Submarine Patents Alive and Well: Tivo Patents DVR Scheduling
Submarine patents are not ever likely going to be the problem that they once were prior to the publication of patent applications at 18 months and prior to the change in patent term. On June 8, 1995 the term for a US patent changed from 17 years from issuance to 20 years from filing. There is still an opportunity to obtain additional patent term, for example where the Patent Office interjects unnecessary delay into the process, but it is unrealistic to think that patents will remain pending unknown for decades, which was frequently possible and how Lemelson masterfully manipulated the system, within the rules of course. But the TiVo patent was pending for a decade, unknown and secret. That should not be able to happen and should justifiably cause an alarm.