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New USPTO Director to Be Appointed, Bad News for Freedom

Posted in America, IBM, Microsoft, Patents at 2:46 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

USPTOSummary: IBM person may be put in charge of an office that grants monopolies on algorithms

It’s almost official now. David Kappos, whom we previously mentioned in [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6], may become the director of a Free software-hostile establishment, the USPTO. Kappos comes from IBM and here is a reference page from the USPTO’s newly-redesigned Web site:

President Barack Obama on Thursday announced his intent to nominate David Kappos, an experienced patent professional with more than 20 years of experience, as the new Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the U.S Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

IBM may be no foe of Free software, but it is no foe of software patents either, so there is a big conflict here and it proves problematic. TechDirt has the following new information:

theodp writes “The next time IBM CEO Samuel J. Palmisano is late for a big meeting and can’t be reached via his BlackBerry, the other attendees will thankfully have a patent-pending way of finding him. In its just-disclosed patent application for a Method for Exploitation of Location Proximity to Derive a Location of an Employee in a Corporation, Big Blue describes an ‘invention’ of two of its PhDs that could be used to track Palmisano down – call or IM those who sit near Sam’s office and ask if they’ve seen him. By the way, IBM VP David Kappos, who recently lamented the diminished quality of patents in the US, is a frontrunner to be the next Director of the USPTO – perhaps he could comment on the patent-worthiness of this invention.”

FFII’s president says that the “USPTO President [is] recruiting unpaid examiners.” Putting it differently, he claims that “The Peer to Patent project aims to recruit unpaid examiners to legitim[ise] software patents and business method patents.” According to the FFII’s Web site, “Peer-to-Patent” is essentially a pursuit for free labour. In a way, “Linux Defenders” is similar, but Groklaw seems fond of the concept. Maybe it’s better than nothing.

The core of the quality problem was already addressed by Tim O’Reilly and Jeff Bezos with their BountyQuest venture. The reason it failed is the basis for the FFII’s examination reform proposal.

In BountyQuest the examination fee was not paid by the polluter but by volunteering victims. It requires that one victim stands up and pays up on behalf of the public. All the other victims benefit as free-riders.

The FFII proposal shows how the incentives would need to be set straight if “peer2patent” examination is to work:

Privatize Examination, Make Bad Patenters Pay

The system of obligatory patent examination should be replaced by a system where patents are registered free of charge on the Internet, and examination is performed by private parties who, when they find an invalid patent claim, are entitled to charge an examination fee from the patentee

The European Patent Office has taken interest in the Gauss project and is preparing to build a similar wiki-based system.

Here is another new post: “The next USPTO Director & the Peer-to-Patent experiment”

Obama has chosen Patent Attorney David Kappos to be the next Undersecretary Of Commerce For Intellectual Property And Director Of The U.S. Patent And Trademark Office (USPTO). Here is an article related to a US-National Public Radio interview with Kappos (http://cairns.typepad.com/peertopatent/2007/08/david-kappos-on.html) that gives a good introduction as to why we should be excited.

People seem overly excited about this whole Peer-to-Patent scheme, but “The Peer to Patent project is sponsored by patent trolls such as Intellectual Ventures and Microsoft,” warns FFII’s president.

“Patent Troll Intellectual Ventures [will be] lobbying WIPO next 13 July in Geneva,” according to this [PDF]. It did not escape the attention of the FFII. Microsoft’s very own patent troll joins this debate having cooked a ‘study’ that defends the practice of patent hoarding and trolling.

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