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Patent Re-Examination of Compton's Clarified

January 16, 1994

There is intense industry and media interest ("Government to Re-Examine Patent Award to Compton's," Dec. 17) in my decision to order a re-examination of a patent awarded to Compton's New Media in August, and I would like to make sure everyone is clear about why my decision was made.

The multimedia industry's reaction to Compton's multimedia patent did not spur re-examination of the patent. Rather, the industry reaction led to a review of the patent.

During the review, prior art (any invention or publicly available information in the field of the invention) was found that had not been considered during the first examination of the patent. It was on the basis of this newly discovered prior art that I determined a re-examination was in order.

In the story on the re-examination, your reporter quotes me as saying that "the Bush people said that there was no problem, but there clearly is a problem with the Compton's multimedia patent." This is not an accurate statement, as the Compton patent was awarded after the Bush Administration had ended.

What I was telling the reporter was that the Bush Administration had no problem overall with the issuance of patents for computer software-related inventions. I believe there are concerns regarding these inventions that need to be addressed.

In an effort to do this, the Patent and Trademark Office is sponsoring public hearings in January in California (Jan. 26-27, San Jose Convention Center) and in February in Virginia to seek input on whether changes in the framework of intellectual property laws used to protect software are appropriate. All interested parties are invited to testify and-or supply written comments.



Lehman is assistant secretary of commerce and commissioner of patents and trademarks.

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