Feeds

US patent system braced for a shake-up

Still handing out daft patents, though

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

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. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Android engineer: We DIDN'T copy Apple OR follow Samsung's orders
Veep testifies for Samsung during Apple patent trial
This time it's 'Personal': new Office 365 sub covers just two devices
Redmond also brings Office into Google's back yard
Batten down the hatches, Ubuntu 14.04 LTS due in TWO DAYS
Admins dab straining server brows in advance of Trusty Tahr's long-term support landing
Microsoft lobs pre-release Windows Phone 8.1 at devs who dare
App makers can load it before anyone else, but if they do they're stuck with it
Half of Twitter's 'active users' are SILENT STALKERS
Nearly 50% have NEVER tweeted a word
Internet-of-stuff startup dumps NoSQL for ... SQL?
NoSQL taste great at first but lacks proper nutrients, says startup cloud whiz
Windows 8.1, which you probably haven't upgraded to yet, ALREADY OBSOLETE
Pre-Update versions of new Windows version will no longer support patches
Microsoft TIER SMEAR changes app prices whether devs ask or not
Some go up, some go down, Redmond goes silent
Red Hat to ship RHEL 7 release candidate with a taste of container tech
Grab 'near-final' version of next Enterprise Linux next week
Ditch the sync, paddle in the Streem: Upstart offers syncless sharing
Upload, delete and carry on sharing afterwards?
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a defence for mobile apps
In this whitepaper learn the various considerations for defending mobile applications; from the mobile application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies needed to properly assess mobile applications risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.