Problems with Patents

This cartoon from Droidmatters is targeted toward Information Technology, but informs in an easy way some issues with the US Patent and Trademark Office:

Problems with Patents Cartoon

From The Spoilsman: How Congress Corrupted Patent Reform by Zach Carter published on Huffington Post back in October.

“Many people are still looking for work or looking for a job that pays more,” Obama said to a scrum of reporters. “There are more steps that we can take right now that would help businesses create jobs here in America.”

The first item on Obama’s list of immediate, job-creating congressional actions was the passage of patent reform legislation.

“Right now, Congress can send me a bill that would make it easier for entrepreneurs to patent a new product or idea, because we can’t give innovators in other countries a big leg up when it comes to opening new businesses and creating new jobs,” he said.

Besides the fact that the US Patent and Trademark Office re-routes cold fusion/LENR related applications, what else is the problem?

Trolls file hundreds of lawsuits a year over “low quality” patents — lobbyist legal jargon for the questionable or downright bizarre patents routinely granted by the understaffed Patent and Trademark Office. In recent years, patents have been approved for products including a wheeled flower pot (patent No. 7,908,942), the crustless peanut butter and jelly sandwich (patent No. 6,004,596), a decorative box that can be placed in a casket (No. 7,908,942) and an accounting scheme that helps people dodge taxes by moving stock options around (No. 6,567,790). Once approved by the patent office, it’s difficult and costly to overturn the patent in courts, which grant significant deference to the office’s decisions.

What does the newly enacted patent reform mean for innovators?

Here’s one view from Paul Morgan from Patently O 2011 Recap: The Practically Important Elements of the America Invents Act of 2011.

Another view comes from Eric Savitz at Forbes US Inventors: Take Heed of the Revised US Patent Law.