Patent Office says P2P bad for you


United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the geniuses who are keeping patent attorneys in caviar, champagne and corniches, have something to say to you: If you are using peer-to-peer networks, then you are breaking the law. In fact, they have published a study to prove something every MI3 downloading 12-year-old knows. Talk about putting our tax dollars to work.

In his foreword to the study, Jon W. Dudas, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office writes:

During 2005, when the Department of Homeland Security warned all Federal Agencies that government employees or contractors who had installed filesharing programs on their home or work computers had repeatedly compromised national and military security by “sharing” files containing sensitive or classified data. But it seems highly unlikely that any of them intended to compromise national or military security for the
sake of “free music.”

Nevertheless the 80-page study that looks at the five of the more popular P2P networks (Bearshare, eDonkey, Kazaa, Limewire and Morpheus) does have some interesting findings, which are obvious to seasoned P2P users but can be a bit of a surprise to a rookie user.

For instance, it notes that four of the programs have features that “make it far more difficult for users to disable sharing of the folder used to store downloaded files” and that the uninstalls of these programs are partial. The programs may also keep sharing files, even if users don’t really want them to.

But is this news? And something the patent office should be concerned with? I wonder why they didn’t look at BitTorrent and some of the newer networks, that are gaining in popularity.

Maybe that is the topic of the next 80-page report.


Jesse Kopelman

I think by corniche, Om meant a Rolls Royce Corniche — the back of which is a great place to enjoy your caviar and champagne. Fun fact: this car is named after a particular road, The Grand Corniche in France. Something tells me that The Grand Corniche is indeed a road that winds along the side of a steep coast.

Steve G.

United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the geniuses who are keeping patent attorneys in caviar, champagne and corniches

Om, as a patent attorney, I do not eat caviar (mostly because I couldn’t afford it), I think I might have two bottles of champagne in my house somewhere, and I had to look up the definition of “corniche” (to save anyone else the trouble, from, a corniche is “A road that winds along the side of a steep coast or cliff.”

Anyway, it’s really the Federal Circuit (the appeals courts that handles all patent appeal cases) that keeps us in business. :-)


OM- I think if you read the report – it is clear in the foreward the authors presented this unsolicited to John Dudas – and based on his initial read and his role as an undersectretary asked for a more detailed report. Why is that so bad? I deal with the patent office quite a bit both as an inventor and as an officer of my company (which owns among others a few P2P patents/patent applications). Yes they need to do better – but that does not mean such exercises as the case in point are unnecessary. Quite the contrary – when you have technologies that enable infrigment of copyrights, the USPTO which is the body examining and granting those same rights has an obligation to highlight the potential for technologies to infringe on copyrights. I think if we had more of these discourses regarding prior art, the less the opportunity for unjustified patent grants.

hank williams

I dont know how much the study cost or the intended audience, but it seems perfectly reasonable to me that the government should be telling its employees not to use file sharing networks and to provide detailed and reasonable explanantions as to why in order to maximize compliance. The issue about national security is even more troubling and, in my mind, not something to be made light of at all. I am not sure why you think this is some kind of joke.


About the term “p2p”: Maybe we should start distinguishing between the technology and the applications using it. P2P is an efficient way to distribute media. You don’t necessarily need p2p to illegally share copyright material, and similarly you can have fully legit services leveraging p2p to the benefits of users, service providers, content owners…my 2 cents.


They should be worrying more about the patent system (helping innovation or lawyers?). Also, P2P downloads don’t take 60 months.

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