Pundits Weigh In on Microsofts Proposed Patent Reforms

Microsoft watchers find some things to like, and others to watch closely, when considering Microsoft's proposed patent remedies.

A day after Microsoft put forth a proposed platform for reforming the U.S. patent system, industry watchers began picking it apart.

Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith presented Microsofts proposed reforms on Thursday during a daylong seminar at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research in Washington, D.C.

Microsoft is a major patent holder as well as a defendant in a growing number of patent-related lawsuits. The Redmond software giant is calling for a wide swath of changes, including creating a district-level patent court and allowing third parties to submit prior-art evidence before, not only after, patents are granted.

Some Microsoft watchers found a lot to like about Microsofts proposals.

"Whereas but a few years ago using the term patent reform would have caused one to be classified a radical communist, today there is significant consensus that our current patent system is systematically flawed and in need of repair," said Don Ravicher, executive director of PubPat.org.

(PubPat.org is a nonprofit group that has advocated for a major revamp of the U.S. patent system. PubPat was a force behind the U.S. Patent Offices preliminary rejection of Microsofts File Allocation Table, or FAT, patent.)

"Most of it [Microsofts platform] "seemed very logical and common sense," agreed Directions on Microsoft senior analyst Matt Rosoff.

Rosoff said Microsofts proposals to cease the use of patent-office fees to fund other operations, harmonize patent processes internationally, and rethink the determination of "willful infringement" are all sound ideas.

"I strongly agree with the proposals to reign in willfulness and injunctions," PubPat.orgs Ravicher said. "Those aspects of the law divert resources from technological development to attorneys and provide hold-up opportunities, which result in severe economic waste."

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