Subject: RE: [openip] Re: "rights" and "freedoms"
From: Stephen Turnbull <>
Date: Tue, 19 Oct 1999 23:29:06 +0900 (JST)

>>> From: Richard Stallman []

    >>> Subject: [openip] Re: "rights" and "freedoms"
    >>> The US Patent Office is incompetent in all fields, and issues
    >>> trivial patents habitually.

Easy for us to say....  Let's say doing a good job researching prior
art takes a work week (5 days).  (Ross said "several days," and patent
examiners are generally not specialists.)  With 500 software patents
granted per week, the P.O. needs 100 "prosecuting examiners" just for
the software patents granted.  How many do they have?

>>>>> "Ross" == Ross N Williams <> writes:

    Ross> At 9:29 AM +0200 19/10/99, Robert M. Muench wrote:

    >> Each patent has a 3 month public period were
    >> everyone can file an objection to a published patent. It should
    >> be trivial to show prior art to the PTO and argue about the
    >> triviality of the filed patent.

    Ross> Answer: Because there is one US software patent issued, on
    Ross> average, every 20 minutes, and it would take several days of
    Ross> work to find prior art for each one and prepare a
    Ross> submission.

Still, it sounds like something practical that can be done now.  And
the Patent Office ought to be happy about it, since fewer really dumb
ones would get through, which makes them look bad.  This should up the
quality of applications (and reduce quantity), allowing them to do a
better job of review.

And the anti-racketeer brigade can concentrate on the ones that look
most vulnerable, which should help to bring down the amount of time
needed to research the prior art significantly.  (How much of that
"several days" is research and how much preparation of the

Whatever happened to the De Concini (sp?) proposal to open up the
process and extend the public review period?  Can it be revived or is
it deader than software patent abolitionism?

>>>>> "Ben" == Ben Tilly <> writes:

    Ben> Personally I think that a good change to the system would be
    Ben> a publically announced period with a large monetary reward
    Ben> for anyone who can demonstrate prior art.

Who pays?  The Patent Office?  I think not....  If it's the applicant,
well, that will make patents exclusively a game for large
corporations.  It already pretty much is, of course, but do we want to
be pushing harder in that direction?  Do we want to increase the value
of existing portfolios, which don't have to risk that, by even more?

University of Tsukuba                Tennodai 1-1-1 Tsukuba 305-8573 JAPAN
Institute of Policy and Planning Sciences       Tel/fax: +81 (298) 53-5091
What are those two straight lines for?  "Free software rules."