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06.20.11

Dreaming of a Real Patent Reform

Posted in America, Law, Patents at 8:28 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The Capitol

Primer: In a nation where algorithms and methods (abstract, no physical equivalent) become proprietary ‘assets’ a reform must arrive to restore competition and innovation

THE US patent system was recently ridiculed for encouraging patents so poor that someone seeking a patent monopoly on his “Godly” powers justified it by pointing to software and business method patents, to paraphrase the headline from Techdirt. We actually wrote about it last week when it was not clear whether it was a prank. Last week we also noted that the USPTO or associated legislator claimed that they sought changes to the system, but as we state repeatedly, no real reform is even being proposed. The thing they call "reform" is just “wolf in sheep’s clothing,” to reuse the term from this one opinion on the HR 1249 Patent Reform Bill. There is no real reform in the making and it is only getting worse as more and more patent trolls plant their flag somewhere in a practicing industry, usually the software industry (a lot of patent trolls do favour and focus on software patents, based on recent statistics).

On the subject of business methods and associated patents there is this new report in the New York Times. This is closely related to the subject of software patents because both types of patents are ludicrous for similar (not identical) reasons. Read this:

Banks Turn to Schumer on Patents

For years and much to their frustration, big banks have paid hundreds of millions of dollars to a tiny Texas company to use a patented system for processing digital copies of checks, making Claudio Ballard, the inventor of the system, a wealthy man and the bank industry’s biggest patent foe.

[...]

But DataTreasury and Mr. Ballard have fought back. They have hired their own Washington lobbyist, financed in part by the $400 million in settlements, jury verdicts and royalties earned in recent years.

In an interview, Mr. Ballard said the banks’ argument that they had embarked on electronic check processing — the process covered by his patents — long before his patents were issued is simply wordplay.

Patently-O, a maximalist of the patent system says that “[w]ell known patent attorney Hal Milton recently published a new article in John Marshall’s Review of Intellectual Property Law (RIPL) that argues for the presentation of a “new result” within every patent application. The majority of newly drafted patent applications do not follow Milton’s approach and instead seem to obscure the innovative elements of the claimed invention and fail to identify the problem being solved by the invention.” Need we have more evidence that patents do not promote innovation? We have gathered a lot over the years. Patents cost each and every one of us a lot of money while mostly benefiting lawyers and billionaires who are defended by them.

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