Bonum Certa Men Certa

USPTO Under Iancu: Making Patents Low Quality (Again)

What they mean by "great" is the number (quantity), not the quality

Make Patents Great Again



Summary: Patents of questionable legitimacy are being granted, passed around, and used for litigation; the net effect may be financially beneficial to the lawsuits 'industry', but taxpayers and science suffer the most

THE USPTO has descended or deteriorated into "law firm" mentality. The goal is money and the Director comes from a firm that judges its "success" by number of lawsuits, patents etc. Why was such leadership appointment by Trump? Maybe past business relations, maybe something even more nefarious than this.



To demonstrate the psyche of the people who now "run the asylum" (to use a crude metaphor), consider this new post which shows how patent law firms view everything. "In order to increase utilization of patents," it says. Like what, lawsuits? They love patent wars, they provoke fights and lawsuits. It's how they make a living. To quote a broader context:

In order to increase utilization of patents, there seems to be a need for development of such new applications. Actually, Xinova has issued the Request for Application (RFA) to identify new applications for an existing technology of its customer in November 2017. I’m wondering if universities may also need such an service to explore possible applications for their technology seeds. Anyway, it would be necessary to study how to valuate such ideas of new applications and how to reward the inventors, especially when working with outside persons.


They don't care about inventors, let alone rewarding anyone but themselves (with legal bills).

A Republican pundit has meanwhile written for Watchtroll about Federal, i.e. taxpayers-funded, work being passed to patent trolls owing to the Bayh-Dole lunacy. Yes, only a few days ago Watchtroll promoted more of this lunacy, merely a few days after we had explained why this is morally wrong. "Much of the research and development done by NASA has broader applications than space and have been used in many everyday commercial products," Above the Law summarised. This is an example where taxpayers' money was invested in patenting decent ideas that the general public can use to make life better. Bayh-Dole, however, turned over such patents to trolls. The trolls sue taxpayers using patents acquired at the expense of those taxpayers. Speaking of taxes, there's a new article titled "New 2019 French Patent/Software box regime" by Bird & Bird (Brent Springael, Laurence Clot and Coralie Crespin). Bird & Bird of Team UPC infamy (the patent trolls' proponents) are now advocating tax evasion using patenting/accounting tricks. Isn't that lovely?

But even worse issues persist at the moment. As always, we're primarily focused on patent scope. According to Donald Zuhn, a proponent of patents on life, the USPTO has changed its Web site (perhaps to help distract from over a week of systems' downtime; that would be a neat spin/diversion attempt) and it has "extended [...] limited amount of non-production time -- three hours for utility and reissue applications -- to consider responses filed following a final rejection."

Here are the key parts:

In a Patent Alert e-mail distributed earlier this month, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office announced that the After-Final Consideration Pilot 2.0 (AFCP 2.0) program has been extended to September 30, 2019.

The AFCP, which was implemented in April 2012 (see "USPTO to Assess After Final Consideration Pilot Program"), modified in May 2013 (see "USPTO News Briefs"), and extended since then provides examiners with a limited amount of non-production time -- three hours for utility and reissue applications -- to consider responses filed following a final rejection.


To be fair, this didn't start with Iancu, but one has to wonder about the impact on patent quality. Over the past week we've seen some questionable Google patents and the Office has apparently just granted fake (bogus) software patents to Skillz. "Skillz," they speaks of themselves, "the worldwide leader in mobile eSports, announced today that the United States Patent and Trademark Office has issued the company two new patents. The company now has exclusive rights to a total of 13 eSports-related patents."

They say that the "latest patent from Skillz, however, is the first to provide such a feature for mobile games" and they allude to something which is software, abstract. In a rather pragmatic sense, software patents no longer have validity. Here is another example of such patents. How about this new one? It sounds like GrowPath received bogus/fake software patents from the Office (not before Alice/Section 101/AIA as it seems a lot newer, post-ten million). To quote:

GrowPath, a software firm born out of the privacy-obsessed legal industry, has developed and now patented a personalized solution that utilizes an owner’s personal photos as the second step in a two-factor authentication process on mobile devices.

[...]

The new patent (#10,097,538) is the third for GrowPath. The company’s other patents focus on data obfuscation (cyber) and a logic tool which facilitates, among other things, the ability to easily customize algorithms without advanced science or mathematics training.

The new patent also means more tattoos for inventor Sanchez. A former Marine, Growpath’s chief product officer notches all of his patent numbers on his right forearm. With the latest addition, his count is now three. “Software is a crowded field, but the one sure way to distinguish yourself and your business is to truly innovate,” Sanchez explains. “I can’t think of a more personal way to show my pride in that innovation than to wear the patents on my body.” Images capturing Sanchez’s ever-expanding roster of patent tattoos are here and the video is here.


They actually tattoo patent numbers, embedding them deep insode their skin. There are photos there, too. How much more insane can it get?

We've also noticed this press release [1, 2] that speaks of "[t]he first patent entitled “System and Method for Consolidating Account Data” Canadian Patent No. 2821002 recognized the Canadian patent protection for Qvinci’s original invention as improved. The second Canadian patent entitled “Methods and Apparatus for Providing Data Normalization, Scalability and Maintainability” Canadian Patent No. 2829665 recognized Canadian patent protection for Qvinci’s normalizer application."

This isn't a US patent; it's in Canada. Nevertheless, one must bear in mind that the Canadian patent office usually follows the US.

As we noted here before, the USPTO keeps granting abstract software patents provided people surf hype waves like blockchain (yes, it's software patents -- all of them). Here is a brand-new example: "Nasdaq, the $10 trillion dollar stock exchange, has patented a blockchain newswire service. Filed in January 2017, the patent is titled “Systems and methods for securing and disseminating time-sensitive information using a blockchain.” The patent was released to the public earlier this week."

Nasdaq is already involved in some court battles with software patents. PTAB might invalidate these. If not PTAB, then maybe the higher court/s. Such litigation activity helps nobody but law firms and days ago we learned that Immervision is suing LG. They issued a press release about it and it certainly seems as though AP had been reduced to pay-to-say of patent trolls or opportunistic parasites when they sue real companies.

Ultimately, a lot of resources go into unproductive activities. The Office doesn't seem to care.

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