On many levels, the U.S. patent system is profoundly flawed. Too many patents are issued for "innovations" that are obvious, vague or already in wide use. Too many patent holders try to extend their claims to devices and services that weren't even contemplated when the patents were granted. And it's a difficult, costly exercise to overturn a questionable patent after it has been awarded.Some have criticized the editorial because it makes these claims without supporting evidence - but that portrays a fundamental misunderstanding of the editorial format; there is not room in an editorial for a treatise with footnotes. Suffice it to say that evidence supporting the writer's position is in abundance. A quick google search on "ridiculous patent" will give the reader a wealth of reading to peruse (you can also try "patent obvious vague" etc). Or you can simply visit the USPTO's website and type random, innocuous queries into the patent database and be amazed at the things that turn up, or you can skim through many of our past posts here at Right to Create. Wherever you look, patent system abuse abounds.
Compounding the problem, federal courts have been quick to hand patent holders a sledgehammer when their patents have been infringed. The appeals court in Washington takes the position that, except in exceptional circumstances, courts must issue permanent injunctions to stop infringers from using the inventions in dispute.
Monday, December 05, 2005
A fabulous editorial appeared in this weekend's LA Times: