Summary: US Senators are hoping to change patent law (not in the ideal way but at least progressively) while the President chants the same old pro-patents clichés
The Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy is among those who push the Patent Reform Act of 2011 (the other two are Orrin Hatch and Chuck Grassley) and the preliminary document is making the rounds right now:
Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., is circulating an amendment to the comprehensive patent reform legislation introduced Tuesday.
Schumer’s amendment would “authorize a pilot program for review of business method patents,” a relatively new patent concept that protects new ways of doing business.
This really isn’t much of a surprise, given earlier statements from both President Obama and Commerce Secretary Locke concerning patents, but it’s still a bit disappointing to see that one part of the latest administration plan to jumpstart more entrepreneurship is to make it easier for them to get patents.
Maybe the patent propaganda is just a bit of PR intended to sell the false impression of great innovation as according to a patent lawyers’ blog, Chinese academics file so many patents because: “1) it’s free and 2) they get academic credit for it.” To quote the whole thing in context:
“The reasons why you are seeing such a large increase in Chinese Patents filed by Academics is that for them 1) it’s free and 2) they get academic credit for it. Filing patents is encouraged by the Chinese Government and Academia. The Chinese Government has given Universities (as well as local companies) funds for filing patents in order to spur innovation – one measure of which is the number of patents filed by China, as a country. Also, the Chinese Universities are ranked against each other according to how many patents they’ve filed. As a result, Chinese Universities have adjusted their tenure requirements and expectations such that professors who want to advance are virtually required to file patents as well as to publish papers. In one specific University I know of, filing a patent is “worth” 3 published papers. This practice has been around for at least 2.5 years. Thus you are seeing (proportionally) a very large number of Chinese Academics filing patent applications in China.
Notice all of this relates to filing patent applications – there is no discussion above about actually getting them granted, or any other such matters.
This is also a major factor as to why there is such an amazing increase in Chinese Patent filings (in the Chinese Patent Office) in 2008-10, while filings everywhere else in the world were dropping.”
Here is some more mapping of gold mines courtesy of patent lawyers and the likes of them (including patent trolls). Here is another new example of what software patents do for patent lawyers:
Late last year MobileMedia Ideas filed law suits against RIM and Hyundai asserting infringement of its U.S. Patent No. 7,349,012 for an apparatus for compressing image data. RIM has now requested reexamination of the ‘012 patent (ex parte Request No. (18)), and may now file a motion to stay its case with MobileMedia.
What an utter waste of effort and time. Rather than make better smartphones, all the companies involved are now engaging in patent battles and the ones who win the most are patent lawyers and patent trolls. The problem with recent patent reform propositions is that they only weaken trolls and not monopolists who use patents to tax or remove competitors from the market. █