Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Patent Story 2: A peep into the Patents Act

I had originally intended to give a deeper analysis on the patent “Method of locating web-pages by utilising visual images” and how ridiculous the Vuestar’s claim was. But, now I decided against it, because:

1. I had stumbled upon a
website that had done a great job in analysing and refuting Vuestar’s claim, with some examples of prior arts. It has already covered most of what I had originally wanted to write, and much more. So interested personnels are advised to visit this website.
2. I felt that the patent itself is really not worth any further analysis. In fact, I am contemplating on sending Vuestar an invoice for wasting one hour of my life going through a worthless 29-pages article. Alright, perhaps it is not exactly worthless, at least not in the eyes of its “inventor”, Mr Ronald Neville Langford.

So, instead of writing about some silly patent, maybe I shall write about some interesting parts of our patents act.

Any person can applied to revoke a patent, according to subsection (1) of section 80 of the Patents Act:

Subject to the provisions of this Act, the Registrar may, on the application of any person, by order revoke a patent for an invention on (but only on) any of the following grounds:
(a) the invention is not a patentable invention;
(b) the patent was granted to a person who was not entitled to be granted that patent;
(c) the specification of the patent does not disclose the invention clearly and completely for it to be performed by a person skilled in the art;

Note that a patentable invention is a product or a process that is new, has a non-obvious inventive (improvement) step, and has some form of practical application. So if it can be proven that at least one prior art exists, or the invention is obvious to a person skilled in the art in that technological field of the invention, the patent can be revoked based on the “invention is not a patentable invention” ground.

Section 77 of the Patents Act is also quite interesting to note:

Where a person (whether or not the proprietor of, or entitled to any right in, a patent) by circulars, advertisements or otherwise threatens another person with proceedings for any infringement of a patent, a person aggrieved by the threats (whether or not he is the person to whom the threats are made) may, subject to subsection (4), bring proceedings in the court against the person making the threats, claiming any relief mentioned in subsection (3).

And finally, subsection (1) of section 99 of the Patents Act states that:

If a person falsely represents that anything disposed of by him for value is a patented product, he shall, subject to this section, be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $10,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or to both.

Last but not least, I urges all victims of this patent troll to come together and seek legal advices on how to deal with it.

(1) I am not a patent lawyer, and all of the above should not be taken as any form of legal advices.
(2) I am not one of the victims, or in any direct relationships with any of the victims. I am just a concerned entrepreneur who thinks that patent troll is a bane to innovation and society progress.

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