Tuesday, January 10, 2006


About time...
The patent office has come under increasing pressure in recent years from critics who contend that it issues patents without adequate investigation of earlier inventions. As a result, conflicts over published patents have loosed an avalanche of intellectual property litigation.

At a meeting last month with companies and organizations that support open-source software (software that can be distributed and modified freely), including I.B.M., Red Hat, Novell and some universities, officials of the patent office discussed how to give patent examiners access to better information and other ways to issue higher-quality patents.

Two of the initiatives would rely on recently developed Internet technologies. An open patent review program would set up a system on the patent office Web site where visitors could submit search criteria and subscribe to electronic alerts about patent applications in specific areas.

The third initiative is focused on the creation of a patent quality index that would serve as a tool for patent applicants to use in writing their applications. It is based on work done by R. Polk Wagner, an intellectual property expert at the University of Pennsylvania.

"This is a great example of how the patent office can reach out to the community and how they can help us where we have difficulty getting prior art," said John J. Doll, the commissioner for patents.



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