New Year = Patent Reform?
The IPKat has just been reading the Patent Baristas' latest and (as usual) thoughtful post, "It’s a New Year So There Must Be Calls For Patent Reform", which flags the US Council on Foreign Relations' study, “Reforming the U.S. Patent System: Getting the Incentives Right”. Penned by Colorado law professor Keith Maskus, the report blames increased patent protection for a lack of new technology.
The IPKat is astonished. If there's a lack of new technology, what the hell has he been spending his money on? Looking around his office he sees computers, printers, digi-cameras, phones, MP3 players, broadband and wireless applications - someone must have found the prospect of increased patent protection broadly appealing. Merpel agrees, also endorsing the Baristas' final thought on the subject: "The current system only seems broken if the money is rearranged away from you".
One final point to ponder. Professor Maskus can't help being an economist, but it's only lawyers who know how the system works: it's lawyers who make the rules, lawyers who help break them and lawyers who enable clients - both patent owners and their competitors - who compete with one another.
Practical guide to patent-drafting
Book 3 of Sweet & Maxwell's EIPR Practice Series, developed under the formidable leadership of Colm MacKernan, is A Practical Guide to Drafting Patents, by patent attorney and Kilburn & Strode partner Gwilym Roberts.
Sadly the Sweet & Maxwell website doesn't seem to have any details about this book's contents, presumably on the basis that (i) the book will sell itself or (ii) its contents are so self-evident that no further description is needed. For those who are unlikely to see a copy in their local bookstore (in other words, around 99.999 percent of the world's population or perhaps more), it is a masterpiece of clarity. The subject-matter is one that terrifies many lawyers, since almost every patent claim they see is pitted with technological jargon which is unknown to them either because it relates to a technical field with which they are not au fait or because the terminology has been coined or defined for the purpose of the patent itself.
This book strips out this difficulty by focusing on the elements that are common to every patent: the legal requirements, the drafting techniques that may be used to fulfil those requirements, the interface between the technical issue of patentability and the market issue of whether what you can claim will actually do the job (eg the relationship of process claims to product protection), as well as looking at purely practical and commonsense topics such as "what to tell the inventor". In essence, this is a how-to-do-it sort of book.
Legal references are at an absolute minimum, as indeed they should be since the legal incidents of patent drafting are well - and expensively documented - in practitioners' guides, in extensive case law and so on. Here you will find out how highly skilled and heavily trained professional advisers work within the law, forming the vital link between inventor and monopoly right upon which investment depends. The absence of detailed legal analysis also makes this book highly portable: the problems faced in identifying and describing the inventive concept, separating it out from the prior art and in making clear the scope of the ensuing legal protection are faced in every jurisdiction. Accordingly this book may be profitably read even outside the home market of United Kingdom/Europe.
Bibliographic data: x + 168 pages, paperback. ISSN 1749-5083. Rupture factor: non-existent. Price £79.
The IPKat's good friend and blogger Tomasz Rychlicki has drawn his attention to Numly, a concept for tracking the use of digital works. Says the Numly website:
"Numly assigns Numly Numbers (Electronic Serial Numbers/ESNs) for all things digital. These unique identifiers enable rights statements to be associated with digital content as well as third-party, non-repudiation measures for proof of copyright via real-time verifications.Very impressive, says the IPKat - so let's see whether Numly uses its own number assignments for its own blurb and gets in touch with him to say "hello".
Numly Numbers are simple to generate and serve as an electronic timestamp of submission. They also allow you to track who is viewing your content and when it is accessed, monitor ratings, and can be used as permalinks ie. http://go.numly.com/27200-060121-189140-97! Another cool outcome of Numly is that your copyrighted content is consolidated no matter where you publish your work. We provide authors and artists with a dynamic Numly Page (or N-Page) that tracks all digital works".
Other Numly products in the same family here