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06.01.13

More Government Targeting of Patent Trolls, Not Patent Scope

Posted in Patents at 8:02 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Rep. Peter DeFazio could do better

Peter DeFazio

Summary: Corporate ‘reform’ rather than a meaningful reform is being pursued by yet more US politicians who are funded by corporations

A new article by Mike Masnick notes that more politicians are floating misguided bills to allegedly fix the US patent issue, usually by focusing on patent holders rather than patent scope [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]. Masnick starts by saying: “Another day, another proposal for patent reform in Congress, once again targeting patent trolls (in part). Already this year, we’ve seen Rep. DeFazio push for fee shifting to make trolls pay legal expenses for bogus lawsuits, Rep. Deutch introduce a bill to force patent trolls to stop hiding anonymously behind shell companies, Senator Schumer seek to make it easier to quickly dump bad patents and Senator Cornyn put a bunch of these ideas together in a bigger anti-troll bill. Most of these have been introduced in the last month or so. We can now add a new proposal from Rep. Bob Goodlatte, head of the House Judiciary Committee, who has released a patent “discussion draft” that includes a number of issues it’s trying to fix.”

“Another day, another proposal for patent reform in Congress, once again targeting patent trolls (in part).”
      –Mike Masnick
Further down it says: “The bad news is that the existing proposals could go much, much further, and don’t. There’s nothing like an independent invention defense (or independent development as evidence of obviousness), or any effort to seek out peer review of patent proposals — both of which would cut down on many bad patent trolling shakedowns. Furthermore, having watched the messy debate over the America Invents Act, which went on for about seven years (possibly more, depending on how you count), we saw some good ideas in initial drafts watered down more and more year after year, until the final AIA was effectively useless. If we’re already starting with relatively weak proposals, once they go through the ringer and the pharmaceutical companies (mainly) strip out the parts they don’t like, we may be in for another toothless bill. Hopefully, this is a sequel with a twist ending, and something real and effective can actually become law.”

As one whom I chat with about the patent problem put it: “The fact that the Government is standing up and taking notice of the problem of patent trolls and their patent trolling ways can’t ever be considered a bad thing, but we have to remember that it was, in fact, a government agency (hello, USPTO) that started this whole racket in the first place by issuing poor patents, among other missteps. So to go back to that watering hole and expect a solid solution is just…well, kinda dumb.”

“If large companies like IBM and Microsoft wanted to end software patents, these would be over almost immediately.”The problem is, in my humble opinion, that politicians are out there to serve their sponsors, namely big corporations. We all know that large companies hate patent trolls*, so these distracting so-called ‘reforms’ are only to be expected.

If large companies like IBM and Microsoft wanted to end software patents, these would be over almost immediately. They would pay the right people to rewrite the law, even by proxy (groups like Association for ‘Competitive’ Technology). Speaking of proxies, John Cargile promotes the idea of “commercial open source” (all FOSS can be used commercially), but we know his boss is from Microsoft.
___
* Patent trolls are small players which do something similar to the large conglomerates with their patent pools and cross-licensing, value-inflating conspiracies. Think Madoff vs. Goldman Sachs for an analogy — same Ponzi schemes/crimes, different scale. One gets jail, another gets bailout from injured/victimised taxpayers. Welcome to politics!

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