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USPTO in Doubt

Posted in Patents at 10:23 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

David Kappos

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Summary: Critics of the US patent system — and by extension other patent offices around the world — subjected to scrutiny

MR. Cuban [1, 2] recently gave money to the fight against software patents. The USPTO is aware of public backlash and it opens up to feedback:

In response to the USPTO’s call for comments on how to enhance software patent quality, Groklaw has a draft of a response to the USPTO’s Topic 1 question, on “how to improve clarity of claim boundaries that define the scope of patent protection for claims that use functional language”. We’d like your input before we finalize our comment. Do you see a way to improve it? Make it clearer and more accessible to non-programmers? Any further references you think would be useful?

Here is a new post about Cuban’s experiences with patents:

Outspoken billionaire, Mark Cuban, is fed up with America’s patent system. “Dumbass patents are crushing small businesses. I have had multiple small companies i am an investor in have to fight or pay trolls for patents that were patently ridiculous,” he says in an email to TechCrunch.

The noted investor and Dallas Mavericks owner is perhaps best known for his unfiltered tweets against clumsy NBA officials, who he believes are endangering his star athletes. Now, he’s leveraging his penchant for attention-grabbing headlines with a newly endowed chair at digital civil rights organization, The Electronic Frontier Foundation, dubbed “The Mark Cuban Chair to Eliminate Stupid Patents.”

Even Microsoft, a patent aggressor, suffers from this lawsuit from Vringo, which sued Google:

A lawsuit filed on Thursday alleges Microsoft has been infringing patents that allow internet search engines to most effectively place advertisements.

I/P Engine said in the suit filed in Manhattan federal court that Microsoft uses search technology based on inventions by two employees of I/P Engine’s parent company, Vringo.

Microsoft uses the technology in systems that generate advertisements and associated links for users of the world’s largest software company’s search engine, Bing, the lawsuit said.

Well, if one is to believe that innovation comes from patents, then the above is a wakeup call. Some critics of software patents address the misconception:

Patents, for all their flaws, are a widely used proxy for innovation. And a new study from the Brookings Institution shows just how clustered patent-related innovation is in America.

Unless innovation is restricted by geography, we may as well assume that patents are a business culture, not innovation culture. It’s time to rethink this out-of-date establishment, which used to be all about publication but is now redundant because we have the Internet and digital registries.

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