Subject: Re: patent trolls and X-licensors
From: "Ben Tilly" <btilly@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, 5 Jun 2006 10:44:41 -0700

On 6/3/06, Stephen J. Turnbull <turnbull@sk.tsukuba.ac.jp> wrote:
> >>>>> "Thomas" == Thomas Lord <lord@emf.net> writes:
[...]
> There's really nothing *more* wrong with the patent office doing the
> reviews than some "independent" third party's opinion.  In fact, it's
> likely better (consider the various scandals worldwide concerning
> auditing of corporate accounts).  There's a clear advantage to
> favoring patent holders---that leads to monopoly, higher profits, and
> more surplus the lawyers and "independent" experts can suck up.

Major point.

The US patent office is funded by patent seekers and is run for
profit.  The examiners hired are incompetent, underpaid, and judged on
how many patents they approve.  At the current time I see no practical
distinction between this state of affairs and what one would expect
from a private system.  A private system where the third party bears
actual liability for negligence in approving patents would be a major
improvement.

Of course a public system where the patent office is properly run
could be an improvement over that.  But sadly, given the current
political situation, I would think that any privatization initiative
would be a buzzword for biasing the system even more than it is
already biased.

Incidentally a few years ago I remember seeing someone on FSB saying
that a selection of random patents owned by IBM was surveyed and it
was estimated that about 70% were invalid and would not hold up in
court.  The opinion was expressed that IBM was unlikely to be
exceptional in this regard, and may even be better than average.
Given this, I'm fairly comfortable saying that most patents *are*
invalid.  The question then becomes what the best thing is to do about
this fact.

Cheers,
Ben