Monday, January 23, 2006

Developments in the Patent Process

I've recently come across two interesting documents regarding the current state of the U.S. patent system:

1) "Blackberry Picking," by James Surowiecki, from the 12/26/05 - 1/2/06 issue of The New Yorker. Surowiecki examines the recent case involving Research in Motion (or RIM), the Toronto-based company that brought the BlackBerry technology to widespread use. In this piece, he discusses the phenomenon known as "patent trolling," whereby small companies with patents find their fortunes not by bringing their creations to market, but rather by suing for infringement those companies that expend the effort. In addition, the author cites data showing that understaffing at the USPTO enables patent trollers to thrive.

2) "Competition, Innovation, and Racing for Priority at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office," by Linda Cohen and Jun Ishii, from the AEI-Brookings Joint Center for Regulatory Studies. This 45-page study challenges the long-standing American belief that awarding patents to someone who is "first to invent" is more entrepreneur-friendly than those nations (particularly Japan & those in Europe) who award inventors who are "first to file". Instead, they argue that the "first to invent" method delays the introduction of new technologies. Their paper isn't going to change the way the USPTO does business, but this has been an ongoing debate in the intellectual property community in the U.S.

1 comment:

Darrin Conroy said...

For those interested in how the BlackBerry case is proceeding, there was (coincidentally) this story on CNN's Web site the morning I posted this entry:

http://money.cnn.com/2006/01/23/technology/scotus_rim.reut/index.htm?cnn=yes