Software

The first chart below shows the probability that a patent will become litigated for the whole USPTO (blue), commercial and business software IPC G06Q (red), and the total G06Q patent issued per year from 1990-2011. The chart tells the story pretty clearly. That is, software patents have a much higher possibility of litigation than average for the whole USPTO. Also, commercial software patenting is increasing significantly to over 3000 patents per year. In this data model probability is calculated by the number of litigated patents each year divided by a cumulative total of issued patents in each category starting in 1976. While patenting is increasing, litigation is increasing faster. The actual probabilities may be slightly higher than shown here considering that the cumulative totals are run from 1976 until the calculated year. The second chart showing the average age of litigated patents for the entire USPTO and G06Q show that…

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The uncertainty in the dragons den of software patents may be driving many countries away from competing for patents. This is perhaps bad news for the US and further evidence that software patents restrict innovation. Considering that only 12.9% of software patents hold up upon litigation ( The study was carried out by John R. Allison, Mark A. Lemley & Joshua Walker for McCombs Graduate School of Business, University of Texas at Austin). The data are actually quite staggering. The chart above shows that the US holds approximately 55% of all USPTO patents in existence. On the other hand, The US holds almost 70% of all software patents in the US and even more staggeringly 85% of all business and commercial software patents.

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Software patent policy keeps getting press for the amount of litigation rife. Many question whether the excessive litigation of software companies is hurting innovation and there are many sides to this story. Most agree the system is broken, but consensus lacks in how exactly to fix it. One example of how the system is broken involves Ceats Inc. They amassed many software patents regarding ticket selling software. However, last year a jury rejected the validity of their patents. The jury argued that prior art had already existed. Therefore there is a two-fold problem of A) The patent office ability to search for prior art or judge non-obviousness seems to be inadequate. B) If companies cannot rely on the validity of patents that have been issued, then ROE uncertainty is high and the possibility of getting sued by a patent troll would certainly deter large companies from entering into questionable markets….

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Building a USPTO MySQL Database from Scratch

Patent applications and grants are all public domain and searchable using a variety of sources (Google Patent Search, USPTO, NBER, & several proprietary sites). The problem with these sources is that they are unusable for conducting detailed patent research. Although they can help you find and read patents, and offer full-text and abstract search, they cannot compile patent statistics, or calculate indicators. It’s even impossible to generate and export a list of patent numbers based on your search criteria. In order to calculate these types of data required for meaningful research and patent management, a complete database is needed in an SQL server (MS-SQL server or MySQL for example). And while the USPTO data is available for download in a few formats, it’s no small task to download these files, parse them according to their changing format and then assemble a database. Luckily, someone has done the saintly task of…

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Autonomous Vehicles Patenting Activity

As autonomous vehicles get closer to a market reality, the patent engines will be firing up. What type of patenting activity can we see so far? Searching the USPTO abstracts for combinations of “autonomous”, “self- driving”, “car”, and “vehicle” I found a total of 271 patents. After organizing these patents into groups of their IPC class, I investigated each IPC class to determine if it is emerging or declining technology. Since vehicles such as submarines and airplanes have had autopilot functions since the 80’s there are some IPC classes such as “2D position controls” and “Steering Controls” that are already in decline. In order to find which IPC’s are emerging and which ones are in decline, I charted their growth of each IPC against it’s average over the 34 year period from 1976-2010. This is just a sample of the IPCs that I have investigated, however, it shows that some…

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