Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Hooray for the USPTO!

The New York Times is reporting that the USPTO has taken the unusual step of notifying both RIM and NTP that NTP's patents will be invalidated.

We do our fair share of criticizing the patent system here at Right to Create, and often the criticism lands squarely on the USPTO. But we will admit that the USPTO sometimes gets things right when they try, and their involvement in the RIM v. NTP case is a great example of them putting forth extra effort.

But let us not forget that NTP wouldn't have had a case to take to court against RIM if the USPTO hadn't approved these spurrious patents in the first place, that both RIM and NTP have wasted millions of dollars in court because of these bad patents, that RIM has seen massive losses in potential sales and stock devaluation as a result of the case, and that a large number of your tax dollars have also been wasted in this court battle.

We shouldn't lay all the blame at the feet of the USPTO; much of the blame lies with Congress' abdication of patent system oversight and unwillingness to put forth truly meaningful patent reform measures. But let us also see the USPTO's actions for what they are: a demonstration that it does have power to do the right thing when it wants to. Saddly, it doesn't have the resources to take this kind of action for many, many cases that are identical to NTP v. RIM in their absurdity. Undoubtedly, the USPTO acted in this case because of tremendous pressure put on them from the press as well as internally from actors within the government. Would they have done the same had the press not covered the case so fervently? Would they have done the same for you or I if we were in RIM's position against a patent troll like NTP? I hope so, and I hope this case causes the USPTO to take another serious look at their processes. But I fear that the answer is simply, "no," and that until serious, meaningful reform is enacted in law, we are stuck with a system that punishes innovation at least as much as it helps it.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the US Patent Office had been careful in the first place, they could have avoided this embarrassment.

Unfortunately for them, there are about 100,000 bad patents still in their database, each of which could be a source of embarassment the scope of NTP. What will they do with these?

10:29 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home