Terminally Incoherent

Utterly random, incoherent and disjointed rants and ramblings...

Friday, July 29, 2005

It has begun... Patent office in trouble!

I told you this will start happening sooner or later! Patent office seems to have major issues with hiring, retention and employee morale. Jason Shultz from EFF nailed it:

The incredible surge of patent applications, especially in the software and Internet business method arena, is just crushing them, and the management problems are rising to the surface with greater visibility for those reasons

I said it before, and I'll say it again. The current patent system will either plunge us into a technological dark age, or will collapse on itself. And it seems that we might actually see a reform before USPTO kills innovation in the software industry.

The article also sheds some line on why software patents suck so badly. It seems that most examiners are swamped with work, and poorly prepared to work with technology and software patents. Yet they are expected to meet the work quota that were developed in an era when you could not patent mouse clicking...

The amount of prior art that has to be searched has gotten greater. The number of pages of specifications that somebody has to read is greater. The number of claims that an employee has to consider is much larger than it used to be. Those things all make it take more time. What has really happened is that people have been forced to do the job faster, and as a consequence, they've been forced to cut corners.

And this is where the problem lies. There is no proper prior art research anymore, because the examiners are so swamped, they'd rather blindly grant the patent, than read another 100 pages of mostly-made-up high-bullshit-grade techno babble.

This system is not working. It haven't been working for a while now. Something must be changed. Of course the simplest change would be to ban software patents altogether. This would solve many problems USPTO is facing now, and make our lives so much easier. But that's not going to happen yet - because it would piss off patent hoarding corporations.

But one thing is sure - something will happen sooner or later because USPTO already starts folding under the weight of silly patent claims.


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