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The Register: US patent mess will get worse before it gets better

Apr 02, 2000, 08:17 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Graham Lea)

"The discredited US business patent issuing machine is being tweaked, but the signs are that it will not bring about the reform needed. The action plan of the US Patent and Trademark Office's new business methods patent initiative has words of comfort about industry outreach and quality issues, but it is failing to impress those at the patents coal face who know that the USPTO will continue to use its rubber stamp too liberally."

"The new USPTO programme will introduce a second pair of eyes to give an additional layer of review by a senior examiner. In addition, the guidelines for computer patents will be revised in April. Supposedly, more attention will be paid to prior art - patent jargon for earlier technology and patents related to the application - since in very many applications, there is nothing novel."

"Apart from silly US patent case law, the situation is made worse by the ponderous USPTO, which has never managed to keep current on technology when that is the essence of its business. When the first software patent applications began to be filed, hardware experts were used because the agency had no software expertise. The situation has not improved greatly. What has happened is that patents for business processes that are neither new or unique are being granted by a gung-ho USPTO that only gives a cursory glance at them before waving them through."

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