EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

12.12.14

The USPTO is Broken: New Evidence Presented

Posted in America, Patents at 7:32 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Profit conflated with innovation

Summary: The scope of patents, as evidenced by some statistical figures and individual patents, shows that the USPTO is broken and must be reformed or dismantled

Kevin Drum from Mother Jones is a very good writer who covers a broad range of topics. Several weeks ago he wrote about patents, noting that “More Patents Does Not Equal More Innovation”. Well, more patents mean more business for the USPTO and patent lawyers, but they would rather just paint their profit as “innovation”. Here is what Mr. Drum writes, citing the corporate media:

Via James Pethokoukis, here’s a chart from a new CBO report on federal policies and innovation. Needless to say, you can’t read too much into it. It shows the growth since 1963 of total factor productivity (roughly speaking, the share of productivity growth due to technology improvements), and there are lots of possible reasons that TFP hasn’t changed much over the past five decades. At a minimum, though, the fact that patent activity has skyrocketed since 1983 with no associated growth in TFP suggests, as the CBO report says dryly, “that the large increase in patenting activity since 1983 may have made little contribution to innovation.”

We recently showed that almost every application for a patent is now successful, i.e. patent granted (proving that there no quality control at all and demonstrating laziness or greed, motivated by wrong yardsticks by which to assess patent examiners). This whole system has become a sham and people should do something about it, as the problem won’t go away on its own.

“This whole system has become a sham and people should do something about it, as the problem won’t go away on its own.”Might we ever see USPTO staff demonstrating in the streets of Washington, following the example set by EPO staff? The problem and the grievances (about scope and corruption) are similar.

The other week we saw the EFF highlighting yet another “Stupid Patent of the Month”. It is a software patent which is basically something that a child can come up with, or even an observer of what has been going on for centuries. To put it in the words of Ars Technica:

November’s “Stupid Patent of the Month,” brought to you by Penn State

Three months ago, the Electronic Frontier Foundation inaugurated a monthly tradition in which they wrote about a “Stupid Patent of the Month.” The first patent they publicized was basically a description of a doctor’s “computer-secretary.” Since then, they’ve highlighted a vague software patent owned by a serial litigant, a patent on filming a yoga class, and a patent with a formula for curing cancer (a combination of “sesame seeds, green beans, coffee, meat, evening primrose seeds,” among other things.)

Here is the latest:

One of the items for sale is US Patent No. 8,442,839, entitled “Agent-based collaborative recognition-primed decision-making.” The lead inventors are PSU professors John Yen and Michael McNeese. The patent essentially describes different ways that people work together to solve a problem.

Steps include “receiving information regarding a current situation to be analyzed,” interacting to receive “assistance in the form of assumptions or expectancies about the situation,” and using “collected information to determine whether a decision about the situation is evolving in an anticipated direction.” A PSU news site describes the invention as using a framework called “Collaborative Agents for Simulating Teamwork.”

“The patent reads a little like what might result if you ate a dictionary filled with buzzwords and drank a bottle of tequila,” writes EFF lawyer Daniel Nazer. He notes the patent was originally rejected by the patent office. “Penn State responded by amending its claim to ‘include a team-oriented computer architecture that transforms subject matter.’ In other words, it took an abstract patent and said, ‘Do it on a computer.’”

A lot of software patents are like that. They merely add “over the Internet” or “on a computer” to some process that has existed for a very long time. There’s no innovation in it, except perhaps the innovation which is the Internet or the computer itself.

Anyone who still thinks that the patent system promotes innovation should take a look at a patent or two, setting aside the jargon and buzzwords. We covered other examples in the past and examined their lack of novelty. Some examples came from Nintendo and there is this new example where Nintendo patents something using the “in mobile devices” pseudo ‘novelty’. To quote AOL:

A new patent published by the USPTO yesterday details an invention by Nintendo that would allow it to emulate its mobile game consoles, including the Game Boy line of devices specifically, in other settings, including on seat-back displays in airplanes and trains, and on mobile devices including cell phones. The patent is an updated take on an older piece of IP, so it’s not an entirely new idea, but it’s still very interesting to consider that Nintendo could have renewed interest in the idea of running its own back catalogue on many different kinds of screens.

It is not an entirely new idea at all. In-flight entertainment, emulation and mobile devices are very old ideas and just combining them should not be enough to earn a patent. Then again, as USPTO eventually accepts (grants patents for) 92% of all applications, it seems to have become an illegitimate system of protectionism that puts the burden on innocence on victims, passes a lot of incentive to patent lawyers, and has small companies foot the legal bills.

Share in other sites/networks: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Reddit
  • email
  • Slashdot

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

What Else is New


  1. Links 9/8/2020: Popcorn Computers Pocket PC and New Interview With Richard Stallman

    Links for the day



  2. Education and Free Software

    "If students learn how to code, they'll be able to figure out the applications."



  3. Features Considered Harmful (Revised)

    "But the benefits of Free software, free candy and new features are all meaningless, if the user isn't in control."



  4. If We Weren't Silencing Founders, Critics and People We Just Don't Like

    In the long run, history is rarely very kind to tyrants, especially the ones who did little more than lie to people and demand things that served no real purpose."



  5. I Would Have Supported the Coup (Under Very Different Circumstances)

    Richard Stallman's (rms) ordeals are showing us how not to deal with a founder; this is how power transition could be done instead, according to figosdev



  6. It Looks Like Red Hat's (IBM) Fedora Project May be 'Outsourced' to Amazon's Datacentres

    In "seeking a more modern and cost effective location" for Fedora Infrastructure it seems to have been decided, privately, that Amazon (AWS) would be the new home of this project; but there's sufficient obfuscation surrounding the matter and many people seem to be totally unaware



  7. IRC Proceedings: Saturday, August 08, 2020

    IRC logs for Saturday, August 08, 2020



  8. Fearmongering Was Originally an IBM Thing, Not a Microsoft Thing

    Microsoft made FUD famous, but it was actually IBM’s practice that made it commonplace in the first place (the term or acronym was coined before Microsoft even mattered and on the same year Microsoft was founded)



  9. [Meme] People Get Fired for Being Bought by IBM (With a Crummy Severance Package)

    IBM used to proudly provide job security and one could have a job there for decades (career ladders and worker benefits of all sorts are what some people assess this when looking for an employer, e.g. whether they can progress, get promoted, stay onboard); by today’s standards only a month’s salary is exceptionally bad, especially when one gets fired without warning, but this is what IBM did to some Red Hat employees



  10. New FSF Video Makes the Case Against Microsoft GitHub (and Similar), So Why is the FSF's Board Being Filled Up With Active GitHub Users?

    The FSF makes a good point about “important values like autonomy, sharing, social responsibility, and collaboration” — the very things that are under attack by Microsoft’s GitHub, which is all about coercion and monopolistic control over developers



  11. Techrights is Not Against Microsoft

    It may be a suitable time to explain why Microsoft is mentioned so much and why it's not a fixation but a reactionary priority



  12. The THRIVE Guidelines

    "Nobody is perfect, and it's obvious that people already hold some to a more unreasonable interpretation of their standards than others."



  13. Links 8/8/2020: Mageia 8 Hits Beta and FSF Has New Video

    Links for the day



  14. [Meme/History] OpenPOWER or Just White POWER?

    Antiwar and anti-nukes activists cannot support those causes and support IBM at the same time, as the founder’s son (father received a medal from the Nazi Party) flew “an American heavy bomber” and enjoyed a track record of nepotism, propelling him to the top both in the military and at IBM



  15. Rebuilding Communities

    "First, we should talk about how our communities have regressed."



  16. [Meme] Microsoft in 2020: Liaising With Criminals to Make Crime the New Normal

    As the TikTok situation serves to show, Microsoft is little but a criminal cult that relies on other criminals to do Microsoft's biddings



  17. The Computer Anybody Can Edit

    "Without rebuilding and recompiling all of the packages on a large distribution, it is possible to "remaster" an ISO and get a different system -- even before you install it."



  18. Former Microsoft Employee on So-called 'Journalists' Being Blackmailed by Microsoft

    Mitchel Lewis, a former Microsoft employee, remarks on Mary Jo Foley being 'punished' by Microsoft for not mindlessly publishing Microsoft propaganda (we remarked on this before as she had spoken to me about this over a decade ago)



  19. IRC Proceedings: Friday, August 07, 2020

    IRC logs for Friday, August 07, 2020



  20. For the Want of a Pixel

    "It is still possible to win, but the FSF has practically left the field."



  21. Ubuntu and Fedora Project Serving Microsoft

    The Ubuntu 'community' as well as the 'community' component of Red Hat (IBM) don't view Microsoft as a rival; over a decade ago Mark Shuttleworth accused Microsoft of "extortion" and "racketeering" (his words), but now he's paid to change his tune



  22. (Don't Let's) Throw Caution to the Wind

    "As it will become crucial to explain, the effect of all this dancing around truth and reality was to transform a volunteer force primed to bring freedom to users into cheap labour for an industry that exploits everyone in it -- all the way to the very top of Open Source itself."



  23. Links 7/8/2020: Mesa 20.2 RC, Radeon Software for Linux 20.30

    Links for the day



  24. Computing Fundamentals

    "A graphical interface is better, for some things -- sometimes. But it will also put a lot more on our plates."



  25. IBM and the Bomb: Series Index (on 75th Anniversary of Atomic Bombs Being Dropped on Civilians)

    Today seems an apt time to remind readers that IBM participated in the creation of the only bombs ever to be dropped in a war (not tests) and this tradition carries on because IBM is still profiting from it, to this very day (countless billions made by IBM during the Cold War too)



  26. Freedom is Personal

    "Before I say anything else, note that there are literally hundreds of GNU/Linux distros, and I put in a lot of work to rate which were the least encumbered by corporate politics — directly or indirectly."



  27. Links 7/8/2020: Ubuntu 20.04.1 LTS and GNU C Library 2.32 Released

    Links for the day



  28. IRC Proceedings: Thursday, August 06, 2020

    IRC logs for Thursday, August 06, 2020



  29. Our Collective Privacy is Under Unprecedented Attacks and Privacy is Now Conflated With Bad Hygiene, Not Just Criminality

    At warp speed the "War on cash" or "War on anonymous transactions" is moving ahead; now that COVID-19 infects a lot of people we're led to assume that mass surveillance saves lives not because of counter-terrorism but because of contact-tracing or whatever (in practice it's hardly effective, but it's conditioning people to give up any remnants of their privacy)



  30. The Psychology of Developers

    "It turns out, there are ways around a free license -- you can make software "less free" or more imposing, without changing the license at all."


RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

Recent Posts