Subject: Re: Overbroad Patent.
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Date: Wed, 25 Sep 2002 15:23:57 GMT
NNTP-Posting-Date: Wed, 25 Sep 2002 11:23:57 EDT
Organization: Cox Communications
"klmok" wrote in message
> Please refer to US Patent 20020067282 issued June 6, 2002.
> Communications system for the disabled.
> The way I read it the patent says there are many assistive devices
> that are directly wired for control and can therefore be wired for
> remote control too. The patentees claim that any form of remote
> control is covered by their patent if used to by a disabled person to
> control any device useful to the disabled. These forms of wireless
> links include radio frequency transmission, infrared, sound,
> Bluetooth, and they even claim that any standard protocol used in any
> form of wireless transmission. If someone uses or modifies a cellular
> telephone, a PDA, a PC or any other platform to operate an assistive
> device they have a patent protection for the idea.
> Please tell me something is very screwed up here.
There is, but it's not what you think.
First, current US patents are numbered in the 6,xxx,xxx range, so the number
you give is invalid. Second, there were no US patents issued on June 6,
2002, according to the USPTO patent server. Third, there are no patents
issued in the past six years with the terms "Communications," "system," and
"disabled," in the title.
What you /have/ found is a patent /application/, which is just that: no
patent has been granted. The application has claims, and those claims are
expressed as generally as possible in the original patent application. The
general claims are usually challenged during examination, and are unlikely
to survive in their present form.
Here's an interesting patent for you:
For those who don't want to follow the link, it's for a new method of
swinging. On a swing. Sideways. Not sitting sideways, swinging sideways,
instead of back and forth.
I'm sure many folks will wring their hands, as did the original poster, and
decry the system that could allow this patent to be issued (unlike your
application, this is a patent). The original poster claimed that the patent
was "issued, valid, and enforcable." One suspects that enforceability hasn't
been decided, but this is usenet, and I suppose we should be grateful that
he didn't claim that the FBI was descending on schoolyards and arresting
first-graders for illegally swinging sideways.
Will the patent be reexamined? Probably not. Is it really enforceable?
Probably not. Will anyone try to enforce it? Probably not. Does it mean the
whole system is irreparably broken, and beyond all hope of repair? Probably
not. Does it mean civilization will soon slide into the abyss? Probably not.
But this is usenet, where "probably not" can be replaced with "the
government has definitive proof that this is true. It's in the same vault as
the alien spaceship at area 51."
For those who are interested in a rational, and exceptionally readable,
introduction to US patent law, pick up a copy of "Patent Law Essentials, A
Concise Guide," by Alan L. Durham.
For those who would like a brief introduction to reading patents, check out
http://www.yale.edu/ocr/inventors.html . Scroll down to the "Patent Law You
Can Use," section, and click on the "Reading a Patent" links (parts I and
-- Mike --