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Patent Objector

Legal battles over board patents on stem cells and software.
November 1, 2006

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office too often grants patents that are overly broad or cover well-established common practices–thwarting innovation and imposing high costs on would-be competitors. So says Dan Ravicher, founder of the New York City-based Public Patent Foundation, who challenges patents by asking the patent office to narrow claims. Here’s where three of his highest-profile fights of 2006 stand.

Patent

Ravicher’s peeve

Update

Embryonic stem cells

Wisconsin Alumni Research

Foundation (WARF), Madison, WI

WARF charges high royalties to biomedical companies.

In October, the patent office agreed to reëxamine the patents.

Data compression method

Forgent Networks, Austin, TX

Forgent is suing major software companies for substantial royalties for using the JPEG photo standard.

In May, the patent office rejected 19 of the patent’s 46 claims.

File sharing between different operating systems

Microsoft, Redmond, WA

The patent makes it difficult for alternative operating systems to work with Windows.

In January, the patent office let an altered version of the patent stand.

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Illustration by Rose Wong

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