I'm just stunned that the PTO's goal is to get a "first action" notice time down to within 10 months? WTF? Why isn't that goal "24 hours"?
There is clearly something fundamentally broken with the process. And that "something" is all the work required to gain patent status. What is needed is a process that doesn't require all this back-and-forth to get a patent but, rather, defers that work until there is a clear and obvious need for it to be done.
Instead of patenting ideas, why not just "register" them by filing a form that says, "So-and-so claims to have invented this-and-that on such-and-such date." This would reserve the right to pursue legal action against an infringer at some later date, but no further action is required or taken by the PTO. For example ...
- It's up to you to educate yourself on which patent ideas are defensable in a court room.
- PTO charges $100 to register your "idea". The fee is just to avoid massive spamming. You're notified immediately that it's been accepted.
- Once registered, your idea is protected for 14-20 years from the date of filing, just like today.
- If and when you ever choose to enforce your patent through legal means, you pay a "substantial" fee ($1,000? $10K? $100K?) to have the PTO provide a patent "determination". The determination pays for the PTO to evaluate the validity of your idea and provide a summary recommendation to the court as to how to proceed. In effect, the PTO acts as a "professional witness" in legal patent battles, and nothing more.
- Judgement of actual patent validity is made in the courtroom (where it's already made, in practice).
This process ...
- makes the patent system more approachable to your average lay-person.
- eliminates 99% of the workload that's currently burying the PTO
- lets the PTO focus on what they do best - analyzing patent quality - where and when those efforts are genuinly needed
- cuts the PTO action time from years down to essentially zero
- eliminates much of the abuse of patents (patent "registrations" are basically meaningless until you get into a court room).
I'm sure there are plenty of reasons for why we don't operate this way though, right? So what are they?
My $.02 worth.