Archive for August, 2013

Big software and the White House and AIA – the circle of life (or death) for the American patent system

29 Aug
So that no one has any disillusions about whether the White House is firmly in the grasp of the tentacles of big software, the Chief IP Enforcement Coordinator at the White House (Victoria Espinel) has just been given a lucrative position as head of the Business Software Alliance where she will now be in charge of stomping on small businesses in favor of big software.
We thought big software had a hold on Obama and his staff when David “IBM” Kappos, patent strategist at IBM, was nominated by Sen. Patrick “IBM” Leahy and appointed by Obama to be Director of the PTO, we thought it more when the White House and the IBM controlled PTO supported Patrick “IBM” Leahy in his push for adoption of the pro-big software earmark-riddled AIA legislation to gut the patent system, help Wall Street and help certain law firms and make patents even more a game for politically connected fat cats, we thought it confirmed when Kappos bailed immediately after implementation of the AIA and took a plush job with AIA lobbyist  law firm Covington & Burling ([see]where Espinel came from – no surprise) . The small inventors of America, who are arguably the ones really creating American jobs, really stand no chance with this Congress and this Administration and their desire to please big software and the lobbyist law firms for big software. It makes you wonder if Thomas Jefferson was right about patents when he argued against James Madison’s plan to have them in America. You see Jefferson felt they would become a tool of the rich to thwart the natural right of people to ideas of inventors disclosed to them  (Jefferson, like many of our founding fathers, was a Deist who believed in a natural rights theory of property – see Jefferson did not want patents to be awarded to just fat cats as they were for King George, who awarded patents to courtiers not to inventors. Jefferson was sufficiently concerned that the compromise that got the first patent law through put Jefferson as the first “patent examiner”, even before he became President, a position where he was one of three, two of which had to approve an invention to become a patent and thus was in effect managing the patent system [].

But cheer up, the Republican’s record on patents is perhaps even worse.


US Patent Office finally (after nearly 20 years) has PDF patent images online – or does it?

24 Aug

From our “premature-announcement” dept.

GAPS (Google Patents) has had PDF for years, as has, Free Patents Online and practically every other patent search service. PDF patent images are the standard for courts and pdf patent images are readily available nearly everywhere else, so the USPTO announced it has dropped the archaic use of TIFF images and joined the modern world with PDF patent images. Now perhaps the PTO can gradually upgrade its obsolete search engine, perhaps to be more like Google’s or other free services.

Now if they really wanted to update their online services, perhaps the PTO could even make patent authoring software, such as (created by Rocky Kahn and his staff under NSF grant funding and even used by the EPO examiners for examining patents and automating office actions) has had freely available online for years, that would be customer service. Some of us, me included, think the PTO is too beholden to IBM and other big business interests to fulfill its opportunity to encourage small innovators who are the real engine for technological advancement and new jobs (at least new American jobs).

However, despite the announcement,blasted out by email today (8/24/2013) as follows:

“Patent on the Web Upgrade

The USPTO has upgraded the USPTO Full Text and Image Database. It now uses PDF images instead of TIFF images which provides several new benefits including the ability to print full documents. Patent images may be viewed, printed and saved using a standard PDF-equipped browser. A separate TIFF plug-in is no longer required. In addition to the standard page-by-page viewing, users may now also click on a “Full Document” button to retrieve all the patent images at once.”

 a quick check of the link in the notice on 8/24/13 (date of the announcement) reveals the USPTO still uses TIFF images instead of PDF images and require a TIFF viewer like AlternaTIFF or Quicktime. Lack of credibility aside, the PTO is long overdue in switching to PDF, the overwhelming standard of the government and business world, as PDF provides several new benefits including the ability to print full documents rather than do it laboriously page by page. As the notice says if the PTO actually does what it says it already did, patent images may be viewed, printed and saved using a standard PDF-equipped browser. If the PTO actually does what it say it already did, a separate TIFF plug-in will be no longer required. In addition to the standard page-by-page viewing, users may now also click on a “Full Document” button to retrieve all the patent images at once.

I see the PTO is still using TIFF images in PatFT as of the date of the announcement of the switch.

I, for one, would prefer the PTO to just work out some deal with Google and let Google run the PTO full text search engine so it could be done properly and save the PTO millions of dollars in the process. Those millions could much more usefully go to hiring more examiners in the backlogged art units than paying for an obsolete search engine with limited capabilities and a poor interface.


Amazon’s Domain Name Troubles Threaten ICANN Program

07 Aug

Corporate counsel are attacking ICANN for backtracking on the gTLD program and changing the rules to disallow famous trademarks as domains if countries claim rights. Rejecting .amazon and .patagonia makes corporations wonder if seeking gTLDs is viable. A corporate boycott of ICANN’s gTLD program is brewing that could derail the program.

See Corporate Counsel article on this.


The Death of the US Patent System – an Obituary and Proposed Resurrection

01 Aug

First we had the world’s best patent system and American ingenuity was the envy of the world.

Next, we let the best Congress money can buy steal patent fees to cripple the PTO, and made the patent laws so complex they became a rich man’s sport designed to protect only big business from new startups and innovators.

However, some inventors still used the patent system to advantage so the best Congress money can buy, to better protect big business and stifle small inventors, passed the Anti-Inventor-Act of 2011 (misnamed the AIA or America Invents Act) designed to prevent and kill patents, which should more properly be called the America Stops Inventing Act or ASIA since that is who it benefits. [see the 1st and 4th post at where “I warned about this”]

Since patent assertion was now made a rich man’s sport, small and medium sized inventors turned to Patent Assertion Entities that have the financial clout to pursue patent litigation by aggregating enough patents to make it worthwhile. Big companies (especially importers that do no inventing and want to sell on price alone) that want to be able to ignore patents and just steal inventions like people steal copyrighted material on the Internet – have been targeted by these PAEs and don’t like it. Some of the PAEs are, in fact, bullies that intimidate with suits designed to extract settlements. It takes a bully to fight a bully sometimes. Of course, Amazon or eBay or Walmart don’t think of themselves as “bullies”, but any inventor who has tried to stop them knows otherwise.

Not surprising! When Congress screws up the patent system, which Congress really does not understand anyway, this sort of mess is inevitable. Now, the best Congress money can buy, is being asked by the patent infringers to stop all the “low quality claims”, “frivolous litigation”, “abusive litigation”, “questionable business method patents” or whatever other terminology marginalizes real inventors and in essence just means “we are stealing your inventions and we don’t want to pay”. The White House is duped into following this, as when it comes to Congress and the White House “money sails and justice fails”. After all, it takes money to buy negative TV campaign ads to get re-elected and that is the real priority. So we see the Asian goods emporiums like Amazon, Dell, eBay, Google, Kroger, Eddie Bauer, J. Crew, Macy’s, Safeway, Wal-Mart. Note there is not an inventive company among them! They are patent thieves who get new ideas by just copying what real inventors create. Again, they don’t do research except to see what sells and what ads work best, so they need to steal patented inventions and they don’t want to pay those who do invent, as paying inventors reduces infringer’s profits.

What is the solution to this mess? We had it back in 1793-1836. A patent registration system that quickly issues patents without the examination. However, as was realized by 1836 someone needs to guard against issuance of patents on “inventions” that do not warrant a patent. That is why the PTO was established, to do it impartially. If we had only added a patent office that conducts examination, determines validity/invalidity, and determines infringement/non-infringement so that we had some tribunal that knew what it’s looking at and what it’s doing. The average patent examiner could do the examination in a day and determine validity or invalidity in a day and the infringement analysis in probably an hour.  We could have a fair, objective and reliable answer in less than a week and everyone could move on with certainty and small inventors and big inventors alike could be confident they would get fair treatment.

Of course, we would need to guard against politicians corrupting the PTO. It is very disappointing when IBM’s patent strategist is appointed as the Director of the PTO and then immediately sets about lobbying for and then implementing the Anti-Inventor Act of 2011. It makes small inventors wonder if there is any way to keep big business from stacking the deck against them. For now, the answering is a clear NO, there is NO such way.