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I have become convinced that the patent system is inherently unfair and hurting the well-being of people all over the world.

Trivial patents are just one well-known pain and I want them gone as much as the next guy - but can we achieve more? Shorten the duration of patents, introduce prohibitive punishment for systematic abuse, stop international treaties that force more countries to abide by the false rules - what ever helps to keep it at bay.

How can I best help this effort?

I am not going to overexert myself, I just want to do the right thing where I have a choice. Things that can be passed on as advice and make a difference.

Would it help to name "leading" companies in patent abuse? "Leading" countries? Which political parties have actually done anything for or against it? Leading persons one has to know about?

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There are very few enforceable patents in Central & South American countries. How would it change your life to live & work in a patent-free-zone? –  Dennis Crouch Sep 22 '12 at 3:53

3 Answers 3

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There are a few organizations out there whose goal it is to prevent some of the potential abuses you mention. You could get involved with those organizations by donating time and/or money. For example, see the following links:

Electronic Frontier Foundation
Public Patent Foundation

Other organizations use crowdsourcing to uncover prior art, including the website you're on right now (i.e., Ask Patents), as well as Article One Partners. You can donate time in the form of research and submissions to further the projects on these websites. While the goal of these websites is not necessarily to curb patent abuses, these types of crowdsourcing websites certainly have the potential, through the collective action of numerous individuals, to have a collateral impact on reining in patent abuses.

Moreover, provisions of the America Invents Act (AIA) allows third parties to submit prior art in pending patent applications (see 35 USC 122(e)). This way you can submit prior art and a concise explanation of its relevance to the patent office, thus aiding the examiner in doing his/her job.

Additionally, under the AIA a third party may also initiate Inter Partes Review or Post Grant Review proceedings (see here) with respect to a patent, which proceedings allow the third party to challenge the validity of the patent.

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Your answer is informative and the links are helpful. Thank you! –  Erwin Brandstetter Sep 27 '12 at 22:11

I have become convinced that the patent system is inherently unfair and hurting the well-being of people all over the world.

While that is a matter of opinion and point of view - after all, the NPEs and their legal firms are only hurting from laughing all the way to the bank - I do agree that MOST web software patents have been incorrectly granted. It DOES hurt creativity - developers are less likely to create "new" code but instead prefer to "license" existing code to protect themselves from frivolous NPE lawsuits - but I do not consider it as hurting people all over the world.

That being said, I am glad to have found this place, it provides a platform for "outing" prior art in a way that was not available in the past. Find prior art, verify and post it here. That's the best way to fight back. That I know of. Which is why I'm here. I have been a developer ever since the dawn of the "Internet", I have worked on thousands of sites, I am familiar with virtually every web method, logic and algorithm since the 90's. I see patent suits in the news and I know I have seen or worked with EXACTLY those patented things, long before they were filed. So hopefully I can help out here - maybe you can too. Read, research, post. Present the examiners with verifiable facts. Soon, with any luck, patent abuse will be a thing of the past, and we can tell our grandchildren stories of the "patent trolls of the last century".

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I fully respect your noble approach. I do think we need more, though. Fighting injustice with legal means is an uphill battle if the underlying law itself is injust. The monopolies granted and backed by government authority are often undeserved, favor big companies and last for too long. They are out of proportion in respect to fast-paced economic cycles of today. I stand by my claim that this is actively hurting people all over the world. Patent laws (and related matters) have been changed beyond recognition by powerful lobbies over the last decades. We need to level the playing field. –  Erwin Brandstetter Sep 24 '12 at 16:51

The best thing you can do is to help people find prior art and other means to challenge patents that should not have been issued. If the patent trolls find out that their tactics are unsuccessful, it will stop. There will no longer be any financial incentive for it. If the patents get struck down, then anyone who licensed said patent would be due a refund.

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