It's Not The U.S. Patent And Propaganda Office, Is It? - InformationWeek

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Infrastructure // PC & Servers
Commentary
3/15/2007
04:45 PM
David  DeJean
David DeJean
Commentary
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It's Not The U.S. Patent And Propaganda Office, Is It?

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has done a really terrible job the last few years. But just when you think it's surely hit bottom, it sinks even lower. This week Patent Office Director Jon Dudas released a study that says peer-to-peer file-sharing services may be setting up children for copyright infringement lawsuits and compromising national security. What's that got to do with patent

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has done a really terrible job the last few years. But just when you think it's surely hit bottom, it sinks even lower. This week Patent Office Director Jon Dudas released a study that says peer-to-peer file-sharing services may be setting up children for copyright infringement lawsuits and compromising national security. What's that got to do with patents, you ask? My point exactly.Do you think that perhaps Mr. Dudas is trying to deflect attention from his agency's manifest failures? The USPTO's policies to permit patents for business processes and software have opened the gates to patent trolls and predatory lawsuits. Its incompetence at its most basic job, patent searches, means you could probably file for a patent on picking your nose and the Patent Office would happily grant it, unable to find any prior art.

So why is Mr. Dudas taking such an interest in file-sharing, and spreading bizarre fantasies about peer-to-peer services networks manipulating sites so children violate copyright laws more frequently than adults, and repeating urban legends about file-sharing programs installed by government workers that threaten national security? It's wag-the-dog stuff, like African uranium and weapons of mass destruction.

Perhaps Mr. Dudas is auditioning for a job with the Recording Industry Assoc. of America, or maybe he wants a spot as a U.S. attorney. For the time being, however, he's got a big job to do, cleaning up a mess that is creating a reverse-Robin-Hood effect in high-tech: bad patents are being used to steal from the truly innovative and give to the truly venal. I'd much rather hear from Mr. Dudas about how he's improving the USPTO's performance and efficiency than how worried he is about things his agency has no responsibility for.

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