THE PROBLEM WITH PATENTS

Bert Gold bgold at itsa.ucsf.edu
Fri Jan 12 17:01:45 EST 1996



I'm posting two responses to my post which were delivered only to
my private EMAIL address (for purposes of general enlightment, whomever
he is...)

At any rate,


PERSON NUMBER ONE WROTE me (apparently on condition of not saying this
                                           publicly):

Albert Einstein had a civil service job in the Patent Office. Bureaucratic
jobs being what they are, he must have had time to read the patents. Who
knows how much they contributed to his work - directly or indirectly. 

Well now, you're being conservative here. Can't blame you; you may have or
aspire to a tenured position. Once, I read the returned final exams of a
beginning natural resources course. I read one, that received a perfect
100. (They were in the hallway; and I read everything. Since I do read
everything, I'm not sure I've ever had an original thought.) The last page
was gone; he had answered an optional question on a difficult subject.
People get a patent, when they want to protect their investment. There
ought to sabotage in the Patent Office - you know, when lots of people can
sneak in and read about other people's idea. The e time period is too long
- everything moves faster these days. 

There is a serious problems in patents.  I was the appointments secretary
for an invention company a few years ago. It's not all fraud, just for
most people who have an idea. TThere was ibe guy who had this idea for an
adjustable tractor blade. TThe wholething is a crapshoot; the ones who do
succeed are rewarded beyond their wildest dreams.   Billionaires can
only associate with each other as equals. That may have also had something to
do with the friendship of the three, you mentioned above. 



PERSON NUMBER TWO WROTE me (apparently on condition of not saying this
                                           publicly):


As a practical matter, a real problem with patents today is retaining
technical competence in the patent office in areas of rapid
technological change.  In a previous job, I consulted with the patent
office to provide training and expertise...
Of 200 examiners who took a previous course 2 years
before ours, only two still worked for the government.  All of the rest
had been hired away by private law firms!  My understanding is that the
same level of turnover exists in the ...  office

Whatever else you believe about patents, a consistent set of standards
is critical.  With that level of personnel turnover, it is amazing that
any consistent organizational policy could be maintained.  Short of
radically restructuring government pay scales, I am not sure that
there is any good solution.


Remember, these are not my comments, they are the comments of others...

Bert Gold, Ph.D.
University of California
San Francisco
School of Medicine





More information about the Bioforum mailing list