Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

Patent system's problems defy easy solutions

Filed under
Legal

Reliance on the horse was a sign of the "primitive state of the country and of the patent office at the time, where the quickest way to deliver messages around the city of Washington was by a boy on a pony," according to "The Patent Office Pony," by Kenneth W. Dobyns. He also writes that in 1835, the office issued 757 patents.

If only things had stayed so simple. In fiscal 2004, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office approved about half of the 376,810 applications it received, according to preliminary data, and it expects a flood of new activity this year. Although the office has raised application fees and hired new examiners, by many accounts the agency is struggling with its workload.

Lawyers, companies, inventors and politicians all agree that the nation's patent system is in desperate need of reform. They cite concerns about proliferating litigation, questionable licenses and a potential decline in American competitiveness. The question is how to reform: For all the complaints, little consensus has emerged on how to fix the system.

In the worst-case scenarios, misguided reform efforts could unleash unintended consequences. For example, proposals to weaken the threat of court injunctions are designed to help defendants and reduce the number of lawsuits--but critics say this so-called reform could actually increase the amount of litigation.

The issue is coming to a head in Washington, where committees in the House and Senate are planning hearings on a host of proposals to change the nation's patent law and how the Patent and Trademark Office operates. The ideas being proposed run a wide gamut, from forcing patent holders to license their inventions to others, to the elimination of software patents altogether.

Full Article.

More in Tux Machines

Librem 15 Is a Beast of a Linux Laptop with a Gorgeous Finish

Librem 15 aims to be the only laptop coming with completely free software and its makers are looking to get some funding through a crowdfunding campaign. You might think that if a laptop ships with any Linux distribution, then it would stand to reason that it would be loaded with free and open source software, but the truth is that it's not that simple or even intuitive. For example, it's true that the Linux kernel is an open source project and that it's freely distributable, but there are some people in the community that say it's not enough. Read more

Google and Facebook feel the wrath of German open source advocate

Open-Xchange CEO Rafael Laguna has hit out at the closed nature of services offered by Silicon Valley giants like Google and Facebook. Speaking in Paris earlier this month, Laguna said many of Silicon Valley's largest companies, and others like them, need to open up their proprietary systems to comply with laws around the world and uphold many of the citizen’s rights that people have fought for over the last several hundred years. Read more

Best of open hardware in 2014

Open hardware is the physical foundation of the open movement. It is through understanding, designing, manufacturing, commercializing, and adopting open hardware, that we built the basis for a healthy and self-reliant community of open. And the year of 2014 had plenty of activities in the open hardware front. Read more

Open Source Online Game Gets Students Excited About Linux

When Razvan Rughinis began teaching the introductory operating systems course at University Politehnica of Bucharest in Romania 10 years ago, he was challenged to get students interested in Linux and keep them interested for the entire three-month course. Many first-year computer science students have no experience with Linux, and they have no interest in learning it, said Rughinis a professor in the Computer Science and Engineering Department. And those students who do know Linux are regarded as unusual and treated as social outcasts, he said. “They wouldn't pay attention to the first experience to see what Linux has to offer; not just the desktop, but how the services work and the depth of the system,” he said. “It's a steep learning curve for students coming from high school. Their first encounter was too difficult.” Read more