POPA Mail Bag
This week, some venting:
I just wanted to vent about the current state of the patent office in regards to 35 USC 101 - abstract ideas. Almost all patent applications can be characterized as an abstract idea at some level. A vast majority of claims, especially those first submitted with a new application, may be rejected with several pieces of prior art independently (i.e. a rejection may be made independently with each of references A, B, and C), which would presumably make the elements of these claims "well understood, routine, and conventional". Does this mean that all of these applications constitute nothing more than an abstract idea and are thus patent ineligible or does it just mean that they are anticipated or render obvious by the prior art? If the former is true, then indeed the current interpretation of 35 USC 101 is swallowing all of patent law.
Further, it takes hours of work, for each application, to: consult the 101 help panel, formulate a 101 (abstract idea) rejection, and respond to applicant's arguments regarding the 101 rejection. For many applications, I think that the current state of our application of 35 USC 101, as it relates to abstract ideas, is swallowing all of patent law and creating an undue burden on examiners who are already dealing with demanding production requirements