Bonum Certa Men Certa

USPTO Watch: Patent Bubbles, Patents on Life, and No Prior Art Search

How far can patents go?

Hand of life



Summary: A quick look at some news regarding the US patent system, where the quality of patents is notoriously low and patent aggression is exceedingly common

"Qualcomm’s stock drops 15% on earnings forecast," said this headline a few days ago. The reason? "Qualcomm’s shares dropped 15 percent Thursday after the San Diego wireless chipmaker lowered its profit forecast for next year because of problems collecting patent royalties in China."

When and if a company is so dependent on patents, maybe there is something wrong with the company. Qualcomm became internationally notorious for its practices with patents (we wrote a great deal about it), so this is just the latest example of patent-created bubbles.

"When and if a company is so dependent on patents, maybe there is something wrong with the company."Another new article, authored by Glyn Moody, was titled "Will Molecular Biology's Most Important Discovery In Years Be Ruined By Patents?"

Moody, a former Cambridge mathematician, already wrote a whole book on this subject. Moody's piece says that "[a]s the Boston Review rightly points out, the Broad Institute patent is problematic for several reasons. It is very general, and lays claim to using CRISPR-Cas to edit all animal and plant DNA. The Broad Institute has granted an exclusive license for therapeutic applications, which means that the company concerned has a monopoly on what is expected to be one of the most important areas for CRISPR-Cas. Any other company wanting to use the technique, even for non-therapeutic work, must pay for a license."

Sadly, even in the EPO things like these are increasingly being viewed as patentable, in defiance of the premise of the patent system. Europe could soon end up adopting all the same decisions that the US did, including those decisions which now bring patent trolls to Europe.

As one Twitter account citing Patent Buddy put it, "patent examiners are not obligated to check if an invention already exists."

"This defies logic," it rightly added, linking to this video from the Web site of the USPTO itself. Google and Dropbox, in the mean time, "plea to end patent suit ‘forum shopping’," according to patent lawyers' media. This plea "includes many of the largest US tech companies" and it is "aiming to end patent suit ‘forum shopping’ at the Eastern District of Texas."

Others large companies in this group are Adobe, ASUS, and eBay. They are evidently not happy with how things are going, especially in the Eastern District of Texas, which the EFF is trying to put an end to.

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