July 19th, 2007 by Benjamin Duranske
This is going to be a short post because there’s really not enough information out there to justify the hand-wringing that is going on right now about this issue. Apparently someone, maybe ‘FlipperPA Peregrin,’ has applied for a patent, possibly, on something that might have to do with pay-per-video in a virtual world, maybe Second Life. Or maybe not.
I’d not usually cover what may well end up being a non-story, but this one is fairly close to home. I’m a patent litigator who is pretty familiar with the patent application process, and I’m going to tell you that none of it means anything at this point, even if all the speculation about the application is true.
Patent law is notoriously complex, but here are the five things you need to know about this issue:
First, the fact that a patent has been applied for does not mean one will be granted. According to the USPTO, in 2006, only about 54% of the patent applications reviewed were granted.
Second, while patent applications are pending, they are sometimes amended significantly, and they are sometimes abandoned.
Third, as a result of amendments, when a patent is granted, its coverage is often less than originally sought.
Fourth, patent applications aren’t generally made public until 18 months after application. It’s going to be a while before we have any idea what was originally claimed.
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