Friday, January 27, 2006

Said patent news

Sad patent news too. Call me petty, or the resentful victim of a lot of bad fine print, but I don't think it entirely unreasonable that this nation has heretofore hinged billions of dollars in corporate profits on writing clearly. No longer, according to the aforementioned liberalization of the USPTO MPEP; that is, said said patent news. What? Not following me? My point is that now in the section of a U.S. patent where you're supposed to disclose how you made the thing you're being granted a monopoly on--so that successors may build upon it and take up from where you left off (also so that the officers who award patents can tell what the hell you're talking about)--you can get away with writing "said zinc anode" before you've said even the first thing about that whatsit. Feh!

Now, maybe the devil's in the details of the ruling in which said liberalization is said to have been kicked off: An "anode" is just an electrical contact point of any shape or size, and "zinc" is about as specific as you can be for a material without naming isotopes. So maybe "said zinc anode" was clear enough and maybe that's why this court let the patent stand when it was challenged. I haven't read the court opinion. But that's not the point, people! The point is that heretofore the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has had within its egregious phonebook-thick manual of arbitrary and ultimately somewhat ineffectual rules for the examination of applications for a patent one simple rule fostering clarity. "Mind the antecedent!" the Manual of Patent Examination Procedure says. And now this rule is in danger of erosion, which I consider a national tragedy. O.K., a teency beency national tragedy, but a tragedy nevertheless. In essence. (C'mon, stay with me.)

Damn activist judges!

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