"Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he."
-- Proverbs 29:18, King James Bible (KJV)

Friday, October 31, 2014

The '99ers Patent Gold Rush Continues Unabated After State Street According to Figures Published at Patently-O by Dennis Crouch : The Patent World Meme

At Patently-O in The Number of U.S. Patents In Force, Dennis Crouch has a graphic titled "Timeseries Showing the Number of US Utility Patents in Force, Grouped by Patent Age" which shows a clear, unabated and massive rise in the number of utility patents in force, starting in the year 1999, when the current "99ers patent gold rush" began and quickly established itself as the "patent world meme".

The chief culprit for this development is of course the incompetent Federal Circuit and its absurd decision in State Street Bank & Trust Company v. Signature Financial Group, Inc., 149 F.3d 1368 (Fed.Cir. 1998), which held, in a bizarre decision, and virtually out of the blue, that computer-based systems and methods of doing business were patentable. See White & Case LLP in A "State Street" Court Decision That Could Change The Way You Do Business. State Street was one of the worst court decisions of all time and opened a Pandora's Box which has led to the patent chaos that dominates the legal world today.

Equally responsible, however, for the burgeoning patent glut is a "do nothing" U.S. Supreme Court which denied certiorari in the State Street case, making the Federal Circuit Court decision final, and essentially establishing State Street Bank as the patent law in force, and letting virtually everything be patentable.

Recent foolishly permissive and wishy-washy Supreme Court patent decisions, which allegedly "limit" State Street significantly, such as In re Bilski,  have done nothing to stem the glut of patents as the entire business world continues to take up the State Street patent meme, a happening which reminds of the frenzied 49ers of California Gold Rush days, when hundreds of thousands of gold-seekers arrived in California to seek quick fortunes, just as is being done in the patent wars of today -- where USPTO-issued patents for obvious, non-innovative state-of-art developments in all fields of modern technology continue to offer the carrot of instant millions or even billions of dollars in windfall income for clever patent applicants and holders.

If we had enough judges with any practical sense on the Federal Circuit or the Supreme Court, and if Congress were not filled with people trying to play President rather than legislating sensibly, this would not be happening.

Until then, many fortunes will be made by clever people, whose main claim to fame is that they know how to "ride the system".