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[FYI] N.Y. Senator Concerned About Patent Process


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N.Y. Senator Concerned About Patent Process  

(12/13/99, 1:32 p.m. ET) By Mo Krochmal, TechWeb  

NEW YORK -- Government may have to step into the patent process, said 
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) on Monday at an e-commerce conference.  

"This is one of those issues where you can't avoid intervention," 
said Schumer, a member of the Judiciary Committee, on Monday in his 
keynote address at the E-commerce and New Business Models Roundtable 
sponsored by Polytechnic University.  

Traditionally, U.S. patent law has not considered business methods 
for patent protection, but a court ruling in 1998 opened a floodgate 
of patents on processes.  

Priceline.com, an Internet retailer based in Stamford, Conn., was one 
of the first, gaining a patent for its buyer-driven, "name your 
price" business model. Most recently, a New York company, Linkshare, 
last week was granted patent protection on its technology for 
managing Internet affiliate programs.  

"A lot of companies are investing in patent portfolios, not to 
stimulate innovation, but to set up a toll gate," said John 
Clippinger, CEO of Lexeme, a Boston-area software company.  

For businesses, the environment being created is one of insecurity, 
he said.  

"You can be cruising along and all of a sudden, a torpedo comes up 
and you have to wonder what is the price of litigation," Clippinger 
said. "You need to have a war chest for litigation. There has to be a 
new way to think about it."  

That new way may come from legislation, said Schumer, a laywer who 
served as a congressman for nine terms before defeating Alfonse 
D'Amato last year in the New York senatorial election. Next year, 
Schumer, a 49-year-old Democrat from Brooklyn, will become the 
state's senior senator on the retirement of Daniel Patrick Moynihan 
in 2001.  

"It's clear that thousands of companies don't know how patents will 
affect them," Schumer said.  

He said the patent office has become "more expansive" in how it 
grants patents.  

"This is one of the greatest challenges we face in government -- how 
to protect intellectual property," Schumer said. "I'm worried that if 
the patent process becomes too broad, we could snuff out innovation." 
He said government will have to take a bigger role.  

"We need some kind of framework," Schumer said. "We should be working 
together to create that without stifling creativity."   

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