Readers sounded off on our recent coverage of attempts to reform the U.S. patent system.
Here's a sample:
To the editor:
As an electrical engineer studying law, I was excited to see your treatment of patents in your most recent issue. In general, engineers do not understand the patent system as well as they should (it is their intellectual interest at stake, after all). I hope that your treatment serves as a "call to arms" of sorts. However, I would briefly point out several problems with your approach:
1. First, as any doctor will tell you, treating symptoms doesn't cure the disease. Extending this analogy to your "symptoms-treatments" approach, there are obvious problems.
2. I am afraid that your support of the patent reform act sounds like: "Any change is better than what we have now." This is quite simply not the case. Believe me, things could be a whole lot worse, and the reason that so many patent experts do not support the current reform act is because it has lots of aspects that could very well make things worse.
3. Post-grant review is one such aspect that, while it sounds good in theory, promises prolonged litigation after the fact. We're talking about the government here. Do you honestly believe that they could create a "crisp, manageable post-grant review process" all without making arbitrary, engineering-stupid decisions? (We are talking about bureaucrats and not engineers and scientists making these decisions, after all.) I have very serious doubts about that.
I would also point you to a pilot project that you might find interesting. It is a program by which the general public can submit examples that might put into question the "patentability" of different applications in the [U.S. Patent and Trademark Office].
Thanks for your patent coverage. Keep up the great work.
JD Candidate, 2010
University of Minnesota
To the editor:
A simpler solution to the patent problem might be to simply lower the time that a patent is enforceable. Software and electronics changes very quickly. To grant a patent for 17 to 20 years is ridiculous. How about 7 or 8 years?
This won't fix everything, but it sure would solve a lot of problems.
Monolithic Power Systems