Thursday, March 01, 2007

Continuation Rules "Dead as a Doornail"?

the Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO Jon Dudas spoke at the Tech policy Summit on Tuesday, and touched on a number of topics related to patent reform. Dan Farber from the Between the Lines blog provided a report on his speech:

The "Broken" Patent System

Characterizing the patent system as hurting innovation is a "fundamentally wrong" way to frame the debate. "I have traveled around the world, and every nation is thinking how it can model [intellectual property governance] after the U.S," Dudas said. "It's a proven system, over 200 years old. The Supreme Court, Congress and policy makers are involved [in cases and legal reforms] not because the system is broken. It's not perfect, and we should be having the debate on how to improve."

USPTO Recruiting

Dudas said that the average examiner salary is in six figures, and that the agency can offer competitive salaries for college graduates. The USPTO is also looking to expand on "hoteling" –85 percent of trademark examiners work from home and currently 10 percent of patent examiners are working remotely.

Obviousness

Dudas claimed that "the biggest threat" today on bad quality patents is the law of obviousness. Dudas said that examiners need to be given more deference in determining what is obvious.

Proposed Continuation Rules

While Dudas did not speaking publicly on the issue, Hal Wegner has been tipped off by a "highly reliable source" that, during a discussion with computer industry leaders, Dudas claimed that the proposed continuation rules were "dead as a doornail." See post from the Patent Prospector.

UPDATE: Dennis from Patently-O is reporting that his source claims that a modified version of the continuation proposal is "highly likely." I decided to place a few calls myself, and received the following comments:

"[The USPTO] wants to push this through, so I'm surprised [Dudas] would categorically state it was 'dead' . . . the original proposal was scrapped, so maybe that's what he was referring to."

"The proposal went cold at the end of last year, and various people began gossiping that it would be dropped for a later date, but, as far as I know, [the USPTO] is working on a modified draft as we speak."

2 Comentários:

Ben said...

I'm surprised that in regards to obviousness he didn't defer to the Supreme Court, who are currently looking at just that issue.

Also, as nice as it is that patent examiners can work from home and draw in six-figure salaries, it would be nice if they were qualified to examine the patents they were given. It does no one any good to have someone with a degree in physics looking at a patent for a method of transfecting genes into plants.

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