Friday, May 11, 2007

Patents – A Changing Landscape

As the number of patent applications continues to rise the backlog of reviewed and then granted applications continue to lengthen. Three years is the current backlog. The Supreme Court recently ruled combining two known technologies into a new one did not pass as non-obvious. This came in a case titled, KSR International vs. Teleflex. For details of the case check out this blog.

What’s even more nettlesome is the “business methods” patent. In this area, a concept (typically web-related) is patented. According to this article the concept for a web-site that matches advice seekers with experts who can answer their queries is already patented. How this passed the “non-obvious” test is something of a mystery.

“Patent Mining” has become a cottage industry providing some companies a business model based solely on patent protection, litigation and monetization.
Acacia Technologies
is one example that appears to be doing great business while other companies are joining into the fray. A company called Metrics Group offers a patent mining process in which they analyze submitted patents and create a visualization map of trends in the patent market.

Forgent Networks is an Austin company who mined its patents and found one for storing a JPEG image on computer media. With that in hand they initiated a campaign to sue every large vendor that stored a JPEG image on their computer, printer, camera, copy machine, and more. They won quite a few settlements.

There are those who champion the cause against those who abuse the patent system by making overly broad claims – especially in software patents. They lobby to get patents revoked. Check out the site of Public Patent Foundation.

It’s a rapidly changing landscape.

Best regards,
Hall T.

6 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You should also look at IPVision
www.ipvisioninc.com. IPVision has mapping and visualization technology (see: www.ipvisioninc.com/kiosk and ipvisioninc.com/techinsider) and other analytic approaches that have been developed in working with Fortune 500 companies and venture funds. This technology was developed by current and former MIT faculty members in the course of commercializing innovations at MIT.

Joe Hadzima
Senior Lecturer, MIT Sloan School of Management
jgh@mit.edu

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