Re: Expired patents

Stephan Wenger <stewe@stewe.org> Fri, 20 June 2014 07:14 UTC

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From: Stephan Wenger <stewe@stewe.org>
To: Brian E Carpenter <brian.e.carpenter@gmail.com>, IPR WG <ipr-wg@ietf.org>
Subject: Re: Expired patents
Thread-Topic: Expired patents
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Date: Fri, 20 Jun 2014 07:14:19 +0000
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Hi,

On 19.6.14, 18:24, "Brian E Carpenter" <brian.e.carpenter@gmail.com>; wrote:

>I was wondering whether there is a need for an occasional sweep
>over the IPR disclosures to tag all those that cite expired
>patents. We've been at this long enough that it is starting to
>be relevant. For example, I just noticed that IBM's NAT patent
>(US5371852) must have expired by now. It was discosed in
>https://datatracker.ietf.org/ipr/119/
>and
>https://datatracker.ietf.org/ipr/208/

The expiration date of a patent is sometimes surprisingly difficult to
identify.  In the US, for example, relevant factors include earliest
priority date, filing date, grant date, and patent term adjustment.  The
latter can be (and routinely is in certain fields) challenged after issue,
and not infrequently adjusted upwards, with the result that one needs to
study the file wrapper and correction certificates to identify the
expiration date, and not only the cover page of the patent.  That¹s too
hard for an IETF automated process to do.  It¹s probably too hard for the
secretariat.  Arguably, you want a patent practitioner do it.  As a
consequence, if the tagging were based on a timeout mechanism, then it
should be labelled such.  It would be unwise to create the impression a
patent were expired, without having obtained an opinion from a person
qualified or authorized.

What we could do is request/require rightholders to update their IPR
disclosures when the status of the patent changes.  That covers not only
expiration due to age, but also (and perhaps more importantly)
invalidation, unenforcability, and abandonment.  As this puts a lot of
work on the righholders, not to mention legal risk (false marking), I
don¹t give such a proposal a large chance of success, though.

Finally, let me note that a good percentage (a majority?) of the IETF¹s
IPR disclosures are promising licensing terms for all patents of a
rightholder¹s portfolio that is necessary to practice an IETF
contribution.  (Example from a recent Cisco IPR declaration: "Cisco is the
owner of US Patent No. 7,343,485 and US Patent Application Serial No.
10/971,523 relating to the subject matter of "SAVI Solution for DHCP"
<draft-ietf-savi-dhcp-26>.  If technology in this document is included in
a standard adopted by IETF and any claims of any Cisco patents are
necessary for practicing the standard, [...]²)  For those, there is no
expiration date to worry about.

To summarize, I like Brian¹s idea, as it potentially makes the patent
database more useful, but it¹s much harder to implement than it looks.

Stephan


>


>
>Regards
>   Brian
>
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