10.06.12

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US Congress Unhappy With Patent System, Australia Consults the Public

Posted in America, Patents at 2:44 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Reviewing the scope of patentability in some English-speaking nations

THE United States has been harbouring patent trolls under the low standards of that patent office which it facilitates. The US Congress, however, seems interested in moving away from the status quo. A study from a few weeks ago outlines options for tackling patent trolling. Here are some details: “The US Congressional Research Service has made a range of suggestions that aim to clarify the “fuzzy boundaries” of software patents and make it more difficult to abuse the patent system. The “notice function” of patents that usually demarcates a clearly defined field of intellectual property rights and provides clear information on these rights to competitors “has broken down in the IT sector”, the service said in a recently published 23-page overview of the current “patent trolls” debate. It is “economically infeasible or irrational” for defendants to search the entire field of existing patents to avoid infringement, explained the authors, adding that this puts trolls in a highly advantageous bargaining position when negotiating royalties.”

It is essential to dump software patents as their existence has been a major lifeline for patent trolls and they do not adhere to the boundaries of reasonable scope. In Australia it is under debate. The latest public consultation strives to determine what innovation patents are and Ben Sturmfels wants people to speak out against software patents, having done some campaigning in this area [1, 2]. Corporate FOSS backers have a say on this issue in the US. As Pamela Jones put it, “Patently O recently highlighted some activity in the software patent eligibility area in the case of CLS Bank v. Alice Corporation [PDF], where the Federal Circuit has once again utterly ignored the direction the US Supreme Court provided in In Re Bilski [PDF] and in Mayo v. Prometheus. Instead, it has come up with a new rule, one that throws open the doors to patentability that the higher court has been trying to narrow. CLS Bank has asked for a rehearing en banc [PDF] and Google has joined with Red Hat, HP, and Twitter to file an amicus brief [PDF] that I think you’ll find of interest, so I’ve done it as text for you.”

Twitter is no surprise in there. The USPTO is out of hand and attempts to fix it have so far been self-preserving for this rogue operation that only serves corporations, not people.

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