Readers Respond: Fixing the Patent Mess

 
 
By eweek  |  Posted 2006-02-06
 
 
 
Case Law states that an issued U.S. patent is presumed valid (Editorial, "Fixing the patent mess," Jan. 16). Trial courts pay scant lip service to this presumption, and if the presumption was ever valid, no knowledgeable individual believes in it today.

Even when Patent Office examiners have the necessary expertise to examine the most complicated and advanced technology, they are under such time pressure to perform their duty that they rarely have time to read a patent application in its entirety before beginning their search for prior art.

They also rarely have time to consider prior art other than issued U.S. patents. The patent examiner also has to be concerned about the classification of U.S. patents he or she is searching. Computer searches are relied upon increasingly, if not entirely, because of time constraints, and such searches depend on the accuracy of database input and the completeness of the search request.

As to prior art submissions by outside parties, one has the uneasy task of persuading an examiner that he or she has not performed an adequate search and that prior art exists that was missed by the examiner. I doubt if I am the only person who has experienced a strong bias inside the Patent Office against prior art submitted by an outside party.

Perhaps the time has come to forgo the pretense that an issued patent is valid. The question is, Has the time come to adopt a registration procedure? Such a procedure would mean that there would not be any examination for novelty prior to the issuance of a patent, and new ideas would be disclosed to the public promptly. Also, the prohibitive cost to inventors of obtaining a patent would be a thing of the past.

Yes, it would mean that litigation would be required to decide whether the claims of any patent were valid and enforceable. But, how is that different from today?

Roger Norman Coe
Hilton Head Island, N.C.

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