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Another bad USPTO software patent

MS patents ‘phone-home’ failure reporting.

There’s a catch, in that it’s not just plain old ‘phone home’, as seen in probably a hundred products since 1960 — they’ve added a ‘match the reported error messages against a db of known issues on the server side’ step. So that’s vaguely inventive — well, no, it’s totally obvious, but at least nobody I can think of off the top of my head has done that before. (Well, I lie, it sounds a bit like KDE’s crash reporting tool which does a similar search before reporting a bug.)

The notable comment, though, is

There is a significant institutional culture issue that has a strong influence on how the Office functions that took root several decades ago and has, regretfully, increased, monotonically, over time. The management attitude, in a nutshell, is that patents aren’t ‘examined’, they are ‘processed’. The examination process is driven by production ‘goals’; to be rated in the key rating category of ‘Production Goal Achievement’ as ‘fully successful’ you must have at least 95%; less than that you are marginal; less then 90% you are ‘unsatisfactory’, meaning your entire rating is ‘unsatisfactory’ meaning a ’90 day letter’ to get it ‘fully successful’ else you are fired. Also there are other time related requirements to meet, such as no amended application pending more than two months without an action. Persons get fired (yes, this does happen) almost always for low production or exceeding time limits for actions, almost never for improperly allowing claims.


Tech: It seems it’s stunningly easy to rip off GPRS customers. Another well-designed system I don’t think.