I thought since its an absolutely beautiful Friday here in Cincinnati, I’d write about a lighter topic and focus today’s post on two of my favorite things – animals (and dogs in particular for this post) along with patents and patent reform. (Okay, so this post is about one of my favorite things.) Now, what you might ask do these two things have in common? Personally, I have two retriever rescues and I am a patent attorney, so that might be enough for some. But……..

Much has been said about patent reform lately. Last month, Stephen discussed some of the more substantative changes to U.S. patent law that are sorely needed and the efforts to reform this patch-work patent system we use on a daily basis.

In fact, just last week (April 28, 2005), The Honorable John W. Dudas made a statement before the House Subcommittee on Courts, Internet and Intellectual Property addressing “Patent Quality Improvement.” (Do you think this may be in response to the PB&J patent brouhaha?). Secretary Dudas proposed as a part of a strategic plan, a post-grant review addressing patent quality issues. What I would like to know since beauty is in the eye of the inventor, how does one address such a subjective issue?

I raise this point purely for my own interests since I stumbled across a news item about a dog-washing machine that could be part of a doggie spa. Its touted as “the latest canine grooming craze to hit pet spas across the country.” So, first I thought of my two dogs, Sadie and Sam, when I saw what appeared to be a dog smiling (or at least its human was) in the picture that accompanied the article. Then I saw the machine itself and began to ponder the obvious question to any patent attorney. Sure enough, there was an issued patent, (February 2004) so presumably this machine is safe and secure and patent-protected.

This brings me back to the quality issues Secretary Dudas spoke of as I tried to picture the Secretary attempting to subdue and then wash my 60 pound retriever with a hose and bucket, or picture him placing my spastic retriever in the dog-washer as a part of Sammy’s “spa experience.” This is pure quality to me.

Now, I did also have some kid put a flyer under my windshield the other day advertising his services to pick up dog “excrement” from my yard, priced out by the poundage of the dog, or was it poundage of excrement…. Maybe there’s another patent here just waiting to be drafted.

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    I am the President of The Alliance for American Innovation, LLC. http://www.AAI-USA.org. I am writing concerning the threat of so-called “patent reform” which could make patent enforcement and the collection of damages much more difficult, perhaps nearly impossible.

    A number of companies are demanding what they call “patent reform”. One such company is Microsoft, who has a rather interesting history of patent disputes, has lost a number already, and is facing the potential of up to forty future judgments. Their exposure is considerable.

    “Patent reform” is about giving advantage to well healed vested interests. It is about eliminating the possibility that some upstart could challenge those interests as Microsoft did to IBM. Just as was the case in Animal Farm, when I look at these two proponents of so called “patent reform” I can no longer tell them apart.

    The Alliance for American Innovation was first founded in 1995 and forced much of large company’s vision of “patent reform” to be abandoned and forced
    compromises to protect domestic technology producer’s interests. We shut down in 2002 and restarted when Microsoft started demanding so-called “patent reform”.

    Ronald J. Riley, President

    The Alliance for American Innovation, LLC., http://www.AAI-USA.org