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Where’s Bill Slawski when you Need Him?

I applied for a Business Process Patent years ago because it appeared to be a way to protect a business model that larger, more aggressive competitors could co-opt. It wasn’t. I never knew why, and never got a straight answer from the patent attorneys I dealt with, but it was clear that large aggressive corporations could get business process patents and I could not.

Ten-plus years later, we see the USPTO revising how it awards such patents. We have discussions of how the changes might effect things like Google’s patent on PageRank. Man, if I ever needed a student of the law who could also explain things in the good English that we search people understand, I need one now.


  1. Bill wrote:

    Thanks. :)

    Many of the patent filings from Google that I’ve seen describe computer processes which take place on more than one computer, which might mean that they would survive this change in position from the US Patent Office. why would a process involving more than one computer be successful, and one involving only a single computer not be successful – I don’t know. The author of the article you link to calls that distinction “so Kafkaesque as to strain credulity.”

    For instance, the patent filing from Google on Blended Search – Interleaving Search Results involves multiple search engines, and a “results mixer” that determines if and how search results could be mixed together.

    Regardless, I think there are other bigger problems at the USTPO, such as a recently granted patent involving anchortext exhibited.

    A document displaying the search process used by the patent examiner when he was looking for earlier and similar methods showed that when he searched in one academic resources database (the ACM Digital Library), instead of looking for “anchortext”, he searched for “anchotext.” He didn’t find much in the way of relevant results with that text.

    A comment to my post on that patent, from the head of the research department at Lycos, also pointed to a granted Lycos patent that described a similar process involving “link text” that was filed and granted earlier than the patent in question.

    @Bill thanks for stopping by (sorry your comment got flagged for moderation – go figure). That search example is appalling, but who would not expect sloppy work with the time and work pressures those staffers endure? What is most interesting to me is the documentation that reveals the sloppyness… that transparency is perfect for passing liability for the sloppyness right back into the system, protecting the staffers from the usual scapegoating, and letting us pursue righting the wrongs. As usual, no shortage of work for the lawyers ;-)

    Tuesday, July 22, 2008 at 2:02 pm | Permalink
  2. Stacy wrote:

    man, I wish we were patent lawyers. I hear getting even a simple patent is a long and tedious process, and there is a massive backlog so the official patent does not happen for years.

    Wednesday, July 23, 2008 at 8:35 pm | Permalink