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United States

New USPTO Site for Independent Inventors 24

sv0o sent in a link to a new, amazingly attractive US Patent and Trademark Office Web site called Independent Inventor Resources. It could easily be subtitled "Everything you ever wanted to know about U.S. patents and trademarks but didn't know who to ask." Now, when you have a question about patent or trademark law, you have an authoritative place you can go for answers instead of guessing - or relying on opinions from people who don't necessarily know what they're talking about.
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New USPTO Site for Independent Inventors

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  • This is a good thing... so many people (including myslef) are often confused by what can be copyrighted/trademarked/etc. I hope this helps clear up some confusion.
  • Well, obviously someone at the PTO knows what a computer is. Why aren't they handling (ie. rejecting) bogus technology patents?
  • I found the section of "What Cannot be Patented" where it mentions perpetual motion machines. I once heard that the USPTO got a lot of those in all shapes and forms. It must be an image of status for the fringe to have the title "inventor" and attempt to claim rights on a intriguing device that seems to make energy from nothing.

    I saw a thing on TV (if I remember right it was 20/20) where they were checking out these inventor kit/marketing scams where they submitted a little patent application of their own: a car cruise control fashioned of a brick to be placed on the accelerator pedal. The $700 "application fee" was accepted. Seems like the area of patents and IP are prime grounds for scam artists.

    There isn't much to do when applying for a patent search, just pick a good library. I used Linda Hall Library in Kansas City (a large technical library) to help with a patent search. It was quick and the patent was approved with a few details corrected after the first submission.

    Patents may be easy and may benefit you, but will they benefit the "inventor" who has a novel idea, or will the cost of entry be too high? Will the person be discouraged, tricked out of vital information by other interested parties and not be first, or get bought out or offered a throwaway employment position at a company right after the guy (or gal) signs all those rights away?
  • That while the USPTO is still functioning as per usual, they have lowered the bar on patents that are approved, and let the courts sort out any patent disputes (This is not just in the computer field, but all over.) I think that the USPTO should be told to spend more time researching patent applications beyond the normal stupidity checks such that less of the courts time is spent in patent disputes.
  • You see that image in the middle there.... "Scroll down for more" ?

    Seriously --- how many people don't know how to use a web-browser (or any application with a scrollable area, like a word-processor) and can't use a scrollbar? And should those people be inventing anything in the first place?


  • I used to think patents were a great way to capitalize on ideas. Well, after seeing how freedom breeds innovation and patents stiffle it, I would prefer to use a platform unencumbered by restrictions and secrecy.

    It looks like the patent office is just becoming a strongarm registry, where you sugarcoat your idea with buzzwords and layers of obfuscated jargon to hide the true simple idea that has been rehashed throughout evolution.

    Are patents evil? It makes me cringe that an Evil Software company can buy up all the research and patent things elementary and unrelated to its premise and steal such ideas as the door hinge for its own portfolio. When they have the bucks to apply for everything, it looks like they are going for World Domination. Then we can be written out of the Life's End User License Agreement.
  • Now, when you have a question about patent or trademark law, you have an authoritative place you can go for answers instead of guessing - or relying on opinions from people who don't necessarily know what they're talking about.

    Actually, the USPTO is no more authoritative on matters of patent and trademark law than Joe Random Usenet Poster. If you want authoritative, you're going to need someone in a black robe. At best, what you get from the USPTO are the policies of the Board of Patent Examiners -- which can easily be overruled by the courts.

  • According to the site, you can't patent:

    Inventions which are:

    • Not useful (such as perpetual motion machines); or
    • Offensive to public morality

    Who says perpetual motion machines wouldn't be useful? I think they meant "inventions which violate thermodynamic laws."

    Also, I'm not sure about their standards of what's offensive. Most /. readers might consider many software patents [] (such as the infamous XOR patent []) to be offensive. In Alabama, they might consider this audio dildo [] to be more offensive... combine that with a perpetual motion machine and you've got something really unpatentable!


  • The simple answer why patents on things that seem obvious are granted is that the Patent Office bases a rejection on "prior art" which requires a prior publication or patent. This means that software that was never documented, and rarely patented or otherwise formally published, never makes it into the "prior art" pool. There are actually a number of organizations attempting to solve this problem right now, by providing a better software prior art database to the patent office.

    As to your second question, how software is different from a literary work, the answer is that software enbodies a useful function. The only thing protectable by a copyright (which is how literary works are protected) is the actual expression used. But the underlying functionality, the point of the software, can not be protected. There is no such underlying functionality in literary or musical works. That's why software is patentable, and music isn't. The other reason is that if you do not permit software to be patented, you will just force applicants to couch their software patents in hardware terms (e.g. the memory stores data, and then the processor calculates something). This is silly. Software has been patented since the mid-70s.
  • I would encourage anyone with an extra $400
    bucks to apply for their own patent on whatever
    internet/software/computer/etc. process or algorithym you can imagine, speculate on, or
    read from a text book.

    What we need to do to get this system changed is demonstrate how silly it is. Besides, you can also threaten companies with your bogus patents for fun and profit.

    Remember they only have so many examiners and the examiners obviously don't check much, so have at it!
  • I found the section of "What Cannot be Patented" where it mentions perpetual motion machines.

    A friend's father works for Canada's National Research Council--part of his duties include helping people who want to apply for patents.

    He says a significant amount of the time, people come in with something that boils down to a perpetual motion machine. They are hoping that a little more lubricant just here will make their mockup work correctly.

The less time planning, the more time programming.