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Halfbakery Patent Office

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Currently inventors filing for a US (or foreign) patent have the option of filing a PCT application prior to filing the official application. Examination of the PCT application provides the inventor with a preliminary search of the claimed invention and a written opinion of the merits of the invention in view of the prior art found. With this information the inventor may or may not choose to pursue a patent (Obviously if the claimed invention is found in the prior art the inventor will either amend the claims of the "official" application to claim a more specific invention or abandon the application.)

Currently most PCT applications are examined by a patent examiner in the US patent office or a foreign patent office. However while most examiners are fairly knowledgable in the art they examine statistically if only a single examiner is examining the PCT application the relevant documents uncovered will be limited to that single examiner's knowledge and the methods of searching available to that single examiner.

What I propose is a method of examining PCT applications by establishing a web cite similar to the halfbakery which would be supported by the patent office and which publishes the PCT applications (or concise but specific abstracts of the applications) into an appropriate class/subclass on the website. Multiple Inventors, engineers, scientists, or joe blow could view the website and could possibly provide many more prior art references relevent to the PCT application than a single examiner and might also comment on possible enablement problems. Inventors and engineers would be particularly motivated to view this website since they might learn new ideas or methods that they could use or improve on for their own invention.

If the inventor wants to go forward with an official examination then the annotations provided by the other inventors, engineers, etc. could be provided with the application in an IDS (Information Disclosure Statement). The official examiner can then take these comments, prior art references, etc. into consideration when making the patentability determination.

The only serious drawback I see to this idea is that many inventors tend to want to delay the disclosure of their invention before a patent is officially published. However on the plus side the public would attain knowledge of technological innovation earlier than in the current system. Currently US patent applications are published 12 months after filing whereas in the proposed system the public would be informed much sooner (i.e. as soon as it can be scanned into the web site after being received by the patent office)

blaise, Oct 21 2002


       My attention span failed me before I got the end. Sorry. So, how about this: overhaul the system by combining the good features of copyrights and patents. Now an inventor claims a “patenright” by simply filing it in the office – no examination at all. At the inventor’s option, a “dibs” mark can be placed on the patenrighted article. If infringed, he can fight it out in court, this part being no different from what is done today. <dibs>
ldischler, Oct 21 2002

       In response to Idischler I don't think eliminating the examination process is a good idea. Statistically in the US over 95% of initially filed patent applications contain a critical error. These errors typically include confusing claims, lack of enablement of claims, lack of novelty of claims and obviousness of claims in view of prior art. With the system you propose which eliminates the examination process over 95% of the "patenrights" would contain critical errors and the courts would be flooded with infringement and validity lawsuits which would benefit no one but lawyers. The examination process is necessary to prevent such problems.
blaise, Oct 21 2002

       Well [blaise], I never said it was a good idea. On the other hand, you don't see huge numbers of lawsuits over copyrights, and I believe (maybe wrongly) that there is not such a big patent problem in countries with registration instead of examination.
ldischler, Oct 21 2002

       I'm not sure which countries you are talking about. I'm fairly sure that both the European and Japanese patent offices perform examination prior to granting patent rights. Besides evaluation of the merits of a patent application before granting patent rights makes the patents more valuable to the patent owner since there is a degree of credability provided with the patent rights and many corporations base there market value on the value of the patents they hold.
blaise, Oct 21 2002

       I went back and gave you idea the courtesy of a full read, and it does have merit, particularly if the web site allowed the kind of give and take of a newsgroup. What the examiner would actually get, I presume, are the references -- he would not have to wade through all of the other rubbish, er, conversation. This would allow people who have nothing better to do, like us, to have fun at other's expense. That by itself is a good thing.   

       Now, your comments about US applications are slightly incorrect. They are published at the 18-month priority mark (as are PCT applications), and only if they are also filed overseas, or if the inventor decides to forgo the secrecy that he is still entitled to.
ldischler, Oct 21 2002


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