Feeds

US patent system braced for a shake-up

Still handing out daft patents, though

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

The US patent system is set for a thorough review, according to reports, with the aim of improving the quality of patents awarded, and thus reducing the number of patent lawsuits.

The New York Times says the Bush administration wants better information from applicants, and is considering opening patent applications to public scrutiny.

Both the Senate and the House have proposed legislating changes to the patent system this year as concerns mount over the quality of the system.

The review has been prompted by concerns that rather than encouraging innovation, the patent system has let in so many poor patents and become so clogged with litigation that it is now starting to hinder entrepreneurs.

(To illustrate just how so many poor quality patents might have been granted, consider this: in 2000, 72 per cent of all applications were approved. In the first quarter of 2007, after the USPTO hired 1,200 more patent examiners, this figure fell to 49 per cent).

In particular, it wants to shift much of the prior art research burden to the applicant and tighten up the legal requirements on the amount and quality of supporting information that must accompany an application.

Jon Dudas, director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, says applicants currently have a lot of discretion in how much information they provide to explain why their invention qualifies for patent protection.

At present, he says, applications are made with widely varying amounts of information, ranging from "almost nothing" to what he describes as "malicious compliance"; an overload of paperwork for patent examiners to sift through. He argues that applicants should have to do a thorough search of journals and related patents, and then justify the application in the context of decent background information.

Speaking of the higher bureaucratic hurdle applicants must now jump, Dudas says: "If everything is done right at the front end, we'll have to worry a lot less about litigation later."

Smaller, independent inventors should still be able to have the USPTO do this searching for them, he adds, noting that there is no desire to discourage or disadvantage smaller inventors.

Meanwhile, TechDirt reports that the same office has given its seal of approval to another strand of Amazon's infamous "one-click" patent. Although the original patent is up for re-examinationan, the USPTO has granted Amazon a patent on "a method and system for placing a purchase order via a communications network". This, readers will be delighted to hear, includes claims for following up an order by contacting the customer by phone or email. ®

Bridging the IT gap between rising business demands and ageing tools

More from The Register

next story
NO MORE ALL CAPS and other pleasures of Visual Studio 14
Unpicking a packed preview that breaks down ASP.NET
Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
Cheer up, Nokia fans. It can start making mobes again in 18 months
The real winner of the Nokia sale is *drumroll* ... Nokia
Put down that Oracle database patch: It could cost $23,000 per CPU
On-by-default INMEMORY tech a boon for developers ... as long as they can afford it
Another day, another Firefox: Version 31 is upon us ALREADY
Web devs, Mozilla really wants you to like this one
Google shows off new Chrome OS look
Athena springs full-grown from Chromium project's head
Apple: We'll unleash OS X Yosemite beta on the MASSES on 24 July
Starting today, regular fanbois will be guinea pigs, it tells Reg
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.