February 18, 2013

Bob Stoll Op-Ed Published in The Seattle Times

Washington, D.C., partner Bob Stoll wrote a guest column for The Seattle Times titled, “U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Examiners Need Time to Ramp Up.”

Bob noted that for the past few years, patents have been under attack from many quarters, including the U.S. Supreme Court, academics and economists. He said the passing of the America Invents Act in 2011 signaled changes to the patent system demanded by the legislative branch and that this attention “is the focus of the nation on the esoteric issue of patents like never before.”

As for the future, inventors in the sectors of gene sequences, software, diagnostic methods and personalized medicine don’t have long histories of patenting in these fields, since these industries are relatively new themselves.

Bob advocated that approaching these new technologies as the Patent Office did in the field of business methods “might well be the answer.” In that case, the flood of new patent applications in the area of business methods, as a result of the decision in State Street Bank, required experienced patent examiners to develop skills in the subject matter and hire more individuals who were familiar with business methods.

“Comprehensive databases were painstakingly developed. Applications in the field were intensively quality inspected. And, the quality of patents issued in the business-method arena improved dramatically,” said Bob.

“We need to give the Patent Office more resources to do a better job examining the cases in these emerging technologies,” he said.

He said the focus should be on “further improving the quality of our issued patents, which have known benefits, before we undertake to experiment with new modalities for patents, which could have disastrous effects for our country.”

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