[Fsfe-ie] US Congress to Overhaul Patent Law
jm at jmason.org
Tue Aug 23 19:22:57 CEST 2005
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It's not *all* bad, though, in the US proposal.
On one hand, first-to-file is pretty absurd. However, reportedly the
proposed Patent Reform Act combines that with other new rules, requiring
patent applications and newly issued patents to be widely advertised (to
cut out submarine patenting), and allowing a low-hassle method of
challenging "bad" patents and applications (so that once a patent is
issued, it won't take $millions to knock it out).
So in other words, as far as I can see, the idea is that a bad patent
application would be quickly spotted, easily challenged, and not
remain a problem.
I'm not sure, but so far, US-based FOSS patent watchers seem to be
reasonably happy about this proposed law, at least compared to
their current one.
> 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
> http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story 050814182026814
> 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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