the side of
caution. Mr.Dickinson goes on to say that of the 161,000 patents
issued in 1999 only 600 were reviewed by Mr. Dickinson's Group
705, so one must assume that the some patents made it though
without the benefit of this special team of examiners.
Which is to say, I think the notion of a federal bueracracy as a
scentific review board is a flawed concept, and that it is hard
for me to see the incompetence of the USPTO as the core of the
Think of the other half of the United States Patent and
Trademark Office, Trademark. When you register a trademark, the
USPTO looks in their books to see if someone else is using the
same trademark in your industry.
They make a determination as to whehter your use of the
trademark would confuse the public. If not, they issue the
trademark. Such a decision is much easier to make, since the
factors invovled do not vary greatly from trademark to
trademark. A resonable set of standards can be established.
To make a determination about the novelty and obscurity of an
invention, idea, process is far more difficult. It doesn't
surpise me that the USPTO sends through patents that shock those
that live and breath the industy they affect.
Alan Gutierrez - firstname.lastname@example.org