Tuesday, October 29, 2013

"Covered Business Methods" program, proposed as a strategy to hinder patent trolls, attracts criticism; but "post-grant" review is slow

There is a lot of discussion in the news now about patent reform bills before Congress, such as whether to treat “CBM” (the “Covered Business Methods" Program”) with a separate process.
The biggest concern seems to be that non-technology companies, especially supermarkets and restaurants, are being confronted with letters from supposed patent owners demanding payment for use of some technology, such as a scanner or item or price locator.  One obvious question is why the retailer didn’t get protection for use of the technology when purchasing or leasing the item from a vendor.  Why doesn’t the business get a “license” to use the product (the way you get a software license to use a copy of Microsoft Office)?
Timothy B. Lee reports on “The Switch” blog about an interview with Tim Malino of the Business Software Alliance (BSA – a pun – link here) about Bob Goodlatte’s proposed patent legislation here.  There is some discussion of the “post grant” review specified in the America Invents Act of 2011.   Lee has an earlier article dated Oct. 28 explaining CBM on the Switch Blog, and appearing on p. A12 of the Tuesday October 29, 2013 Washington Post. 
Grocers, especially smaller ones, say that frivolous patent litigation causes higher prices for consumers, and makes smaller retail outlets less able to compete on price. 

It’s interesting to me how much money in Washington is tied up in lobbyists, who make big money at this, to put their kids through college and the like.  The rest of us like to live in our intellectually perfect worlds or fairness and objectivity, until some rule caller badgers us about how to make real money.  We seem to come back to the “it’s free” problem.  

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