Monday, March 01, 2010

Where are the Graphic Images for U.S. Patent 7669123 ? Why is the Technology of Image Viewing at the USPTO Stuck in the Stone Age ?

If you have tried to view the USPTO online graphic images for U.S. Patent 7669123 without success, you most likely do not have a graphic viewer that can display TIFF files using ITU T.6 or CCITT Group 4 (G4) compression. Who does have such software? Practically no one.

One institution of domestic government that is sorely in need of implementation of the U.S. President Barack Obama campaign promise of "change" is the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) - an inexcusably antiquated operation that has literally been left in the proverbial dust of foreseeable innovation by the fast pace of the modern digital era.

To show just how backward the USPTO is, they are still unable to unify a patent into ONE document - even if split into multiple modules in the case of larger documents, preferring rather to stick to a hopelessly outdated format that keeps the text of the patent separate from the images that accompany the patent, making the viewing of patents an enormously outdated chore for anyone involved in the patent business. We face the same problem at Yahoo Groups too, as Yahoo is another outfit populated by Rip-Van-Winkles. The USPTO argument that their way is the "patent standard" around the world by no means exculpates the patent offices for this glitch but rather proves that those patent offices are all about 20 years behind the times.

Worse, in what amounts to a technological scandal, the special TIFF format used by the USPTO is not geared to normal state-of-the-art graphic viewing programs used by everyone - that would be too simple, so that the average user is forced to buy programs to view the special USPTO patent graphic format - there being only one, very poor, free viewing program (AlternaTIFF) and one cripple-ware program (interneTIFF) that did not install on our system at all. Are patents really "of, by and for the people"? Nah. Only for the select few.

Brian, commenting at Nipper's The Invent Blog writes:
"I can’t understand why the USPTO uses a tiff format rather than a pdf format. I’ve gotten to where I rarely ever view images on the USPTO website anymore. Instead I either pull up the patent on Google’s patent search site or download the pdf from somewhere like pat2pdf.org."
The user interface of AlternaTIFF is confined and cramped for some reason known only to its programmers to the left side of 1/3 of our 22-inch screen in a non-legible size and any sensible use of those images in magnification mode is an insult to digital intelligence.

Both of the aforementioned TIFF viewer programs are listed by the USPTO as having been tested on IE and Netscape, a browser discontinued two years ago, and AlternaTIFF has been tested on Opera. Someone might inform the USPTO that Mozilla Firefox is the second most popular browser in the world today and is regarded by many savvy observers to be the best browser available, used especially by the tech community in great numbers. That there are dozens of other browsers out there (Chrome, anyone?) using standard graphic programs and viewers with great success is a piece of information that someone should pass on to the USPTO as well. That an institution in America responsible for patents is itself a Model-T Ford as far as tech status is concerned merely verifies the incompetence that seems to run rampant in the top echelons of this institution.

As the USPTO itself writes:
"PTO's full-page images, nearly four terabytes overall, are stored and delivered at full 300 dots per inch (d.p.i.) resolution in an image file format called "TIFF," using CCITT Group 4 compression.... Unfortunately, due to the volume of the image data, available funding, and other technical considerations, PTO cannot convert these images to a format more popular on the Web either permanently or by converting on-the-fly as they are delivered. [ - comment by LawPundit: excuses, excuses. The USPTO is YEARS behind the times.]

As a result, you must install and use a browser plug-in.... An alternative method is to use third-party software or services to view these images either directly or after conversion to another format....

The plug-in you use cannot be just any TIFF image plug-in. It must be able to specifically display TIFF files using ITU T.6 or CCITT Group 4 (G4) compression.

The only free, unlimited time TIFF plug-ins offering full-size, unimpeded patent viewing and printing unimpeded by any advertising on Windows® x86 PCs of which we are aware are:

* AlternaTIFF: http://www.alternatiff.com/ (tested: IE, Netscape, Opera)
* interneTIFF: http://www.internetiff.com/ (tested: IE, Netscape)

For the Apple Macintosh®, Apple's freely distributed Quicktime version 4.1 or later works with our images for pre-Safari Macintosh, but does not provide direct printing capability.... [LawPundit: Gee, our Quicktime is currently in version 7.]

For Linux®, a plug-in called "Plugger" works nicely with Netscape Communicator®....

PTO cannot and will not provide direct user support for TIFF image display or printing beyond the provision of hyperlinks to known suitable free TIFF browser plug-ins....

Full-page images can be accessed from each patent's full-text display by clicking on the [Images] button at the top of the patent full-text display page. If you have a properly installed G4 TIFF image viewer or plug-in, this will bring up the full-page image of the first page of the patent along with navigation buttons for retrieving the other pages of the document. These buttons include buttons for the identifiable sections of each patent: Front Page, Drawings, Specifications, Claims, Certificates of Correction (if any), and Reexaminations (if any). [LawPundit comment: The forward and back arrows in the menu of AlternaTIFF do not to function in the version we got to run on our PC - you have to use the column menu left. A software interface out of the Stone Age.]

* Patent images must be retrieved from the database one page at a time. This is necessary since patents can be as long as 5,000 pages, and the resources required to allow downloading such "jumbo" patents are not available. Users employing third-party software which downloads multiple pages of a patent at once may find this practice subjects them to denial of access to the databases if they exceed PTO's maximum allowable activity levels. [LawPundit, commenting while falling over laughing. A denial of access for using newer technology? Unbelievable. One page at a time for patents as long as 5000 pages? And these people claim to have the competence to issue patents? Not in our book.]

* Successful printing of patent images is entirely dependent on the user's browser and image viewer software. PTO does not provide support for printing problems. We will suggest, however, based on our experience, that with most image viewers, images may best be printed using the plug-in's print button rather than the browser's print function." [LawPundit comment: Based on what we see, the USPTO should not be giving anybody ANY advice, but should rather be opening their ears TO TAKE ADVICE from the literally millions of people on this planet who appear to be more savvy about these things than they are.]
If you, as a normal web user, now download AlternaTIFF, you can view patent images only after you have installed the program as an add-on in your browser. Then you can look at the images that accompany U.S. Patent 7669123 - one at a time of course - and in a format that will make your hair stand on end.

Do we need the USPTO? Not the one that presently exists.

Should the Patent System Be Totally Revamped? Yes, Of Course. Constitutions (and their provisions) are Like Restaurants : Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

Should the world patent laws be changed in their foundation? Should we stop issuing patents for methods and for software? You better believe it.

In this regard, a posting by Mike Dorf is instructive. Our fundamental laws CAN be changed:

At Dorf on Law: Constitutions and Restaurants

Mike Dorf writes:
"[I]ssues of constitutional law are never fully settled, because they are always open to the possibility of re-examination."
Is that true? And why is that important? Who says that it is desirable that an issue of constitutional law be fully settled? And if not fully settled, is the "possibility of re-examination" the actual reason for this uncertainty, or is the actual reason to be found in the adaptive purpose of constitutions - in their role as the foundations of government - and thus in their need to adjust their mandates to changing times. A good example here would be the U.S. Constitution and the constitutional extension of the right to vote to minorities and to women. Humans drive social change and man's laws merely adjust to and reflect that change.

Further, Dorf writes:
"As Tom Ginsburg et al report in a recent paper, the average lifespan of a national constitution is 17 years. Constitutions, it seems, are like restaurants: Most new ones fail."
Is there anything wrong with that argument? Is the average lifespan of constitutions really so short, or is the problem here that governments, especially in developing countries, are short-lived? Can a constitution really fail, or is the actual failure involved one of human application of constitutional dictates? Or is the failure of constitutions in fact to be traced to their failure to keep up with the times?

To what degree has the U.S. Constitution, for example, become out of date? especially on the example of its patent provision? Maybe we should strike that clause entirely as having very little relevance to the way that the economy of the modern world is or should be run.

Facebook Awarded a Patent on Social Network News Feeds : The USPTO is NUTS

CNN says it best:
""Can I start screaming loudly about patent reform now?" tweeted Matt Galligan...."
IP Watchdog writes about the cause of the screaming which is that:

Facebook Gets US Patent on Social Network News Feeds | Patents & Patent Law

A patent on a "dynamic news feed"?

Yes, and your great-grandmother wears kryptonite green and lemon yellow polka dot Nikes with pink soles.

If there ever was proof that the entire busines of patents is just a scam of nearly criminal proportions, this is it.

Here is a sample of the invention in Patent No. 7,669,123, linked here from IP Watchdog:


Is the world mad? This patent madness MUST STOP.

Law Schools Use Twitter Because of the Immediacy of Message Delivery

How Law Schools are Using Twitter | Social Media Law Student
"Law schools are catching on. Like thousands of colleges and universities, law schools are now using Twitter to communicate with law students and the rest of the world.

The central advantage of using Twitter to communicate is the immediacy of the message delivery."

China News: Web Inventor: China Will Relax Censorship | China Digital Times (CDT)

China News: Web Inventor: China Will Relax Censorship | China Digital Times (CDT)

Don't Pan My Book, Buster! NYU Prof and Editor of the European Journal of International Law Accused of Libel for his OK of Uncomplimentary Book Review

Two highly esteemed German Law Professors write book reviews about the same book, authored by a Senior Law Lecturer domiciled in Israel.

ONE of the German profs writes a favorable review, but the OTHER prof pans the book. Ordinarily this is a "ho hum" situation on planet Earth. Your average academic book is read only by specialists in the field and has a small circulation - to our knowledge 250 sold books is already good. Who really cares? But in this case, there is a joker in the deck.

It is time to polish once more that tarnished old saying that "hell hath no fury like a woman scorned...."

At Slaw.ca, Simon Fodden in Libel Accusation from a Book Review outlines the case:
"A professor of law at NYU and the editor-in-chief of the European Journal of International Law, Professor Weiler was summoned to appear in French criminal court to defend himself against a complaint of criminal libel lodged by ... a senior lecturer at the Academic Center of Law & Business in Israel. The basis for her complaint? Professor Weiler approved the publication of a review of her book ... [a review] written by [an esteemed German professor of law], a review with which she disagreed and which [the professor] declined to withdraw upon her complaint to him."
Read the full slaw.ca posting here, and take a look at the .pdf of the correspondence regarding this case between the author of the book and editor of the journal which published the book review.

Normally, we would favor the underdog, since we are not great friends of the peer-review "crony system" and because academics in writing reviews can sometimes be scornful pundits - we are not saying that was the case here - but it does happen. In the instant case, the book review in question is not our cup of tea - but, then again - when do we ever agree with the mainstream critics? Books and their reviews are always a matter of opinion - everyone knows that. And we all have a right to our opinon.

However, after reading the statements of the book's author in the .pdf cited above, we are not on the side of the book author at all. Her statements and actions have far more greatly stained her reputation in our eyes than any possible negative statement in a book review.

See in this regard, Opinio Juris, Criminal Libel for Publishing a Critical Book Review? Seriously? by Kevin Jon Heller. We agree.

Our question to close is whether the problem here is the book author's overzeal
or rather an antiquated French legal system which is thus far permitting this circus.

Consider that the case involves:

1) a book published in the Netherlands
2) authored by an Israeli who studied in France (who may be a French national?)
3) a book reviewed by a German national
4) which review was published by an American
5) in a European Journal
6) whose main contact address is in Italy.

Read in this regard Book Reviews, Criminal Libel, and the Jurisdiction of French Courts at ConflictofLaws.net by Gilles Cuniberti.

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