The Peer-to-Patent Project

4 Oct 2007 - 4:01pm
6 years ago
2 replies
562 reads
Morten Hjerde
2007

The patent system today is a joke. Its badly broken, and we suffer for it.
Both in our work as IxDs and as private consumers. The most ridiculous and
overly broad patents are granted left and right for claims that are
obviously bogus to anyone with any domain knowledge. Companies are "gaming
the system" as long as the Patent Offices grants monopoly rents to patent
holders that have not, in the end, invented a novel product.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), Britain's
Intellectual Property Office (IPO) and the European Patent Office has an
initiative to help this sad situation.
Well worth checking out for anyone interested:
http://dotank.nyls.edu/communitypatent/index.php

(Now, for the record: I'm strongly in favor of protecting intellectual
property. Had my own IP been possible to protect, I would probably been a
rich man today.)

Frankly, I think IxDA should take a stand on this issue, but that may be
wishful thinking. Most of us work at companies that want to, or does exploit
the system. Don't bite the hand that feeds you, etc.

>From the Economist<http://www.economist.com/search/PrinterFriendly.cfm?story_id=9719020>
:

PATENT examiners, who scrutinise applications for patents and determine
whether they ought to be granted or not, are used to poring over diagrams of
complicated contraptions. But now the patent system itself, just as complex
in its own way, is under increasing scrutiny.

The number of applications has soared in recent years, but patent offices
have been unable to keep up—resulting in huge backlogs and lengthy delays.
Standards have slipped and in America the number of lawsuits over contested
patents has shot up (see chart). In an attempt to fix these problems, the
United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), Britain's Intellectual
Property Office (IPO) and the European Patent Office are evaluating a
radical change: opening the process up to internet-based collaboration.

The scheme, known as "Peer to Patent", was created by Beth Simone Noveck, a
professor at New York Law School. It applies an unusual form of peer review
to a process which traditionally involves only a patent applicant and an
examiner. Anybody who is interested may comment on a patent application via
the internet. The scheme was launched as a one-year pilot programme in
America on June 15th. Sean Dennehey of Britain's IPO, who sits on the
project's advisory board, says his organisation will follow suit by the end
of the year. The project is being supported by big technology firms
including IBM, Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard.

An efficient patent system is essential for the promotion of innovation.
Patents give inventors a temporary monopoly on a new idea in return for
disclosing how it works, so that others can subsequently build upon it. But
if a patent is granted for something that is not novel (people are already
doing it), or is obvious (any Tom, Dick, or Harry in the field could think
it up), it can hamper innovation by turning a widely used invention or
process into one person's monopoly. The trouble is that examiners cannot
always tell when a patent is unwarranted.

--
Morten Hjerde
http://sender11.typepad.com

Comments

4 Oct 2007 - 4:47pm
SemanticWill
2007

Dude - I agree the system sucks and should be changed. I agree that there
are alot of spurious at best applications that get approved. I agree that
it's a perversity of the system that companies - mostly in Texas, can buy
and hold patents for things they never created, never built, have no plans
of building - but simple exist to sue companies that actually make stuff.

That said - I can't and won't take a public stance against any specific
patents. Ironic you post this since just today I had to see a patent
attorney for three applications with my name on it. The reality is that as
long as the system is broke - companies will use it as insurance, and to
protect investments in IP. And if other company's are patenting things like
the One-Click - and the check box -- then companies are left with no choice
but to play the game.

As an aside - a number of years ago I worked as an IA for IBM. During my
first week - orientation - we were required to attend an intellectual
property seminar. We were taught IBM's process for patent applications and
uncovering new IP. They have it down to a science there - and no wonder -
IBM makes over $5 Billion dollars a year from patent licensing alone. When
it comes to creating and patenting ip - IBM is McDonald's.

So in answer to your question - there are no doubt many on the list for whom
making a public declaration through the IxDA would not at all be a
possibility.

--
~ will

IxDA Interaction 08 | Savannah <http://interaction08.ixda.org/>
-------------------------------------------------------
will evans
user experience architect
wkevans4 at gmail.com
-------------------------------------------------------

On 10/4/07, Morten Hjerde <mhjerde at gmail.com> wrote:
>
> The patent system today is a joke. Its badly broken, and we suffer for it.
> Both in our work as IxDs and as private consumers. The most ridiculous and
> overly broad patents are granted left and right for claims that are
> obviously bogus to anyone with any domain knowledge. Companies are "gaming
> the system" as long as the Patent Offices grants monopoly rents to patent
> holders that have not, in the end, invented a novel product.
>
> The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), Britain's
> Intellectual Property Office (IPO) and the European Patent Office has an
> initiative to help this sad situation.
> Well worth checking out for anyone interested:
> http://dotank.nyls.edu/communitypatent/index.php
>
> (Now, for the record: I'm strongly in favor of protecting intellectual
> property. Had my own IP been possible to protect, I would probably been a
> rich man today.)
>
> Frankly, I think IxDA should take a stand on this issue, but that may be
> wishful thinking. Most of us work at companies that want to, or does
> exploit
> the system. Don't bite the hand that feeds you, etc.
>
>
> >From the Economist<
> http://www.economist.com/search/PrinterFriendly.cfm?story_id=9719020>
> :
>
> PATENT examiners, who scrutinise applications for patents and determine
> whether they ought to be granted or not, are used to poring over diagrams
> of
> complicated contraptions. But now the patent system itself, just as
> complex
> in its own way, is under increasing scrutiny.
>
> The number of applications has soared in recent years, but patent offices
> have been unable to keep up—resulting in huge backlogs and lengthy delays.
> Standards have slipped and in America the number of lawsuits over
> contested
> patents has shot up (see chart). In an attempt to fix these problems, the
> United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), Britain's Intellectual
> Property Office (IPO) and the European Patent Office are evaluating a
> radical change: opening the process up to internet-based collaboration.
>
>
> The scheme, known as "Peer to Patent", was created by Beth Simone Noveck,
> a
> professor at New York Law School. It applies an unusual form of peer
> review
> to a process which traditionally involves only a patent applicant and an
> examiner. Anybody who is interested may comment on a patent application
> via
> the internet. The scheme was launched as a one-year pilot programme in
> America on June 15th. Sean Dennehey of Britain's IPO, who sits on the
> project's advisory board, says his organisation will follow suit by the
> end
> of the year. The project is being supported by big technology firms
> including IBM, Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard.
>
> An efficient patent system is essential for the promotion of innovation.
> Patents give inventors a temporary monopoly on a new idea in return for
> disclosing how it works, so that others can subsequently build upon it.
> But
> if a patent is granted for something that is not novel (people are already
> doing it), or is obvious (any Tom, Dick, or Harry in the field could think
> it up), it can hamper innovation by turning a widely used invention or
> process into one person's monopoly. The trouble is that examiners cannot
> always tell when a patent is unwarranted.
>
>
>
>
>
>
> --
> Morten Hjerde
> http://sender11.typepad.com
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://beta.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://beta.ixda.org/help
> Unsubscribe ................ http://beta.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> Questions .................. list at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://beta.ixda.org
>

4 Oct 2007 - 9:08pm
Kam Stewart
2007

Morten,

Thanks, for pointing out the article and effort. The Peer to Patent concept
of leveraging the web to allow constructive peer review of patent
applications is an excellent one.

This effort could go a long way towards helping to streamline the patenting
process, preventing patenting of things that are not unique within their
niche or are too broad. It promises to both speed the process and bring
important information to light much earlier in the process. This should cut
appeals and litigation later on that are currently plaguing the system.

The best way I think the best way that the IxDA could assist is by
encouraging members join the peer review committees and participate. I just
did.

(short rant)
Having participated in about a dozen applications and reviews, my particular
pet peeve that still isn't addressed with these efforts is that at times I
believe the patent application language is intentionally written to
obfuscate the actual workings of the inventions in question.
By comparison to the wording of any particular patent application, that same
invention written by an engineer (not a lawyer) to be built by engineers,
will much more clearly and precisely describe how to build the device. (I'm
of course referring to those rare articulate engineers who write well) I
realize there are specific legal terms and phrases, but setting standards to
be succinct and clear would go a long way to preventing common ideas from
sounding unique and being slipped past the glazed reviewers eyes.

My own preference would be to see something akin to a design specification
with use cases and glossary qualifying the terms. I think this would again
speed understanding of the intent and of what is truly novel. But alas, I'm
not a lawyer.
(end rant/)

/Kam

On 10/4/07, Morten Hjerde <mhjerde at gmail.com> wrote:
>
> The patent system today is a joke. Its badly broken, and we suffer for it.
> Both in our work as IxDs and as private consumers. The most ridiculous and
> overly broad patents are granted left and right for claims that are
> obviously bogus to anyone with any domain knowledge. Companies are "gaming
> the system" as long as the Patent Offices grants monopoly rents to patent
> holders that have not, in the end, invented a novel product.
>
> The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), Britain's
> Intellectual Property Office (IPO) and the European Patent Office has an
> initiative to help this sad situation.
> Well worth checking out for anyone interested:
> http://dotank.nyls.edu/communitypatent/index.php
>
> (Now, for the record: I'm strongly in favor of protecting intellectual
> property. Had my own IP been possible to protect, I would probably been a
> rich man today.)
>
> Frankly, I think IxDA should take a stand on this issue, but that may be
> wishful thinking. Most of us work at companies that want to, or does
> exploit
> the system. Don't bite the hand that feeds you, etc.
>
>
> >From the Economist<
> http://www.economist.com/search/PrinterFriendly.cfm?story_id=9719020>
> :
>
> PATENT examiners, who scrutinise applications for patents and determine
> whether they ought to be granted or not, are used to poring over diagrams
> of
> complicated contraptions. But now the patent system itself, just as
> complex
> in its own way, is under increasing scrutiny.
>
> The number of applications has soared in recent years, but patent offices
> have been unable to keep up—resulting in huge backlogs and lengthy delays.
> Standards have slipped and in America the number of lawsuits over
> contested
> patents has shot up (see chart). In an attempt to fix these problems, the
> United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), Britain's Intellectual
> Property Office (IPO) and the European Patent Office are evaluating a
> radical change: opening the process up to internet-based collaboration.
>
>
> The scheme, known as "Peer to Patent", was created by Beth Simone Noveck,
> a
> professor at New York Law School. It applies an unusual form of peer
> review
> to a process which traditionally involves only a patent applicant and an
> examiner. Anybody who is interested may comment on a patent application
> via
> the internet. The scheme was launched as a one-year pilot programme in
> America on June 15th. Sean Dennehey of Britain's IPO, who sits on the
> project's advisory board, says his organisation will follow suit by the
> end
> of the year. The project is being supported by big technology firms
> including IBM, Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard.
>
> An efficient patent system is essential for the promotion of innovation.
> Patents give inventors a temporary monopoly on a new idea in return for
> disclosing how it works, so that others can subsequently build upon it.
> But
> if a patent is granted for something that is not novel (people are already
> doing it), or is obvious (any Tom, Dick, or Harry in the field could think
> it up), it can hamper innovation by turning a widely used invention or
> process into one person's monopoly. The trouble is that examiners cannot
> always tell when a patent is unwarranted.
>
>
>
>
>
>
> --
> Morten Hjerde
> http://sender11.typepad.com
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://beta.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://beta.ixda.org/help
> Unsubscribe ................ http://beta.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> Questions .................. list at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://beta.ixda.org
>

--

/Kam

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