This week, together with Public Knowledge and Engine, EFF submitted written comments to the Patent Office regarding its Patent Quality Initiative. We urge the Patent Office to ensure that this program actually reduces the number of invalid patents being issued. Its quality efforts should serve the public interest, not the special interests of patent applicants.
[EFF has] written before about the Patent Office’s problem with software patents. The Patent Office does a very poor job searching for prior art and protecting the public from vague and overbroad claims. There are good reasons to think that software patents are a bad idea even if applications are reviewed carefully. But they cause even more harm when the Patent Office does a bad job. Once issued, invalid patents are very expensive to formally invalidate. Patent litigation can cost millions of dollars—an unreachable sum for members of the public wishing to reclaim property that ought to have been the public’s from the start.