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04.09.13

USPTO is Out of Control and Needs to be Rebooted (or Booted Out)

Posted in Patents at 10:25 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

David Kappos

Summary: More stories about the US patent system granting monopolies on too broad a range of ideas

The patent boosters say that Twitter, which promised not to sue with patents, claims to have ‘invented’ tweeting. Maybe it’s just not aware of syndication and SMS, which predate Twitter. To quote the patent boosters:

Now those of you who know me and have read my posts in the past, know that I am not a patent attorney myself (although I am married to one who is rather well known). Rather, I am a social media strategist — sometimes called The Social Media Diva™ — who uses Twitter and other social media platforms to assist my clients in their online marketing strategies. Quite frequently we will feature posts that analyze the technologies of an issued patent from the IP attorney perspective. We thought it would be fun for me to analyze this patent from a non-attorney standpoint as it pertains to social media platforms as a whole.

Rather than promising not to sue, as we said last year, Twitter could just refuse to patent. This is of no use against trolls anyway.

Rackspace, which is fighting patent trolls these days, is getting a hand from some lawyers who search for prior art along with geeks in Groklaw:

Rackspace is going after a troll, Parallel Iron and its “agent”, IP Navigation (or IPNav), bringing a declaratory judgment of noninfringement action against Parallel Iron, because it owns the patents and is asserting them against the Open Source Hadoop distributed file system ( Parallel’s patents being on storage-area-network and network-attached-storage equipment) and a breach of contract action against both. Since Rackspace says, as the H Online reports, one goal is “to highlight the tactics that IP Nav uses to divert hard-earned profits and precious capital from American businesses”, I thought we could pitch in and spread the word.

Why are those patents granted in the first place? Quite simply, the USPTO decided to give up on quality assessment and now it just grants almost everything. It’s the guilty until proven innocent mentality. Here is new analysis from Ars, citing a study of the backlog:

When David Kappos announced his resignation as head of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) late last year, one of his most touted accomplishments was a significant reduction in the backlog of pending patent applications. Kappos’s fans have attributed this to the hiring of hundreds of additional patent examiners.

But a new study suggests another explanation for the declining backlog: the patent office may have lowered its standards, approving many patents that would have been (and in some cases, had been) rejected under the administration of George W. Bush. The authors—Chris Cotropia and Cecil Quillen of the University of Richmond and independent researcher Ogden Webster—used Freedom of Information Act requests to obtain detailed data about the fate of patent applications considered by the USPTO since 1996.

Watch what the USPTO has been causing. As covered by Ars as well:

Starting late last year, hundreds of US businesses began to receive demand letters from secretive patent-holding companies with six-letter gibberish names: AdzPro, GosNel, and JitNom. The letters state that using basic office equipment, like scanners that can send files to e-mail, infringes a series of patents owned by MPHJ Technologies. Unless the target companies make payments—which start at around $9,000 for the smallest targeted businesses but go up from there—they could face legal action.

The USPTO should be slammed for enabling extortion by granting a government-endorsed monopoly (privatisation) on scanning. Rather than slamming the trolls we should target the system which enables those trolls and call for its reform or complete demise. There is a coup going on against creativity, innovation, and freedom of thought. We need to defend ourselves from this corporate coup which passes fees from customers to some billionaires at the top (patent hoarders like Intellectual Ventures).

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