Posts Tagged “pro se filing”

Technical Editor Paul Rako of EDN (formerly Electronics Design News) recently posted a blog entitled File Your Own Patents. It’s really more of a meta-post since it is only announcing an upcoming article. It starts:

My IC designer buddy Don Sauer already has something like 40 patents, mostly when he worked at National Semiconductor. Now he is working up an article for me on how to do it cheap.

Mr. Sauer’s how-to solution, apparently, is to skip the patent attorney and file it yourself. To that I say, well, hogwash. Actually, what I said in a comment to the blog was:

I will grant you that a reasonably intelligent person can certainly file a patent application pro se; anyone who can read with comprehension can do most knowledge work. However, the suggestion that one should file pro se begs two questions; are you ready (and interested enough) to invest the time to become knowledgeable in patent law and procedure to do it as well as an attorney or patent agent AND how are you accounting for the opportunity cost of the time spent (both the learning time, which can be amortized over many patents but which is an on-going investment as the law/rules change, and the time prosecuting the patent).

If the answer to the first question is NO, then we all know about GIGO. And if the answer to the second question is “Duh” or “I do it on my own time” then I suggest you haven’t thought this through.

After being a senior R&D engineer for 25 years I decided I was interested enough in IP and now have my own company acting as a part-time, outsourced Director of Intellectual Property. Most of my clients would prefer to spend their time (and their subordinates’ time) working on the invention itself and to hire someone – myself, a patent agent, or, heaven forbid, an attorney – to translate the engineering into a patent application. I would suggest this route is more cost effective for a company than to divert engineering talent to a task for which they are not trained.

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Diana Ross and the Supremes said You Can’t Hurry Love but… apparently you might be able to patent it. The TV news around Boston (see video) a couple of days ago let itself get sucked into the publicity buzz for a new matchmaking web site. The “patent pending” differentiator for this site is that it uses an analysis of your DNA when making a match. They claim that animals (including people) are attracted to mates who have different DNA characteristics than themselves. They point to many non-human animal studies but then stretch the significance of the limited human data when they use the “sweaty tee shirt” experiment (women found the body odor of only DNA-matched men attractive) and a single 48 subject monogamy study to suggest that the same DNA effect is useful for identifying good matches for human relationships – presumably something more than procreation is the goal of people using this sort of site.

The hook here is that, as the site says, its matching service is “patent pending”; specifically application 10/707,124, which is in its fourth year of pendency. The application as amended has been rejected by the examiner on several grounds and the inventor, who has filed pro se, cannot see the forest for the trees. The inventor has responded to all the easily correctable defects in his application – a misspelled word in a flow chart, using the legend “Figure 1” when there is only one figure, not including a tangible “product” of his method claim – and ignored the examiner’s rejection of obviousness in light of the prior art.

Although the examiner cited a specific article wherein mice select their mates at least in part on each other’s DNA-based scent, I wonder how any patent can be granted for any sort of “match two entities based on samples of their body chemistry”. Didn’t we figure out blood typing a long time ago, and aren’t the specific matching criteria simply the (unpatentable) observation of naturally occuring properties. Do you think any “typing” application is patentable?

What’s ironic about this rejection is that it is based on the very type of “scientific article” that the web site incessantly points to as support for its uniqueness among matchmaking sites!

I was actually surprised that this application was NOT for a “business methods” patent. That twist was picked up by another company selling DNA based perfume (see AromaMatch Patent Application). But that’s a different story.

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