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[FYI] (Fwd) PTO- USA Today
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- Subject: [FYI] (Fwd) PTO- USA Today
- From: "Axel H Horns" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Date: Wed, 13 Sep 2000 08:55:35 +0200
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Date sent: Tue, 12 Sep 2000 22:20:32 -0500
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Subject: PTO- USA Today
fyi - Valerie Darbe (firstname.lastname@example.org)
> USA Today - September 11, 2000
> Page 1A
> Surge in ideas, turnover swamp patent
> office Some property rights at risk
> By Del Jones
> USA TODAY
> The U.S. Patent Office is getting swamped with a record 500 patent
> applications a day at a time when examiners are being hired away
> in droves at double their average $61,000-a-year pay.
> The patent office could issue as many as 200,000 patents this
> year, up 61% from three years ago. Internet-related patents rose
> from 433 in 1997 to 3,512 in 1999 and are on a pace to exceed
> 5,000 this year.
> The office has been scrambling to add staff, but annual employee
> turnover is running 15% vs. the 10% norm. It's been 19% in the
> center that examines computer and Net technology. Because of
> expansion and attrition, more than half of the 3,100 examiners
> have been on the job less than two years.
> Experts close to the situation say the one-two punch of volume and
> inexperience is exhausting the office, and undeserving patents are
> slipping through. That's critical to an economy that runs on
> intellectual property.
> Companies that get patents for ideas that aren't new can collect
> licensing fees from others that prefer to pay to use the idea
> rather than fight in
> Also, large companies can restrict upstart competition by quickly
> filing patent infringement lawsuits against entrepreneurs
> patenting new ideas. Fighting a large company in court can be so
> costly and time consuming that it scares away the entrepreneur's
> ''It's becoming almost extortion,'' says Greg Aharonian, a
> consultant who finds evidence of bad software patents for
> companies. ''Patent quality in this country is a joke. It's
> getting worse.''
> The most publicized contested patent is Amazon.com's one-click
> that forces on-line purchasers to click twice when ordering from
> other sites. Thousands of lesser-known patents are being
> contested, placing a heavy burden on the federal courts.
> But the head of the patent office says there's no crisis yet.
> ''We're not overwhelmed,'' says Q. Todd Dickinson, undersecretary
> of Commerce and director of the patent office. ''We're doing a
> great job.''
> Ronald Stern, president of the patent-examiners union, says
> examiners are working under ''sweatshop'' conditions to meet
> productivity quotas.
> ''You're going to see more goof-ups,'' says patent attorney Kevin
> Pontius, who left the patent office as an examiner in 1993.
> Dickinson says the quality of work has yet to suffer and offers an
> annual survey of patent lawyers and companies that shows 67% are
> happy with the fairness of patent decisions, up from 54% in 1996.
> Aharonian says the survey shows a false picture. He says impartial
> academic experts who study the validity of patents would be far
> more critical.
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