Patents have been the subject of some of the largest industrial claims in worldwide legal history. Only recently, we have seen that a successful patent claim over a good invention can be worth very large sums of money. Regardless, this reality is also open to abuse. In the US, the practice of having “Non-Practicing Entities” (NPE’s) register patents only to use them for legal claims has become a serious issue of concern.
To help resolve this issue, the US Patent Office has chosen to involve the American public. By way of their new online initiative named “Ask Patents”, the public will be able to flag down patent applications which they believe are bogus. The site has been said to use existing Google software designed to hunt down examples of older inventions, legally referred to as “prior art”, with a view to weeding out fake claims.
The US firm “Stack Exchange” has been engaged to run this site. They have been cited as hoping that this initiative will be successful in vetting <href=”http://www.csb-advocates.com/malta-law/intellectual-property/patents”>patent claims. Stack Exchange boss Joel Spolsky is quoted as hoping that this will eliminate the grant of patents to “obvious, unoriginal non-inventions”. Spolsky stated that although Patent Officials worked hard, they only had an average of 22.5 hours to analyse each application, thereby making it impossible, due to the volume of applications, to ensure that the proper checks have been made.
The site will also act as a form of repository or database of what classifies as prior art. Through this, it will be possible for persons to ensure that their idea was not already used before or to ensure that if an application is fraudulent, there is publicly accessible proof to that effect.