Are my patent reform ideas ‘unbelievably stupid’? This reader thinks so.

February 2

(Photo by mattybravo.)

Every weekend we highlight a few of the most thoughtful comments by Switch readers during the preceding week.

On Wednesday, I made the case for ending the exclusive jurisdiction of the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals over the patent system. I argued that the patent-friendly court bears much of the blame for the patent troll crisis. WonkotheSane thinks my analysis is "unbelievably stupid":

The Federal Circuit was formed, in large part, because the Supreme Court had utterly neglected patent law. There was a huge difference between circuits and cases were often decided by who got to the court first in what district. The situation was a mess that the Federal Circuit has gone a long way to repair.

And the idea that the Federal Circuit has its thumb on scale for patent owners is pure ignorance on your part. After the Federal Circuit, fewer patents were found invalid, but proving infringement became tougher. Research on the subject has punctured the myth that the Federal Circuit is patent owner friendly. There is a significant problem with patent quality. Those who complain about the effect of such patents would better use their resources to bolster the libraries of prior art available in the patent office, particularly in the software field.

The "troll" problem is really a problem of baseless litigation where the plaintiff is profiting from the cost of litigation. Defendants know the case is lousy, but they settle to avoid the expense of litigation. More effort by the district courts in booting these frivolous cases would go a long way to solving the "troll" problem.

On Thursday, Brian Fung covered a plan by the Federal Communications Commission to "beta test" transitioning the nation's telephone network to Internet-based protocols. Reader PaulMemoli is skeptical of the idea, cautioning:

Cell phones in Fairfield County (Connecticut) were useless a few years ago when a major storm knocked out all sources of electric power. The old fashioned, tethered to the wall, AT&T phones still worked because they carry their own electricity thru the copper wires.

With extreme weather conditions on the rise, I think that it would be foolish to abandon the old copper phone lines and do away with the old AT&T phone system completely. As a communication tool, the AT&T phone system was the most reliable in the world, and the AT&T telephones were virtually indestructible.

Sometimes "progress" turns out to be an illusion.

On Friday, I wrote that a modern iPhone was more useful than $3,000 worth of gadgets from a 1991 Radio Shack. Other readers weighed in with their own recollections of long-ago computer purchases. watchingindc, for example commented:

Recently I found some paperwork from buying a long gone computer back in 1991. I was shocked at how much I had paid even in current year dollars. This was even one of those discount computers that you could buy from places that advertised in the Post Business section. You'd order what you wanted and pick it up a week or so later out in some business park.

BEEPEE describes his own long-ago computer purchase: "$3K for a pre-80286 machine with a fuzzy 13" CRT monitor and a daisy wheel printer. Another $500 for some now long forgotten word processing program."

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