United States Patent and Trademark Office Director David Kappos has announced that the USPTO will continue with it’s plans to expand the office’s workforce in 2012. The USPTO is expected to add 1,500 new patent examiners this year in addition to 3 new senior level management positions.
The new jobs are part of the America Invents Act and the USPTO’s “Strategic Plan” to become more efficient and reduce it’s current backlog. Kappo’s plans to significantly reduce the time taken for first actions, the current goal is ten months.
Google and Microsoft have been continuing a patent war which Google claims is an attempt by Microsoft to suppress growth of the Android OS, while Microsoft alleges that Google is hoarding patents to protect Android. Specifically, Microsoft noted that Google wouldn’t participate in the recent Novell patent bid with Microsoft because those patents weren’t related to protecting Android.
Google responded to this accusation with their own accusations against Microsoft in a scathing blog post. Google accused both Microsoft and Apple of conspiring to gain control of patents from Novell and Nortel, and to keep patents from Google in an attempt to undermine Android. The Android OS is the flashpoint for this patent war, which is not surprising given that it accounts for 40% of the US market and 50% of the worldwide market.
Google also responded to the accusations by Apple and other patent holders that are alleging Android infringes on their intellectual property. Google’s legal defense is quick to paint the battle as the rest of the technology industry ganging up on Android due to its success. Seen from another point of view, though, some in the industry say that Google doesn’t have the right to accuse others of undermining it when it doesn’t own the patents involved.
Basically, if Google had acquired the patents in question it would have been a non-issue, but since these were acquired by other companies Google is accusing them of conspiracy. Also, from Microsoft’s point of view Google is undermining their business by giving Android away for free. The fact is that other companies outbid Google for the Nortel patents by banding together in a consortium shows how much these patents are really worth.
The United States Congress is in the process of working on patent reform entitled the America Invents Act. Some commentators, such as Forbes columnist Timothy B. Lee, suggest that Google is one of the leading victims of the US patent system which often hampers innovation, and the current move towards patent reform could help the internet tech giant.