Thursday, August 7, 2008

Careless language sinks patent

Here is a patent with very questionable claim language: Systems and methods for trading emission reductions (U.S. Patent 7,343,341) Claim 1. A computer-implemented method of promoting the reduction of emissions, comprising: registering participants voluntarily with an established entity; ... This claim (and the other independent claim) is badly constructed, making the patent unenforceable: First, voluntary is an unnecessary limitation. If such registration already exists that requires payment, it is completely obvious to have the registration be voluntary. If such prior art does not exist, there is no reason to limit the scope. Also, it is impossible to register with an unestablished, i.e., non-existent entity. Nowhere does the specification explain what is meant by an established entity. This clause more safely should read ... registering participants with an entity .... Second, after this use here, the phrase established entity isn't used elsewhere in the claims - it is synergistic with nothing. The reason for it to be in the claims: the rest of claim 1 has phrases like establishing an emission reduction schedule, etc. - all tasks presumably done by the entity. But there is no claim language that links the entity to the "do-ings", for example, ... said entity establishing an emission reduction schedule ..., which creates the synergy. This claim is fatally defective. The other independent claim 17 has the same defect. The patent is nearly unenforceable. The claim language might be corrected with a Reissue. In the eventuality of the Reissue, the assignee's lawyers should process the Reissue pro-bono :-), given the apparently slop-floppy claim language

No comments: