Patent reform still elusive
Minerva’s patent award shows little progress has been made
In recent months, there’s a camera and microphone, it sure looks like it should.
been a lot of talk about patent uses memory cards, can play It took me only minutes to
reform. On top of that, last and manage multimedia find articles from 1996 and
year saw a major Supreme files, and does everything else earlier that discussed smart
Court decision that should that smart phones have been phones that did everything
make it much harder to get doing for more than 10 years. the Minerva patent (which
and hold patents based on So basically it is the king of was filed in 2000) claims.
ideas that were clearly obvious overly broad patents and essen- Heck, I tested and used
to practitioners in the given tially applies to every cell phone smart phones that did most
technology field. But so far, it in existence today. Within of these things before 2000.
looks as if all this talk about minutes of getting the patent, But just because a patent
reform and improvements Minerva filed lawsuits against seems likely to be thrown
has been just that—talk. pretty much every major player out doesn’t mean it will hap-
That’s because, when it in the smart-phone market, pen. Everyone, including the
comes to stupid, damaging and overly broad patents
awarded by the U.S. Patent
and Trademark Office, recent The USPTO outdid itself
evidence shows it’s still busi- by granting a whopper of
ness as usual. And On Jan.
22, the USPTO outdid itself an overly broad patent.
by granting a whopper of an
overly broad and obvious patent. In terms of potential dam- including Apple, RIM, Nokia, USPTO, said the NTP patent
age to technology markets, this Sprint and AT&T. should be thrown out, but that
one looks nearly as bad as Brit- When you look at the didn’t stop RIM from having to
ish Telecom’s patent claim to potential damage this patent pay out more than $600 mil-hyperlinking in the mid-1990s. could cause, it boggles the lion just to stay in business.
The company awarded this mind: It could easily dwarf So instead of enjoying the
patent is Minerva Industries. that of the NTP patent that fruits of technical innova-Minerva holds patents on nearly shut down RIM’s tion and looking forward to
everything from cell phones BlackBerry system. new and exciting products,
to car seat belts. But cell Strangely, no one has paid we have to once again watch
phones are the key area in the much attention to this pat- valuable resources and effort
recent patent that Minerva ent so far. Maybe it’s because being wasted to fight a pat-received. And the company’s we’ve all become so used ent that should have never
patent claim is a doozy. to stupid patents getting been granted. ´
The patent that the USPTO awarded. Maybe it’s because
awarded to Minerva is for a it seems so obvious this Chief Technology Analyst Jim
cell phone that connects to patent will get thrown out. Rapoza can be reached at
the Internet wirelessly, has From a prior-art standpoint, firstname.lastname@example.org.