[Fsfe-ie] US Congress to Overhaul Patent Law

Éibhear ifso at gibiris.org
Tue Aug 23 12:52:24 CEST 2005

Malcolm Tyrrell said:
> "They want to change the U.S. patent system from the uniquely American
> first to invent" to "the first to file" standard the rest of the world
> uses."

This is the one that's causing some the greatest amount of concern. Look
at last week's announcement that Microsoft secured the patent on the
iPod's interface. Every dog and it's mother knows that Apple invented the
iPod, and the situation arose because Apple was slow in lodging patent
claims on it's functions. Microsoft got there first. Under the current
first-to-invent system, a court case would present that the iPod itself is
"prior art" and therefore the patent is on shaky ground.

In a first-to-file scenario, Microsoft could say, well we filed first so
it doesn't really matter who actually invented the technology, now does
it? Apple would be well and truly screwed and be required to pay the $10
per unit (as suggested) to Microsoft to compensate Microsoft for gaining
benefit from a technology Apple invented.

Groklaw has an interesting discussion on this specific matter at

Is it cynical of me to notice that the attempt to enforce a broken patent
regime on Europe was justified on the grounds of harmonising with the US,
and the attempt to enforce another broken patent regime on the US is
justified on the grounds of harmonising with other countries (namely

> "the lawmakers' goal is to produce legislation that will lead to fewer
> and less costly lawsuits."

In a first-to-file scenario the dispute between who actually invented the
technology becomes moot.


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