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10.21.18

MIT and the Prior Art Archive Perpetuate Existing Problems

Posted in America, Apple, GNU/Linux, Google, IBM, Microsoft, OIN, Patents at 11:37 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

There’s a reason why similar initiatives perished in the past

Strata Center MIT
Strata Center MIT

Summary: Large companies with many tens of thousands of patents (each) would have us believe that broadening access/reach of prior art (e.g. to patent examiners) would solve the issues; This may very well work for these large companies, but it overlooks the broader picture

COMPANIES like Apple, Microsoft and IBM — large companies that cross-license among themselves — don’t fear the USPTO or even patents in general (not even the EPO where they have a lot patents of their own). The patent system has, with few exceptions, served them well. It protects them. It’s a form of protectionism.

20 years after its foundation Google has already joined this ‘club’; instead of reforming things Google is adapting and so does Red Hat. To companies like these, which use GNU/Linux extensively, OIN and the likes of it represent a solution. Google backs LOT Network, which is similar.

Recently, together with a bunch of other large companies (Cisco, Dell, Intel, AT&T, Amazon, Microsoft, and Salesforce are named below), Google pushed the “Prior Art Archive”; MIT’s self-promotional new piece about it gives a rather foggy idea; it even quotes MIT staff and no critics/sceptics. It doesn't help much when they focus on prior art rather than patent scope and obviousness (among other things). To quote MIT’s own site:

Two years later, a company applies for a patent on your invention. Once the application is granted, the company not only begins profiting from your device, but launches a lawsuit against you, the inventor, for infringing their patent.

This is the danger faced by researchers and developers alike, because the limits of existing content repositories means it is often a struggle for patent examiners to find what they call prior art — evidence that an invention is already known — relating to an application. That means that some applications that should be rejected are wrongly approved.

[...]

Cisco has already uploaded 165,000 documents into the archive, and a number of companies have committed to take part in the initiative, including Dell, Intel, AT&T, Amazon, Microsoft, and Salesforce. Google has also assisted the project with classification technology that will be used in the system.

As we explained earlier this month, this serves to distract from other efforts and put examination efforts in the hands of the public, essentially outsourcing or crowdsourcing the work (for corporate gain). When examiners use the archive they may get a false sense of search exhausion.

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