‘Free State Politics’ Episode 8: Covid and schools, patent rights and SCOTUS

‘Free State Politics’ Episode 8: Covid and schools, patent rights and SCOTUS


Episode 8 of the “Free State Politics” podcast presented by MarylandReporter.com is now available to download. Please subscribe here.

It features award-winning journalist John Rydell and producer Douglas Christian, an independent White House multimedia journalist.

The 18-minute episode features interviews with Teachers Association of Baltimore County President Cindy Sexton and Baltimore County businessman Larry Porter. Sexton discussed how educators and staff are preparing for the upcoming school year, which begins at the end of the month and coincides with the rapid spread of the Delta variant and the full-scale return to in-person learning. Porter discussed how he has been impacted by a 2014 U.S. Supreme Court decision that essentially invalidated a patent he had obtained for the creation of software that expedites the mortgage application approval process.

Sexton says Baltimore County teachers are “excited” to return to the classroom and will follow all of the recommended safety protocols 

“We need to know that our educators are doing all they can,” she said. “They will be following the mandates and of all of the layers of mitigation to keep our students, staff, and communities safe as we go through this school year.”

Sexton says teachers are not required to be vaccinated, however, everyone will be required to wear a mask when indoors 

“There is not a vaccine mandate in Baltimore County Public Schools. And so that is not the case. We would hope that people would get vaccinated. We know that that is going to be one of the main ways to get on the other side of this pandemic. But, in the meantime, everybody will be masking and following those mitigations to keep people safe.”

Sexton says Baltimore County will increase the length of the school day by 15 minutes 

“Baltimore County has one of the shortest school days in the state. And it ends up being a concern mainly when we had snow days, early dismissals, and late openings…It will be instruction time for students and planning time for educators. And both of those things are a good thing for our students and our educators.”

Porter says the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USTPO) lost his patent application 

“The information that was sent to the patent office was reviewed and they came back and told us that they wanted three sentences on one of the exhibits to be removed because of the quote-on-quote ‘excessive text,'” he said. “We did that and sent it back to them and did not hear back from them for four or five months. And then all of a sudden they abandoned my patent. They said that they never received the three sentences removed from the exhibit. And we appealed and waited and nothing happened. And by the time they got back to us, which was almost seven years later-everybody was doing what we were doing and therefore my competitive edge was no longer available to me.”

Porter explains the impact of the SCOTUS decision 

“It essentially said that software was rendered abstract if it did not meet certain conditions. The abstract situation was so vague that nobody knew or understood how to make that decision on whether it was abstract or not. And so hundreds of thousands of inventors who had software no longer had patents. And therefore the industry lost a lot of inventors who were filing for patent protection.”

Porter says SCOTUS is expected to revisit the decision in December 

“The appeal is more or less giving some guidelines on how to make a decision on whether or not a patent should be considered abstract. They need guidelines. They have to be able to say specifically why it is considered abstract. And as it stands now, those methods that they are using do not make sense. And therefore it is being challenged.”

Porter says he experienced major financial loss 

“I lost all my savings. Everything that I had at the time…I had put 24 of my apartments up for collateral so I could borrow half a million dollars just to develop the technology.”


The podcast concludes with Rydell’s signature two-minute societal self-reflection: “A Moment of Clarity.”

This week the host discusses the upcoming Maryland State Fair and the political appearances that are normally associated with that event.

About The Author

Bryan Renbaum


Reporter Bryan Renbaum served as the Capitol Hill Correspondent for Talk Media News for the past three-and-a-half years, filing print, radio and video reports on the Senate and the House of Representatives. He covered congressional reaction to the inauguration of President Donald Trump as well as the confirmation hearings of attorneys general Jeff Sessions and William Barr and Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. He also filed breaking news reports on the 2017 shooting of House Majority Whip Steve Scalise and three others. Previously Bryan broke multiple stories with the Baltimore Post-Examiner including sexual assault scandals at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and a texting scandal on the women’s lacrosse team at that school for which he was interviewed by ABC’s “Good Morning America.” He also covered the Maryland General Assembly during the 2016 legislative session as an intern for Maryland Reporter. He has a bachelor’s degree in political science from McDaniel College. If you have additional questions or comments contact Bryan at: bryan@marylandreporter.com

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