Monday, January 30, 2006

Patent Infringement Exemption for Researchers?

As part of an Education and Research package in the newly proposed Protecting America's Competitive Edge (PACE) Act, Congress is proposing several patent reform measures, including:
Congress should implement comprehensive patent reform that--
(A) establishes a first-inventor-to-file system;
(B) institutes an open review process following the grant of a patent;
(C) encourages research uses of patented inventions by shielding researchers from infringement liability; and
(D) reduces barriers to innovation in specific industries with specialized patent needs.
The first two of these suggestions have been floated before, and are likely to be a part of almost any proposed reform package. The last two are truly interesting, and indicate that Congress has heard some of our complaints.

Specifically, we know that patents have had an extremely chilling effect on science, with 40% of research adversely affected by patent monopolies, and roughly 1 out of every 5 research projects being canceled outright. To those of you who wrote to your representatives about this startling fact, you can take item (C) from the above list as proof that, once in a while, our elected officials do listen to us.

Item (D) is also of interest, as it hints that Congress may be beginning to understand that not all intellectual monopoly is equal, and in particular, that there is now a general recognition that software patents and business method patents should be treated much differently that patents on physical devices. Once again, if you've written to your representatives regarding this issue, take heart.

If you have not yet written, today is a good day to send a nice letter to your Senators and Congressional Representatives, urging them to support and/or draft legislation that shields researchers from infringement claims, and which improves the fairness of the system with regard to overly broad and excessively long-lived patent monopolies granted for algorithms and business methods. As always, feel free to cut & paste any text from any article here at Right to Create in composing your letters.

And, if you have written in the past, please do so again, today. Nothing but continual pressure will bring about the meaningful reform that we truly need. Without your letters, the only ones pushing on our officials will be the expensive lobbyists paid by corporate America.


Blogger Jackson Lenford said...

"The first two of these suggestions have been floated before, and are likely to be a part of almost any proposed reform package."

Just to clarify -- just because these two reforms (first-to-file and post-grant-review) are likely an inevitable part of most reform packages, this doesn't mean they are necessarily good. Others have pointed out that both could be used to the advantage of moneyed interests, i.e., that they give more advantage to large corporations than they do to small inventors.

The jury is still out on whether this is true, and we won't know how it plays out until we see details. And likely, even then, we won't know until we see how it ends up getting used by patent players. Still, these two reforms should be treated with extreme scrutiny.

While you are writing your reps in praise of (C) and (D), you might also want to express your concerns about (A) and (B).

11:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

>reduces barriers to innovation in >specific industries with >specialized patent needs.

Trying to separate high-tech from pharma ? And all the rest of the zillions of industries from one another ?
Good luck...

Yeah, high-tech is not happy about the fact that most important inventions come from a small guy, they just can't let it go...
They's better start learning how to cooperate with us , small inventors, rather than attempt to rob us.

12:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder if the freely available software world might not be able to claim research status in many circumstances. Will be interesting to see how such a bill is worded. "This posting is being made freely available for purposes of research"

3:10 PM  

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