Feeds

US patent system braced for a shake-up

Still handing out daft patents, though

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

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. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
BBC: We're going to slip CODING into kids' TV
Pureed-carrot-in-ice cream C++ surprise
China: You, Microsoft. Office-Windows 'compatibility'. You have 20 days to explain
Told to cough up more details as antitrust probe goes deeper
Windows 7 settles as Windows XP use finally starts to slip … a bit
And at the back of the field, Windows 8.1 is sprinting away from Windows 8
Linux turns 23 and Linus Torvalds celebrates as only he can
No, not with swearing, but by controlling the release cycle
Scratched PC-dispatch patch patched, hatched in batch rematch
Windows security update fixed after triggering blue screens (and screams) of death
This is how I set about making a fortune with my own startup
Would you leave your well-paid job to chase your dream?
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?