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Community Patent Review Project Announced 62

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the coming-together dept.
PatPending writes "American companies General Electric, IBM, Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard have joined with the New York Law School and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to inaugarate a new system of peer review for software patents. The four companies, plus Red Hat, the world's biggest listed open source software business, are the lead sponsors behind the Community Patent Review project. The one-year pilot program will begin in early 2007 and focus on published but not-yet-granted patent applications relating to computer software. Scientists and engineers will be able to submit prior art to patent examiners at the USPTO using an online system. All Community Patent review project documents will be available on the internet for public comment. 'High-quality patents increase certainty around intellectual property rights, reducing contention and freeing resources to focus on innovation,' said David Kappos, vice president of IP law at IBM."
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Community Patent Review Project Announced

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  • I hold the patent for online peer-review of patents. I beat Jeff Bezos to it by maybe a day or two.

  • they had a system like this.
    • by RuBLed (995686)
      You're breaking the trend. No matter how corny it is it should be. "In Soviet Russia Patents announce the Review the Community Project"
    • by rts008 (812749)
      Uhmm...no.
      More along the lines of:
      In Soviet Russia, patents review the community.
      Or something similar in format.
      That's the problem with your post...format- it's important- it's the whole point of the *joke*.

      Now practice: "In Soviet Russia, (subject/noun) verbs you/convenient scapegoat!"

      *cue to obligitory Simpson's scene: Bart writing "In Soviet Russia....." on chalkboard at program intro*

      If this is not rectified within the next three (3) business days, your /. geek credentials will be hereby ridiculed and f
  • What's to stop the company/person with the prior art filing their own patent when the copycat is denied?
    • by inf4m0usB (991305)
      I think it depends on how long ago to prior art was published (if > 1yr you can't file).
      • Whether the creator of the prior art could file a patent also depends on whether the patent applicant conceived of the invention before whoever conceived of the prior art. Publishing an invention does not prevent someone else who invented it first from filing a patent application. Although it is an absolute bar if the inventor does not file within 12 months.

        It's worth noting that the patent application may also may disclose something more precise than the prior art---an improvement perhaps. In that case,
    • What's to stop the company/person with the prior art filing their own patent when the copycat is denied?

      Patent Law

      Statutory Bars [yale.edu] The law requires you to exercise your rights or loose them. The textbook case is Egbert v. Lippmann [wikipedia.org]
      • by aussie_a (778472)
        The law requires you to exercise your rights or loose them.


        Sounds a lot like the human body.
  • Don't the largest current patent holders have the most to gain from this?
    • Absolutely. These big companies have managed a clever scheme to hijack the resolution of the problems with Software Patents. Instead, this gives the Patent Office some credibility, while at the same time offering a platform to make certain that no individual ever threatens these companies again with Software Patents.

      Take Microsoft. They've spend a ton of money this year alone settling patent infringement claims against small people/organizations. Now they no longer have to. And Microsoft isn't the only on

    • What, you think the biggest patent holders in the world, the sponsors of this program, have the most to gain from having the Open Source community help them make their patents bullet-proof before they're granted so that court challenges of them won't survive later on? How cynical of you!

      ...sarcasm off. Of course you're right.

      Bruce

  • American companies General Electric, IBM, Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard have joined... The four companies, plus Red Hat, the world's biggest listed open source software business, are the lead sponsors...

    Did I miss something or could this have been written as:

    American companies General Electric, IBM, Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard and Red Hat have joined with the New York Law School and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to inaugarate a new system of peer review for software patents.

    As for f
    • by kfg (145172)
      Doesn't Sun with Solaris and Java qualify as "the world's biggest listed open source software business"

      http://www-128.ibm.com/developerworks/opensource [ibm.com]

      KFG
    • I think they're the largest company on a US stock exchange (or maybe any publically traded company) whose revenue is entirely open-source based. IBM does a bunch of other stuff, Sun sells servers, and Novell has other products designed for Windows. So Red Hat might be the largest company based whose revenue is entirely dependent upon Linux or a stack built primarily on Linux.
  • I'm actually kind of surprised no one's started a wiki like this... :)
  • I've got a great new piece of software that hasn't been patented yet, I think I'll hand it over to Microsoft for review...
  • "We got ours, lets make damn sure nobody else gets any"

    How nice.
    • by OakLEE (91103)

      "We got ours, lets make damn sure nobody else gets any"

      Well if "they" did invent it first, why should somebody else get a patent on it?

      Peer review is a good thing in principle because it will filter claims before litigation occurs. The average patent suit costs around $2 million to litigate, not to mention time it takes if the case gets appealed. If you can come up with a cost-effective system of peer review that would reduce the amount of litigation, you would actually be making they system more favorabl

  • Of course if you get tire of waiting (they've been announcing this for a while now) you can go look at published patent applications here [uspto.gov].
  • Can't you be held liable to a greater degree if you knowingly infringe on someone's patent rather then unknowingly infringe? Given how many non-prior art but still completely obvious software patents are granted all the time that shouldn't be upheld by the courts, you run a much greater risk of handing over a lot more money if you lose, right? If so, I can't imagine too many people would be willing to take that increased risk. It's much safer to simply not read about the patents and then attack the ridiculo
  • Now Microsoft can use its software and EULAs to control what patents are issued.

    Subsection: The User agrees that s/he will not use the Software to disprove, dispell, reject, invalidate, or otherwise hinder patent applications submitted by Microsoft or Microsoft's affiliates. The User hereby agrees that, in the case of Microsoft's patent applications, prior art does not exist. The creation of documents that claim to show pre-Microsoft prior art with the Software constitutes a violation of this Licens

    • by Jesus_666 (702802)
      This is the subsection when filtered through a "what's effective in Europe" lens:
      Subsection: Bork bork bork bork bork bork bork bork Software bork bork bork bork bork bork Microsoft bork bork bork bork bork bork patents bork bork bork bork bork License.


      Once the FFII has finally won and Europe is rid of software patents the phrase "bork bork patents bork" will be struck from the legal understanding of the EULA.
  • a fantastic way for billion dollar multi-national software corporations to prevent startup companies from gaining any traction in the marketplace by preventing them from protecting their IP.
  • by magixman (883752) on Friday November 03, 2006 @01:28AM (#16699845)
    To fairly grant a patent, the patent office must be able to understand a) what has already been done b) what is just plain obvious.

    To achieve either you have to be skilled in the art of the subject at hand and that is just not something one could reasonably expect of a patent examiner who must be a generalist. A community skilled in the art must get involved and I really think this a good thing and could turn the patent system around. No matter how evil you think patents are, they are not going away anytime soon. The best we can do is to better the current situation by supporting efforts such as this.
    • In the mean time, it will be harder for people to obtain patents. However, after the current ridiculous patents expire, we might be looking at a better system than what we have now.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by bit01 (644603)

      To fairly grant a patent, the patent office must be able to understand a) what has already been done b) what is just plain obvious.

      True. The legal fiction that a minor government bureacrat would be able to assess all of human knowledge and arbitrarily decide whether something is original is just mind blowing. Scientists spend their entire working lives in very narrow fields and even they sometimes make mistakes. Not to mention the idiocy of allowing a minor, empire building government department to act

      • by magixman (883752)
        No, the best we can do is to get our congressional representatives to fix the law so that it actually implements the objectives laid out in the constitution, to also make sure this massive interference in the citizen's business has a scientific basis and maybe send some of the bribed examiners at the USPTO to jail (with the amount of anonymity, ambiguity and money involved it's a certainty there's a lot of corruption going on). These are all unlikely but not impossible.

        Bribed examiners?
        Give me a break
        • by bit01 (644603)

          Bribed examiners?

          Give me a break.

          Don't be so sure. [com.com]. This is anonymous so it's only indicative but it does show how corruption could happen. And for one of the most important patents ever:

          It's widely known that Alexander Graham Bell beat Elisha Gray to the patent office by a mere two hours with his application to patent the telephone. However, ten years after Bell's patent was issued, patent examiner Zenas Wilber admitted in a sworn affadavit that he had taken a $100 bribe from Bell, had taken a

          • by magixman (883752)
            As I said, it's just too easy, there's no checks and balances and there's too much money (i.e. incentive) and anonymity/ambiguity (i.e. no risk) involved.

            Thanks for citing the examples and references. There may well be corruption but I just hate to make the assumption that because there is so much money and anonymity/ambiguity that corruption automatically exists. I guess you can call me naive.
    • by Halo1 (136547)

      Yes, we really should all start working for free for the big companies helping them vet their patent applications. Come on, if a bureaucratic government run monopoly-granting system is broken you do not solve that by making the people work for you for free (in particular because they could be doing productive work instead, like writing or fixing software). Instead, you should fix the system.

      No matter how evil you think patents are, they are not going away anytime soon. The best we can do is to better t

    • Patent Examiner's aren't generalists, they look at a specific subset of technologies.

      I had a chance a few weeks ago to sit in on a meeting of the IPLA on this exact subject.

      The peer review project will be of use to examiner's for prior art, but as I undestand from the implementation, the comments may or may not be visible to the Examiners on the IDS they recieve. Further, how will the legal education of the participants be ensured? For example, who will educate them on the differences between comprising/con
      • by magixman (883752)
        The answers to those questions will determine how effective the whole thing ends up being.

        The definition of non-obvious is supposed be "non-obvious to those skilled in the art". While a patent examiner may specialize in a specific area (e.g. software, medicine), they still are not likely to be "skilled in the art" enough to make a reasonable judgment on obviousness. I have heard it suggested that a better way to use outside experts is to explain to them what needs to be solved and see if they come up w
    • by vyvepe (809573)
      A community skilled in the art must get involved and I really think this a good thing and could turn the patent system around.

      The penalties are higher when an infringement is found and the code writer/owner did know about the patent. It seems to be safer to carefully avoid it.

  • (chirp, chirp, chirp)
  • Have money, will waste other people's time (the happy patent applicant)
  • American companies General Electric, IBM, Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard have joined with the New York Law School and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to inaugarate a new system of peer review for software patents.

    When the judiciary started allowing patents on software (along with business processes and who knows what else) it was a sweet deal for the big players. They apply for a ton of expensive patents that the little players can't afford. If they need to use a patent they don't have, they

    • They apply for a ton of expensive patents that the little players can't afford. Are patents necessarily that expensive? Look at the current fee schedule [uspto.gov]. A basic patent would cost about $1,200 in fees. The big costs are getting a patent agent or patent attorney in to draft up the claims properly and push the patent through the USPTO. And a lot of that cost can be reduced if the patent applicant is willing to take care of the dirty work of identifying the invention and producing an enabling disclosure.

If you had better tools, you could more effectively demonstrate your total incompetence.

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