Google leaps on patent reform bandwagon
If reform is the right word
Today, some of the biggest names in high-tech have their eyes on the nation's capital, where lawmakers are babbling about an overhaul of the U.S. patent system.
After years of lobbying from companies like Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Intel, the Senate Judiciary Committee has pulled together a very official hearing called "Patent Reform: The Future of American Innovation." Chairman Patick Leahy and his crew are debating the Patent Reform Act of 2007, a bipartisan bill introduced this spring in both the Senate and the House. The bill may turn up on the floor of the House as early as tomorrow.
Earlier this week, Google went public with its support of the bill, chucking a post onto its new public policy blog. The search engine cum world power is sick and tired of patent trolls, companies intent on using their patents to siphon money from other businesses.
"Unfortunately, the patent system has not kept pace with the changes in the innovation economy," wrote Johanna Shelton, Google policy counsel and legislative strategist, and Michelle Lee, the company's head of patents and patent strategy. "Google and other technology companies increasingly face mounting legal costs to defend against frivolous patent claims from parties gaming the system to forestall competition or reap windfall profits."
As a new member of the Coalition for Patent Fairness, a lobbying group whose membership reads like a who's who of the tech industry, Google has put its weight behind the Patent Reform bill as a whole, but there's a handful of issues the search giant is particularly excited about.
First off, it hopes to change the way courts award damages in patent cases. If a small portion of a product infringes someone else's patent, it believes, damages shouldn't reflect the value of the product as a whole. "A windshield wiper found to an infringe a patent should not spur a damage award based on the value of the entire car," Google said.
Along the same lines, the Mountain Viewers argue the courts should think twice before ruling that a company has "willfully" infringed a patent - a decision that warrants triple the damages. "That standard has been devalued. Punitive triple damages should be reserved for cases of truly egregious conduct."
Google also wants "post-grant review," which involves a quick reappraisal of questionable patents by the U.S. Patent Office, and a restriction on "forum shopping," which allows patent trolls file their cases with the most patent-troll-friendly courts. "The bipartisan Patent Reform Act would achieve many of these goals in a fair and targeted manner," Shelton and Lee wrote. "These reforms will go a long way toward modernizing the patent law system to ensure it continues as an engine for economic growth and innovation."
You these guys daft? This isn't patent reform...
Its a license to steal.
True patent reform would be the removal of software patents and business reform from being patentable along the same lines as a mathematics algorithm.
There are only a finite number of ways of solving a problem given a specific language, and these end in an optimal solution. (Note: there can be more than one optimal solutions in some cases) Thus it is quite common that there will be prior art that contributes to a patent as well as multiple different groups that are attempting to solve a problem simultaneously.
These major companies call such lawsuits as frivilious ?sp? yet, its their license to steal. Just ask Eolas.
Should there be patent reform?
Sure. Most definitely.
But also consider tort reform too.
One last comment. Its the triple damages which makes patent violations so expensive if/when you lose. Its probably one of the few things that keeps microsoft in check. Note that we're talking about a company which has been found guilty of being a monopoly and using its position as a monopoly in an illegal manner.
patents always worthless
You can spend your time fighting useless patent battles or you
can innovate around them the only reason to patent anything
you intend to use yourself is to keep others from patenting it and
denying you the use of it. Companies that worry about patents are already behind but thats not to say you won't use them to hamstring
your competitor if you get a chance it's war (business) after all.
patents don't encourage anything
Imagine going to school and not being able to learn how to calculate the area of a circle because that method is patented. Imagine the formula E=mc^2 being patented. Imagine the method of "how to drive a car" being patented.
Now imagine all that knowledge being freely available for the progress of human civilization.
Besides, just because someone had an idea in one part of the world and patented it, doesn't avoid that someone has the exact same idea in another place. Now, the second person would not be able to use his idea because someone else went running to the patent office.
You could say that ideas are not necessarily that original, since they are highly influenced by context. And many people can be in the same context at the same time. Haven't you ever told someone about an idea and get a comment like "oh yes, I thought the same thing the other day".