What's our experience with the USPTO? Er, how about slow as molasses in in January.
We filed a patent application in Oct. 2007 and did not get a review of it until Sept. of this year!
As is typical for 1st round through the system, several claims were objected to by the Examiner. For the 2 valid concerns the USPTO Examiner expressed we have clarified the (very substantial) differences and pretty much rebutted the rest of their objections cited as not even having anything to do with our application or methods described in it.
Now to see how long it takes for the re-examination....
so many comments and not much time to read all of them. I surly know the importance of protecting the IP for tech industry. But if a single patent takes 8 or so years to get passed then i think we need some reforms to get things done faster.
Axel do you not realise that "given the technology of today" is a rather bogus starting point for knocking something invented and disclosed in a patent application eight years ago?
I didn't intend to make any assessment of the patent's quality: You're dead right that proper standards of inventiveness need to be established and upheld by the examiners. USPTO examination has been rather poor in past decades, IMHO, and this patent may be an example to illustate that. however, USPTO is nowadays likely to be too strict, which is just as bad, if not worse (Google 'post KSR', if you want further reading.)
Your last comment is misleading, however: patents are absolutely not mandatory to prevent other people patenting your own ideas: all you need to do is publish your idea to protect it from being patented by others. Companies that file patents also regularly use this 'defensive publiation' technique, for innovations that they don't want to patent, or that they deem are not inventive enough.
The main problem is that such simple stuff can be patented at all.
They are just describing a simple method to use a centralised server instead of a gaming box at home. Actually the only reason it has not been done before is that neither the servers nor the communication lines were powerful enough to do this eight years ago.
Given the technology of today this is a nobrainer.
However as everybody else can patent their stuff at a similar level it is mandatory to get a patent for whatever people do just to make sure they're not blocked from their own idea.
przen you can download patent publications in PDF format from USPTO and many other providers, free of charge.
The only inconvenience is that you usually will need to enter one of those scrambled codes.
Hope that makes your life easier!
Kinnar - Patents were invented to encourage & reward humans to do all the things that nature doesn't do by herself.
If our ancestors had left it to nature, your photo wouldn't show us your nice shirt; you wouldn't have spectacles or a clean shave (or a photo). Of the people and companies who developed those things for you over the last 500 or so years, 99.9% did so with the protection of patents, and now you get the benefit.
You are right it requires many things for a venture to succeed, but this is why patent protection in the early stages is so important: the inventor/employer needs some comfort to balance the risk that all those things won't come together. Somebody needs to buy the computers and pay the engineers, or the great ideas will simply go to waste.
Great discussion anyway. It is unusual to see such a sane discussion on patents on the web!
This is something frustrating why people are after patents, let all use their expertises and come up with something new. It requires too many things for one venture to get succeed. The nature is doing all this things but the "nature" have never asked for patent.
Privatizing works best when there is an established market in which it's clear who is the customer, what they want, and what are the costs.
Issuing patents isn't one of those. Who is the customer of the patent system? The Constitution establishes the patent system specifically "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts". How would you set up incentives to guarantee that the privatized patent system would fulfill this goal. I have no doubt that privatized patent office would be very efficient in issuing a prodigious number of patents and clearing the backlog, but how would you guarantee their quality or positive effect on the industry and science?
It's true that the PTO should wake up and adopt some industry best practices, like providing readable patent documents rather than individual TIFF pages---but I don't see how they could delegate the policy without compromising the constitutional mandate for promoting progress.
I found that a patent has most value in decreasing perceived risk for prospective investors, but needs to be supported by other risk-reduction factors like successful trial data, reference market feedback, and believeable ROI costings. However, all that supporting evidence is not of much interest to investors without obvious IP protection activity to provide the comfort factor, even if the patent itself is destined to be vapour.
What's the cause of the backlog? Is it the efficiency or is it because of the # of attempted patents? For patent process, I would rather the office do a thorough study before granting it. There are just a bit too many patents that are not fallen into the category but that are attempted.