A New Record Number of Patents

This week the USPTO issued a record number 4,976 utility patent — setting an all time single-week high. As it turns out, the top-ten single week issuance numbers all come from fiscal year 2012. (The top seven come from calendar year 2012 even though we are only 13-weeks into the year).  As the PTO continues to ramp-up examination throughput, we can expect these numbers to continue to rise.  The PTO does not regularly release information regarding the number of abandoned cases and so I have been unable to confirm whether those numbers have risen in parallel.

 
Top Grant Dates Count
3/20/2012 4,976
3/6/2012 4,880
1/10/2012 4,834
1/31/2012 4,831
2/14/2012 4,826
2/21/2012 4,825
2/28/2012 4,818
11/22/2011 4,778
11/15/2011 4,777
12/6/2011 4,777

The newest group of patents include No. 8,141,114 issued to Microsoft.The '114 patent is directed to a "content rating and recommendation system." I wonder whether the claim should be considered dead-on-arrival based upon its failure to claim patent eligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. 101.  The examiner had initially rejected the claims as subject matter ineligible in a 2008 office action rejection. That rejection was withdrawn after Microsoft amended the claim preambles to include the phrase "computer-readable medium" in the system claims and "implemented using a processor" in the method claims.

The system claim:

1. A content ratings and recommendation system implemented using a computer-readable medium, comprising:

a ratings service configured to compile ratings of programs for a rating system that is associated with a group of viewers where at least one viewer of the group of viewers establishes the rating system including at least one standard of the rating system, and where at least some viewers of the group of viewers use the rating system to rate the programs for the group of viewers, wherein the rating system represents flexible characterization of the media content of the programs based on at least one of any possible descriptive aspect of the program;

a recommendation service configured to provide program recommendations to the viewers of the group of viewers based on the rating system, the recommendation further being configured to monitor viewing selections of a viewer that is not a member of the group of viewers, and to offer a membership into the rating system to the viewer based on the viewing selections of the viewer and the at least one standard of the rating system; and

a rater monitoring service configured to receive a rating of a particular viewer who used the rating system to rate a particular program and to provide the rating of the particular viewer to the viewers of the group of viewers, the rating of the particular viewer relating to a reliability or credibility of the ratings made by the particular viewer.

The patent application was originally filed six years ago in 2006.  The examiner issued a non-final rejection followed by a final rejection. At that point, Microsoft filed a first request for continued examination (RCE) and the examiner issued a non-final rejection followed by another final rejection.  At that point, Microsoft filed a second RCE and the examiner issued two more rejections. The examiner then considered Microsoft's amendment-after-final and allowed the case.  During this time, Microsoft amended the claims six different times before eventually finding a set of claims that the examiner found allowable. During this time, the examiner stuck with the same prior art rejections that were found in the original rejection with the caveat that the examiner added one additional reference to the fifth office action.

It is interesting (at least to me) that none of the three listed inventors work at Microsoft any longer.

34 thoughts on “A New Record Number of Patents

  1. Thank you to both Mela and Prof. Crouch for your replies.
    Milksem is (for good or ill) not linked in to LinkedIn, so I can’t get far with that.

    Thanks again.

  2. “The fact that you can’t even tell the difference between capitalism and a centralized government planned economy”

    Who said I can’t tell the difference? WT F did I say that would give your t ardself that impression? I mean other than the inherent t ard therein.

    Seriously? Where do you guys pull this sht from?

  3. “It was my impression from something 6 said that the patent office had discontinued allowing claims simply because they recited a CRM. I think this case indicates that that practice has not ended.”

    Technically that is the case, and the BPAI has handed down several decisions which indicate such. However, the tards in the softie waftie AU’s will probably never get the memo until a court makes the PTO higher ups get off their arse.

  4. From another post, but fits perfectly here:

    The attention you receive from the Crusaders is based on the fact that at every opportunity you are proslytizing about the evils of business method patents and how they are not supposed to be covered in the patent system.

  5. I would be more concerned about your lapses of ehtical conduct than my lapses of spelling.

    But that would just be me and my priority system (substance over form and all).

  6. Thanks Mela – I did use LinkedIn to find all three listed inventors. Each previously worked for Microsoft. Two now work for eBay and one works for a small video game company.

  7. Double Edged, all true. Even so, patent attorneys are expensive and cause delays. It might be advisable to file a quick and dirty provisional the day the client walks into the office and a more complete and professional provisional a week or two later after the patent attorney has polished the specification into a specification that would support a non-provisional application. However, if the whole purpose is simply to provide a defensive publication, the polishing is not necessary.

    Inside a large company I used to work for we had a problem. In order to file a patent application we had to obtain approval of a corporate patent committee(s) that nominally met quarterly, but at times at greater intervals.  I would hope you would agree that the delay caused by the patent committees themselves was objectionable and almost intolerable from the point of view of the race the patent office in crowded technology field. So what we did was to file provisional applications on the invention disclosures themselves immediately upon receiving them. (Of course, we also provide training to engineering to help them draft invention disclosures that would be sufficient under section 112, paragraph 1.)

     

  8. Where’s the note about the danger of medical methods, Mr. I-don’t-have-an-agenda-and-treat-all-method-claims-equally?

  9. and importantly, do not require an expensive patent attorney

    A blessing and a curse for sure, as the applicant is also bound by that document.

    The “cost” avoided by not requiring an “expensive” patent attorney is often more than offset with what that patent attorney provides. In this sense, I would advocate a bit of caution and note that Ned Heller feeds a dangerous misconception regarding provisional applications. Such should not be thought of as a cheap and thoughtless time placeholder.

  10. It was my impression from something 6 said that the patent office had discontinued allowing claims simply because they recited a CRM. I think this case indicates that that practice has not ended.

    And I would agree with you further that there seems to be something very wrong in the patent office to allow claims such as this one. I would have thought that in the case of business methods or software related inventions that the patent office would have instituted some kind of review to make sure that the claims were confined statutory subject matter. It appears that the patent office continues to fail its legal requirements to properly examine patent applications.

  11. Not to poke your eye, but I have recommended that Congress authorize the publication of provisional applications on the request of the applicant by a simple check mark on the cover sheet which waives secrecy.

    Provisional applications do not require any formalites, do not require claims, and importantly, do not require an expensive patent attorney. Whatever is published is prior art, and may form the basis of a public disclosure under the new law that removes intervening 3rd party prior art for a later non provisional patent application.

  12. Those who do not know history are bound to repeat it.

    Those who refuse to understand history are bound to keep on repeating it.

  13. Being a millenial, you should realize that you have not been taught any aspect of history or governance.

    The fact that you can’t even tell the difference between capitalism and a centralized government planned economy should scare you into reading, but, being a millenial, you’re not motivated enough to educate yourself, so you’ll just go on pining away for the wonderful utopia of socialism.

  14. > Microsoft amended the claim preambles to include the phrase “computer-readable medium” in the system claims and “implemented using a processor” in the method claims

    Am I the only one that felt this was playing a ball straight to certain regulars in the discussion here? In that case it worked real well.

  15. Figures like this demonstrate why Defensive Publication is growing in popularity.

    No company can afford to patent every single innovation.

    …or you can lobby the crrp out of congress to institutionalize the benefits of secrecy so that you don’t have to share and you get a free ride on someone else’s willingness to share.

    oh wait, we have that now.

  16. Figures like this demonstrate why Defensive Publication is growing in popularity.

    No company can afford to patent every single innovation. Yet these figures show that any innovation you chose not to patent is going to be sooner or later patented by someone else. Who can then demand licensing fees.

    So what is the solution; patent every possible incremental improvement and face bankruptcy when the lawyer fees arrive?

    Or implement a Defensive Publication strategy.

    Whenever you decide an invention isn’t worth the expense of patent protection – publish it somewhere that is searched by patent examiners and reliable in court. You’ll burn others patent rights and maintain your freedom to use the invention.

    Research Disclosure offers a publication service which is
    - Cheap, fast, anonymous
    - Searched by patent examiners worldwide
    - Reliable in courts worldwide

    http://www.researchdisclosure.com

  17. Being a millenial I suppose is going to have a person seeing the negative effects of socialism

    Fixed.

    You really need to understand the big picture trends.

  18. I’m in a bit of a bind here today. A guy who I’ve known since, I don’t know like kindergarten, but which I wasn’t especially close with at least in later years (don’t remember those first years that well) just posted on facebook that he’s homeless as of today. Obviously he’s far from me as I live in DC far from my hometown but I mean I feel like I should offer him a place to stay even so but doing so would take him away from all that he knows, that’s no solution. It does appear that others have said they’d help him out back home so it’s not that bad of a situation. But still all in all a very difficult situation, but I suppose one that is going to be happening to people more and more.

    Being a millenial I suppose is going to have a person seeing the negative effects of capitalism as well as the positive more and more. Like all up ins your face.

  19. “… to provide the rating of the particular viewer to the viewers of the group of viewers”

    Whew! That’s a mouthful.

    Quis custodiet ipsos custodes??

  20. “It is interesting (at least to me) that none of the three listed inventors work at Microsoft any longer.”

    One wonders how the good Professor comes by this information… …stalking?

    (quick check of public assignments db shows none of the 3 ever assigned apps/patents to other than MicroSoft.)

  21. “This week the USPTO issued a record number 4,976 utility patent — setting an all time single-week high”

    Wot, only 2894 of the 4,976 to IBM? Wot up, Big Blue?

  22. Because prior to 2006, years before the first POWERFUL COMPUTER BRAIN was invented, nobody ever rated anything, recommended anything, or rated people who made recommendaations.

    Our patent system is broken. Kappos won’t fix it. The Supreme Court will. At least, it’s going to keep trying.

    And the patent txxbxggers will keep crying and denying.

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