Made to Measure How an antiquated performance measure leads to bad patents Lee A - PDF document

Made to Measure How an antiquated performance measure leads to bad patents Lee A
Made to Measure How an antiquated performance measure leads to bad patents Lee A

Made to Measure How an antiquated performance measure leads to bad patents Lee A - Description


Hollaar Professor School of Computing University of Utah October 31 200 version Introduction The present system brPage 2br brPage 3br Gaming the measure ie brPage 4br Toward a modern system ubmi ssion of pertinent prior art brPage 5br An incentive ID: 35960 Download Pdf

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MadetoMeasure: Howanantiquatedperformancemeasure leadstobadpatents LeeA.Hollaar Professor,SchoolofComputing UniversityofUtah October 31 ,200 7 version (Thelatestversionofthispapercanbefoundat http://digital - law - online.info/papers/lah/ measure .htm Commentsorsuggestionsonthisproposalshouldbesentto hollaar@cs.utah.edu ) Copyright © 2006,2007byLeeHollaar Introduction Itistimeforthe UnitedStates PatentandTrademarkOffice( USPTO ) to bringitscurrentsystemfordeterminingexaminerperformanceintothe21st Century.Thereisnoneedtocontinuethecurrentcoarse - grained“count” system,whichmayhavemadesensewhenrecordswerekeptwithpaper and pencil,buthasnojustificationnow.Ithasbeensaidthatthemeasure determinesthesystem,andthatiscertainlythecasehere. Equallyarchaicisthepatentfeestructure,developedtomakeiteasyfor anapplicanttodeterminetheamountofthec heckincludedwiththe application.Whilethere isasurchargefor longapplications andclaimsbeyond 20,thatisonlyavery limitedapproximationoftheeffortrequiredtoexamine theapplication. Andeventhosesurchargesaren’tconsideredwhendetermi ning examinerperformance. Inarecentreport, 1 theGovernmentAccountabilityOfficenotedthatthe assumptionstheUSPTOusestocalculatepatentexaminerproductiongoals wereestablishedinthe1970sandhavenotbeenadjustedtoreflectchangesin scie nceandtechnology.OnOctober4,2007,theUSPTOannouncedthatit wouldbeginastudytoreevaluateexaminerproductiongoals. Thispapersuggestschangestoperformancemeasureandapplicationfees thatwillnotonlyimprovetheexaminers’workenvironm ent,butalsoresultin higherqualitypatents. Thepresentsystem Thecurrent“count”systemisdescribedinSection1705oftheManualof PatentExaminingProcedures(MPEP). A nexaminerreceivesonecountfora firstactiononthemeritsforanapplicati on.Thiswillnormallybearejectionof 1 HiringEffortsAreNotSufficienttoReducethePatentApplicationBacklog ,GAO - 07 - 1102,September2007. - 3 - thetimeallottedtoachievethosegoals,and50percentaredissatisfiedwit h howthegoalsarecalculated. 6 Gamingthemeasure Theoriginalcountsystemgavetheexamineracreditforeachsubstantive actionperformed.Butthat rewarded thepiecemealexaminationofan application , sothateachissuewouldbeaddressedinas epara teaction and givetheexamineranothercount.Withtheadventofcompactexaminationof applications,whereallissuesaretobeaddressedinthefirstofficeaction,the changewasmadetothecurrentsystem. R atherthanincreasethecountbypiecemeale xamination, some examiners now increasethepossiblecountforanapplication intwonewways , amplydemonstratinghowthemeasuredeterminesthesystem. First, the examinercan mak e arejection“final,”genera llyonthesecondofficeaction . Thisrequires theapplicanttopayanewfee to continue the examination.This, inturn,allowstheexaminertoreceive a countforthe dispositionoftheoriginal applicationandanotherforthefi rstactiononthemeritsofthe continuing application . Thishadleadt o new USPTOrulesthatwouldlimitthenumberof continuations. 7 Whiletherulemaking proposal note d that“Thecurrentvolume ofcontinuedexaminationfilings – includingbothcontinuingapplicationsand requestsforcontinuedexamination – andduplicative applicationsthatcontain ‘conflicting’orpatentablyindistinctclaims,arehavingacripplingeffectonthe USPTO ’sabilitytoexamine‘new’( i.e. ,non - continuing)applications,” 8 itd id not acknowledgethatpartofthereasonfortheproblemwithconti nuationsmaybe theconsequenceofsomeexaminersgamingthecurrentperformancemeasure. Andthefinalrulesdonothingtoaddressthisaspectoftheproblem. 9 Thesecondwayforanexaminertoincreasethecountsreceivedforan applicationistomakea restrictionrequirement. Eachdivisionalapplication requiresitsownfeesandtheexaminerreceivescountsasifitwereaseparate application. Somepatentpractitionersfeelthatexaminerssometimesissue restrictionrequirementstoforceanapplicantt ofileadditionalapplicationsto providetheopportunityforadditional credits forexamin ingalongorcomplex application . 10 Thatalso highlightsthedifficult ies causedby thecurrentsystem ofperformancemeasurementandfees. 6 GAO - 07 - 1102,at16. 7 72Fed.Reg.46716(August21,2007). 8 71Fed.Reg.48,49(January3,2006). 9 OnOctober31,2007,theDistrictCourtfortheEasternDistrictofVi rginiaissueda preliminaryinjunction,haltingtheimplementationoftherules.PerhapstheUSPTOwill takethisopportunitytodeveloprulesthatrecognizethatsomeofitsproblemswith continuationsaretheresultofthecurrentexaminerperformanceme asures.Thenew USPTOrulesseemtoignorethattheapplicanthaspaidanadditionalfeetocontinue theexamination,andwhenlookingattheworkloadimposedbyacontinuation,not recognizingthatthatworkloadshouldbelessthanforanewapplicationb ecausethe examinerisalreadyfamiliarwiththeapplication. 10 And,ofcourse,topayanadditionalapplicationfee. - 4 - Towardamodernsystem As theUSPTOhasautomated,ithasbecomeeasiertocollectthe informationneededtobettercreditexaminerswiththeworkthattheyhave performed.Forexample,t heUSPTOalreadycountsthenumberofpagesfor eachdocumentsubmittedbytheapplicant,asc anbeseenintheentriesforthe ImageFileWrapperofanapplication. Withtheadventofelectronicfilingofapplications,many(ifnotmost) applicants nolonger paythe fees by includingacheck withtheirapplication , butbyfurnishingachargecard number.Itnolongermakessensetohaveafee structurethatdoesnotrecognizetheeffortrequiredforaparticularapplication sotheapplicantcaneasilydeterminetheamountofachecktomailwiththe application. Atthesametimeitreformsitsinte rnalperformancemeasuringsystem, the USPTO shouldaskCongressforauthoritytochargeforotherthingswithin thecontrolofanapplicantthatrequireadditionalexaminertime,suchas voluminousinformationdisclosuresthataremorecalculatedtobury the examinerinhopesofaquickinitialingofthesheetforareferencesothatit can’tbeusedinlaterlitigation.The USPTO shouldevenconsider recommendingtoCongresssurchargesforparticulartechnologies,suchas businessmethodpatentswherethe “secondsetofeyes”programhasimproved examinationqualitybutataclearincreaseincost. Toseehowachangetotheexaminerperformancemeasuresandthefees chargedtoapplicantscanprovidesubstantialbenefitsoverthecurrentsystem, considert hesubmissionofpertinentpriorartbytheapplicantandtheeffectof timeandnatureofclaimsduringtheprosecutionofapatentapplication. S ubmi ssionof pertinentpriorart Foratleast threetimesin2006,theUSPTO has triedtoimposea requiremen tforanapplicanttocharacterizethepriorartsubmittedalongwith anapplicationfortheexaminertoconsiderand,infact,arguewhythe inventionasclaimedispatenta bleinlightofthatpriorart. Thefirsttimewasaspartoftheproposed “Changes toPracticeforthe ExaminationofClaimsinPatentApplications ,” 11 wheredocumentdescriptions arerequiredaspartoftheExaminationSupportDocumentrequiredwhenthere aremorethanten representative claimsselectedforinitialexamination. Itshowe dupagaininthe“ ChangestoPracticeforPetitionsinPatent ApplicationsToMakeSpecialandforAcceleratedExamination,” 12 where documentdescriptionsarerequiredaspartoftheAcceleratedSupport Documentthatmustbefiledinordertojumptotheh eadofthemulti - year backlogofpendingapplications,oratleastgototheendoftheother applicationsthathavecutinlinebymeetingalltherequirementsfor “accelerated”examination. Finally,under “ChangestoInformationDisclosureStatement Requ irementsandOtherRelatedMatters , ” 13 documentdescriptions wouldbe 11 71Fed.Reg.61(January3,2006). 12 71Fe d.Reg.36323(June26,2006), 13 71Fed.Reg.38808 ,(July10,2006). - 6 - haveanincentivetosubmitthemostpertinentpriorart(togettheheightened deference) and also adisincentivenottrytoburytheexaminer inpriorart (becausetheywillbepayingforthevolumetheysubmit) . Th esubmissionfees andperformancecreditswillgive theexaminerthetimetoreadandunderstand everydocumentthattheapplicantsubmits. Applicants can alsobenefitfrom providingadescriptionofthesubmittedart,notonlyinasasubstantially - reduce dsubmissionfeebutalsoinhavingtheircharacterizationinfluencethe examiner’sfact - findingwithrespecttothesubmittedart. C laim ingto aidprosecutionefficiency T heUSPTOhasnoted that“applicationswhichcontainalargenumberof claimscontinu etoabsorbaninordinateamountofpatentexaminingresources, astheyareextremelydifficulttoproperlyprocessandexamine. ” 16 But even thoughtheUSPTOcollects additionalfeesforapplicationswithmorethan twentyclaimsorthreeindependentclaims, theydon’tcredittheexaminerfor theextrawork. Surprisingly,thereisnochargemadewhenanexamined - and - rejected claimisreplacedbyanewclaim ,eventhoughthismayrequireacompletely newsearchbytheexaminer(unlesstheexaminercanissuea finalofficeaction andmaketheapplicantpayforcontinuedprosecution). A ndexceptforthedistinctionbetweenindependentanddependentclaims, thereisnodifferenceinthefeeforaclaimregardlessofwhetheritsformmakes examinationmoredifficul t. Forexample,a Markush - typeclaim may requirethe searchingforpriorartforallthealternativesgivenintheclaimelementthat hasalternatives,yetitistreatedasanyotherclaiminsteadofrecognizingthe extraworkrequiredasisdoneforamul tipledependantclaim. 17 Again,while thismadesensewhenitwasnecessarytohaveasimplifiedfeesystemsothat anapplicantcoulddeterminetheamountofthechecktomailwiththe application,thismakeslittlesensetoday. Specialtreatmentforafter - allowanceclaims TheUSPTOhasnoted: The Office’scurrentpracticeforexaminationofclaimsinpatent applicationsprovidesforaninitialexaminationofeachandevery claim,independentanddependent,ineveryOfficeactiononthe meritsoftheapplic ation.TheOffice’scurrentpracticefor examinationofclaimsinpatentapplicationsislessefficientthan itcouldbebecauseitrequiresaninitialpatentability examinationofeveryclaiminanapplication,notwithstanding thatthiseffortiswastedw henthepatentabilityofthedependent claimsstandorfalltogetherwiththeindependentclaimfrom whichtheydirectlyorindirectlydepend.Thus,theOfficeis misunderstandingleadtotheheightenedevidentiaryrequirementinpatentlitigation,” http://digital - law - online.info/papers/jk/unclear.htm . 16 71Fed.Reg.at62. 17 TheUSPTOhasrecognizedthisproblem,proposingnewrulesdirectedat Markus - typeclaimsandotherclaimsthatstatealternativesthatrequireadditionalsearchi ng. See72Fed.Reg.44992(August10,2007). - 8 - However,oncethepatentabilityoftheoverallsystemhasbeendetermined, theexaminationofclaimsforthecomponentsisstraightforward,particularlyif theclaimsarewritteninafo rmthatincorporatesthesamelimitationsofthe overallsystemclaims. W hiletheexaminerperformancemeasureshouldbeexpandedtoconsider thenumberofclaimsreviewedbytheexaminerduringtheprosecutionofthe application,becauseofthereducedwo rkfortheexaminerinhandlingafter - allowanceclaims,theyshouldonlyresultinareducedcreditwhencomparedto claimsbeingactivelyprosecuted. Examinationofclaimsets Thereisanotherreasonwhydependentclaimsarepresentedinan application,o nlypartiallyrecognizedbytheUSPTO“representativeclaim” proposal. Theycansubstantiallyaidintheprosecutionoftheapplicationby proposingarangeofalternativesforthebroadestscopeofthepatent,and allowingtheexaminertoindicatewhereh eorshewoulddrawthelinegiventhe priorartlocatedasthefirstofficeactionisbeingprepared. TheUSPTOproposaldiscourage d thisbyrequiringthatanydependent claimsthatarepartofsucha“claimset”bedesignatedasarepresentative claimto beexamined andcounttowardthetenrepresentativeclaimsthatare allowedtobedesignedbeforetheburdensome“examinationsupport document.” Efficiencyinexamination Thisdoesnotrecognizehowaclaimset canbeefficiently examined. Dependentclaim s include additionallimitations andtherefore require additionalsearchingbytheexaminer . Butt he examiner needonly searchfor priorartthatwouldcausetherejectionofthe last,and narrowest ,dependent claim ofth e claimsetandifsuchartwasnot found,determinefromthe referenceswhetheranyofthebroaderclaimsintheset are patentable. Theexaminerwouldindicatethisbyrejectinganyclaimthatis unpatentablebasedonthepriorartfoundinthesearch,butonlyobjectingto thedependent claimsthatwouldbepatentableoverthefoundpriorartand indicatingthattheclaimwouldbepatentableifrewrittenasanindependent claimincorporatingallthelimitationsoftheclaimsonwhichitdepends ,asis alreadythepractice. 20 Theapplicant wouldthencopythoselimitationsintothe dependentclaimandhavethatnewindependentclaimallowed. Ifapplicantsthoughtthattheexaminerhaddrawnthelinetoostrictly, theycouldthenreplybasedonthedifferencesinscopebetweentheallowable a ndrejectedclaimsandhowthoseareaddressedinthepriorart.Ifitwas desirabletoreceiveapatentquickly,theclaimsincontentioncouldbe cancelled,allowancetakenafterrewritingtheobjected - toclaim,anda continuingapplicationfiledcontain ingtheclaimsincontentionandaterminal disclaimer. ThisisexactlythetypeofefficientprosecutiontheUSPTOshouldbe encouragingthoughthefeesforclaims. Aspecialfee,lessthanthecostofa independentclaimandthedependentclaimsinthed esignatedclaimsetshould begivenforeachclaimsetdesignatedbytheapplicant. 20 SeeMPEP608.01(n)V. - 9 - Replacingmostdivisionalrequirements Theuseofclaimsetsforefficientexaminationcouldsubstantiallyreduce theneedformanyrestrictionrequirements,wheretheexam inermakesthe applicantprosecuteonlyasubsetoftheinitialclaimsandfiledivisional applicationsfortheremainingclaims.Somehavesaidthatthecurrentcount systemencouragesthisasawayforanexaminertogetnotonlytwocountsfor theorigi nalapplication,buttwocountsforeachdivisionalapplication. T hemostcommonrestrictionrequirementiswhentwoformsofthesame inventionareclaimedwithoutalsoclaimingonlythecommonelementsofthose forms(speciesclaimswithnogenusclaim), orwhentwodifferentclassesof inventionareclaimedsuchasacompositionofmatterandaparticularmethod ofusingthatcompositionofmatter. Forexample,arestrictionrequirementmaybeproperifoneclaimhas elementsA,B,andCandanotherclai mhaselementsA,B,andD,butonlyif thereisalsonotaclaimwithelementsAandB.ButwhethertheA,Bclaimis presentornot,theexaminerhastosearchforpriorartforboththoseelements anduse s theresultsforexaminingboththeA,B,Candthe A,B,Dclaims.The requirementfordivisionalapplicationstoincreasefeesandprovideadditional creditfortheexaminerisfartoocoarse - grained. Theuseofclaimsetscanprovideanalternativetorestriction requirementsasawaytoincreasefeesand examinercounts.ClaimsA,B,Cand A,B,Dwouldbeindifferentclaimsets,andrequireseparatefees.(Theclaimset includingA,B,CcouldbeindependentclaimA,dependentclaimA,BaddingBto claimA,anddependentclaimA,B,CaddingCtoclaimA,B.) T h ereshouldbe somereductioninthefeesrecognizingthatbothclaimsAandA,Barepartof bothclaimsets. AproblemfromtheFederalCircuit Butthatmanynotbeenoughtoencouragethishelpfulwayofclaiming. UndertheFederalCircuit’sopinionin Ho neywellv.HamiltonSundstrand , 21 restatingadependentclaiminindependentformbysimplycopyingallthe limitationsofitsparentclaimsisanarrowingamendment,andthereforea surrenderofthedoctrineofequivalents. Thisproblemcanbeavoidedbyw ritingalltheclaimstobeconsideredin independentform(andpayingaslightly - higherfee) , since cancellationofclaims notpatentable should notprejudicetheallowableindependentclaims,which wouldhaveapossiblescopeundertodoctrineofequival entsuptotherejected claims.Buttheexaminationiscomplicatedbecausetheexaminermustnow determinehowoneindependentclaimdiffersfromanother.Ifoneissimplya copyofanotherwithalimitationadded(aswouldbethecasewithadependent cla im),thenthisonlyrequiresaword - for - wordchecktodeterminewhathas beencopied.However,iftheclaimisstated somewhat differently,itmayrequire aseparatesearchstrategyonthepartoftheexaminer. TheUSPTOshouldworkwithotherinterestedp artiestohaveCongress legislativelyoverturntheFederalCircuit’s Honeywel ldecision,becausethe advantagetothelong - standingpracticeofusingdependentclaimstomake examinationmoreefficientshouldbepromoted,notpenalized. 21 370F.3d1131,71USPQ2d1065(Fed.Cir.2004). - 11 - theotherclassesthroughsimpledependentclaims isused.Forexample,if claim1isintheform: 1.Amethodoperatingonadigitalcomputer,themethod comprising: [Steponeofthemethod]; [Steptwoofthemethod]; . . .;and [Thelaststepofthemethod]. Then,withboilerplatesupporti nthespecifications,theapparatusand articleofmanufacturecanbeclaimedas: 2.Adigitalcomputersystemprogrammedtoperformthemethod ofclaim1. 3.Acomputer - readablemediumstoringacomputerprogram implementingthemethodofclaim1. T hecla imsareclearlypresentedinawaythathelpstheexaminerby highlightingthepatentableaspectsbeingclaimed(theparticularmethod)and requireslittleadditionalworkfortheothertwostatutoryclasses.Suchclaiming sho uldbeencouragedbytheUSPTO ,perhapsbynotcharging for dependent claimsintheformabove. Suchclaimsoutwardlyresemble“product - by - process”claims: 1.Amethodformanufacturing[product],themethod comprising: [Steponeofthemethod]; [Steptwoofthemethod]; . . . ;and [Thelaststepofthemethod]. 2.Theproductoftheprocessofclaim1. However,whilethecross - classclaimsforthesoftwaretechniquerequire noadditionalsearchandonlyneedtobeexaminedastoform,becausetheir noveltyandnonobviousnes sdependsolelyonthemethodclaim,theoppositeis trueforproduct - by - processclaims.AsnotedintheMPEP,“Thelackofphysical descriptioninaproduct - by - processclaimmakesdeterminationofthe patentabilityoftheclaimmoredifficult,sinceinsp iteofthefactthattheclaim mayreciteonlyprocesslimitations,itisthepatentabilityoftheproductclaimed andnotoftherecitedprocessstepswhichmustbeestablished.” 25 However,newUSPTOrulesactuallypenalizethisformofclaimingby treatin gsuchdependentclaimsasiftheywerereallyindependentclaims. 26 Thatmeansthatsuchdependentclaimswouldbecountedtowardthefive independentclaimsbeyondwhichanexaminationsupportdocumentmustbe filed,notjusttowardthe25totalclaims. 27 Whilebothtypesofcross - classclaimsaredependentclaimsnowentitled toalowerfee,clearly,theUSPTOshouldchargemore,andprovideappropriate 25 MPEP2113,citing InreBrown ,459 F.2d531,535,173USPQ685,688(CCPA1972). 26 New35CFR1.75(b)(2),secondsentence. 27 TheUSPTOseemedtoignorethisproblemforsoftware - basedinventionsandtheease inwhichitcanbesolvedwithlittleextraworkfortheexaminer,insteaddiscoun tingthe burdensomeeffectoftherequirementforanexaminationsupportdocumentinlimiting thenumberofclaimsanapplicantwillfile.SeeResponsetoComment202,72Fed.Reg. 46794. - 13 - Finally,Congressshould statutorilyoverruletheFederalCircuit’s misguide d decisionin Honeywellv.HamiltonSundstrand byamendingSection 112tomakeitclearthatamendingadependentclaimbyincludingthe limitationsofitsparentclaimsdoesnotaffectdoctrineofequivalents considerations.Thiscouldbedone,forexampl e,bychangingthelastsentence ofthefourthparagraphtoread:“ Aclaimindependentformshallbeconstrued toincorporatebyreferenceallthelimitationsoftheclaimtowhichitrefers ,and anylaterincorporationofthoselimitationsintheclaims hallnotbe considered a n arrowing amendmentofthe claim .” Conclusion Thepresentstatutoryfeestructureandexaminerperformancemeasureis anartifactoftheneedforsimplicitynolongerjustifiedwhencomputerstrack allthematerialsubmittedbythe applicantandcreditcardsareusedto authorizefeepaymentratherthanhavingtodeterminethefeeandattacha checktotheapplication. ButmanyoftheproblemsthattheUSPTOistryingtoaddressthrough recentrulemakingproposals,suchasexcessive claimsandcontinuationsor havingtheapplicantsupplyandcharacterizeprio rart,don’trecognizethat those problemsareartifactsofthecurrentfeestructureandperformance measures. Sincethemeasureoftendeterminesthesystem,therealsolutioni s goingtomeasures – feesandperformancecounts – thatpromotemoreefficient andbetterexamination.

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