In such a time as this, it helps to have a translator so that We The People can understand what just happened here. Thankfully, IPTT is on the job with the PTT™ (Patent Troll Translator), which can be used not only to translate patent troll-speak, but USPTO-speak as well.
And here we go…
“Upon careful consideration, the USPTO has concluded that the SAWS program has only been marginally utilized and provides minimal benefit,” the post, which was published Monday night, reads.
“By ‘marginally utilized’ we mean ‘arbitrarily utilized, depending on who offered to pay us the most’, and by ‘provides minimal benefit’, we mean ‘Oh, hell, you caught us!’
Further, upon being asked by Dennis Crouch (and probably others that it’s too early in the morning for me to go dig up) to provide statistical data surrounding our Sensitive Application Warning System, we decided that we’d better kill it before FOIA makes us disclose even more information, that will make us look stupid at best and devious at worst.”
Here’s the beef: the USPTO had a system that allowed the examiners to flag certain applications for extended review and they didn’t have to tell anyone they did it. Eeps. Here’s how the process is supposed to work:
Usually, when you submit a patent application, it requires the approval of one or two examiners who work with the office. Those applications can take anywhere from 22 to 29 months to be issued, depending on fees you pay to speed up the process or the lawyers you have representing you.
Emphasis mine. Oh good grief. Ms. Lee? This is something you need to fix. You shouldn’t be able to pay your way to the head of the line, and you need to have examiners who are lawyers so that they are on a level playing field with the people submitting the applications for the inventors. I said all this once before after interviewing a former examiner.
“The patent office has a tremendous latitude in making these illegal practices, whether it’s by SAWS or other processes,” Hyatt told Yahoo Tech in January.
That’s not the 1/2 of it, if anything my interviewee has to say about it is true. I’m really hoping that Michelle Lee is able to make some changes in the examination process for two reasons:
- It will improve the quality of patents.
- It will take that bat out of the hands of inventors who want to gripe that the process is the problem.
Because as for #2 right now, they’re right.
Beyond the fact that the program wasn’t publicized and the people stuck in it may or may not have known (did they, can anyone confirm?), there’s this bit that sticks in my craw worse than line jumpers:
So, say you’re an inventor who has founded a startup. You’re waiting for your patent to be issued, so you can start your company. In fact, some of your funding may depend solely on your ability to secure the rights to that innovation. If you were placed in the SAWS program, you could be potentially dragged along for years. Meanwhile, you might lose funding or face additional competition.
WHY does funding depend on a patent being issued? I can’t get over that. If a patent is all you have, you need to rethink your pitch deck. Besides which, to the point of that last sentence, competition is good! We all get better by playing against someone who’s better than us, right Gene Quinn? I dunno, like I said about the Fuzzibunz lady: are you an entrepreneur or a patent-preneur?
In the end, there’s two ways to look at the death of SAWS, the first being this quote by Kate Gaudry:
“This is a good indication that they’re willing to objectively step back and look at their programs and efforts, and listen to their stakeholders,” Kate Gaudry, an associate at Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP, told Yahoo Tech. “And change what needs to be changed.”
Um, okay. Let’s see if Thomas Franklin, also of Kilpatrick Townsend has a better take:
“I’m not sure this is a win for transparency to say: you found this program so we’re shutting it down,” he told Yahoo Tech.
Yeah, the second one.