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May 31, 2011


This is not surprising in light of the fact that Gary Locke used to advocate on behalf of MSFT, is advised by their former lobbyist who also was in charge of MSFTs IP advocacy in these issues, is advised by the head of the PTO who used to run IBM's advocacy for patent reform, etc. Conflicts of interest abound. They should have recused themselves from this whole topic as promised in confirmation hearings. For more on this, see:
Critics raise concerns at Commerce - by Michael Falcone in POLITICO.com
Gary Locke and Microsoft: http://keionline.org/node/968

Kevin, since you've taken the neutral reporter stance on this one, I'll ask the question that's on everyone's mind: can someone get us some of whatever drug Gary Locke was on when he wrote that note? Because he clearly wasn't on the same planet the rest of us when he wrote parts of it, and it would be nice if the rest of us could achieve a similar state of obliviousness.

Dan: the "neutral reporter" tone should have alerted you that Don wrote the post. But I can certainly provide an answer, however.

Politics is an interesting process - comparing it to sausage-making doesn't do it justice. What we have here are very bright people who have limited understanding ( willfully blind or otherwise) and who believe that it is more important to be doing something about the economy. If it causes a catastrophe, that will not be evident until it is way past their time in office.

On the bright side, politics may also be what saves us - there is a good chance nothing will pass, as the election nears.

Thanks for the comment.

Thanks for the comment

In other news, some patent attorneys think that some small revisions to patent lawl could possibly lead us into a catastrophe. Regardless of the fact that there is no real evidence that the patent system does much of anything other than create one huge bother for all involved. Gimme that ol' time religion, gimme that ol' time religion!

As Edmund Burke stated: "The true danger is when liberty is nibbled away, for expedients, and by parts"

Awarding patents to the highest bidder and not the first innovator in the name of expediency (to reduce backlogs) puts yet another financial roadblock in front of small entrepreneurs attempting to challenge old technologies. Essentially, Congress is essentially trying to reduce the backlog by reducing innovation.

Drastically changing a system that has made the United States a leader in innovation for 220 years is wrong and a slap in the face to what has made America great.

While there are better ways to fix a broken patent system of endless backlogs, the combination of changes being proposed will instead exacerbate the patent backlog, make it harder for early stage companies to raise capital and will ultimately cost jobs instead of creating them.

The greatest travesty is that Congress has not even asked those who innovate. So speak up. Call your Congressman and ask him to hear your voice and tell them the following:

1. Changing from "First to Invent" to "First to File" may be beneficial to large multinational corporations, but awarding those who can afford patent lawyers is unfair and pretty un-American. When a company must use all of their money filing patents (when a logbook will do), there will be little money left for jobs and innovation. As an investor, I would rather my money be spend on jobs and innovation, not paperwork.

...but, hey, the patent office will be generating a lot of revenue by charging for patents applications.

2. Shortening the grace period only reduces the time that a company can perfect their product and get revenue. Yet another unintended consequence of so called reform.

3.Extension of post grant review only extends the time when a patent may be challenged. Extending the time when a company may be challenged just increases my risk as an investor and reduces my interest to invest in startups.

4. I am not sure why the US would change their system to First to File when several other countries like the UK and Japan which did that in the last decade have noted a decline in innovation are are now contemplating a change back to First to Invent.

While the legislation may be well intended, it will have serious long lasting consequences to American Innovation.

Call your congressman and let him know that you oppose this until they can be more thoughtful about it. But first, ask him if he has even read it.

Don, Kevin,

Ok, you're onto me, I *was* on something myself when I wrote that note, improperly identifying Kevin as the author of the post. :-)

I know it's sausage-making (or worse), but that doesn't make it any less painful to watch what should be a straightforward exercise (going from FTI to FTF) get hijacked by a few deep-pocketed companies who are intent on gutting the patent system and succeeding in having provisions inserted that will do just that. Or to see people like Gary Locke play along with that.

I know I'm not alone in being completely in favor of abolishing the practice of fee diversion, but completely against certain other provisions of the House's patent reform bill. While I'm on the fence regarding first-to-file, I think that the provisions limiting the traditional grace period (which inventors need in order to gauge market value) are certainly problematic. What's more, the post-grant review and prior user rights provisions are a nightmare waiting to happen. In other countries where such processes are permitted, there lurks always the strong potential for larger and better-funded entities to harass (and even financially destroy) inventors. If these provisions are not changed, then we can only hope that patent reform will not happen this year.

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