Bad Ideas: Globalizing The Patent System

from the this-won't-end-well dept

It's pretty clear that Microsoft's patent boss, Horacio Gutierrez, and I don't agree on much, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that I find nothing to like in Gutierrez's new call for "global patents." I can understand where the complaint comes from. It surely is a pain to have to apply for a patent in many different countries around the world, and to deal with different local systems and responses. And, yes, there is a big backlog at the patent office, which could be alleviated if many patent offices weren't all reviewing the same patents. But, having different patent systems actually serves an important function in better understanding the levers of innovation: which is that we get to compare different approaches and that different countries can try out different ideas to see what works and what doesn't. Unfortunately, we've already lost some of that uniqueness around the world due to the TRIPS agreement, which harmonized many patent systems on certain points, and took away some of the unique features of patent systems.

We've already seen that in "harmonizing" copyrights thanks to the Berne Convention that it's been made much more difficult for countries to correct mistakes (or even admit mistakes) with overly aggressive copyright laws. In fact, it's created a situation where the only direction copyright law seems to go is towards stronger protection -- almost always under claims of a need to "live up to international treaties." If we created a single global patent system, you'd have that problem on steroids. Rather than being able to experiment and cut back on the excesses and problems of the patent system, the entire world would be stuck with a single system, and any changes to the regulations would be driven by those who benefit most from being able to abuse such monopoly rights.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Richard, Sep 3rd, 2009 @ 8:07am

    EPO

    Yes and the evidence is that multinational patent offices like the EPO are worse than national offices. For example the EPO has tended to allow s/w patents when the national patent offices have not.

    National Patent offices tend to have some democratic accountability. The EPO has less - although the European Parliament has provided some obstacles. A world Patent office would be a free for all for the ultra-IP lobby with no democratic institution to rein it in

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    icon
    Designerfx (profile), Sep 3rd, 2009 @ 8:10am

    here's an easy way to put it

    Think of global healthcare like global patents - do you think we could even agree on principle alone with every country globally? That's likely impossible.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Kazi, Sep 3rd, 2009 @ 8:23am

    It's not a bad idea actually - they'd be able to enforce their Patents in China!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    icon
    Hephaestus (profile), Sep 3rd, 2009 @ 8:24am

    Its a great idea ....

    That really is a great idea .... a Global Patent System ... what harm could be done .... /sarcasm

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    icon
    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Sep 3rd, 2009 @ 8:31am

    Re:

    "It's not a bad idea actually - they'd be able to enforce their Patents in China!"

    Careful what you ask for.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), Sep 3rd, 2009 @ 8:44am

    Amazing

    Wow. I generally think Americans get a bad rap(wrap?) abroad, but occassionaly you get a shining example of why other nations think we're arrogant pole-smokers:

    "Gutierrez's new call for "global patents.""

    Sure. A call for global patents by the patent guru at a American-based multinational corporation, one whose corporate leadership is a member of some sketchy secretive organizations. Oh, and I'm just sure that we'll be bringing all the nations of the world together with a representatively equal say in the drafting of the language of this global legislation.

    "Hey, Bangladesh, what do you think we need to include in the Global Patent Act of 2009?"

    "Uh, can we include something along the lines of all female patents must wear head covers, please?"

    What a joke.

    Oh, and another question: who inforces this? Because this global police force (as if that wasn't scary enough) had damn well better not be dominated by American, or even Western interests. It has to be truly equal and global, or this won't work. That means no United Nations, no Interpol. So what we're left with is setting up a brand new policing agency that does not answer to any central authority, but rather a conglomerate of nations that are also being policed for IP law by this agency.

    How far is that from an Orson Scott Card type of Hegemon?

    Or, you know, we could all take a deep breath and let other sovereign nations be, oh I don't know, SOVEREIGN.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    icon
    jjmsan (profile), Sep 3rd, 2009 @ 9:23am

    Re:

    Or China could enforce their patents here. In case of conflicts who would be incharge if resolving them and in what venue?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    icon
    tracker1 (profile), Sep 3rd, 2009 @ 9:37am

    Word...

    Cool, an international injunction on Microsoft Word for patent infringement could prove interesting.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 3rd, 2009 @ 9:52am

    "...Microsoft's patent boss, Horacio Gutierrez, ... new call for "global patents.""

    So Microsoft's patent boss, Horacio Gutierrez, is calling for global patents. More examples of unelected officials trying to impose their will on the masses. Who elected Horacio Gutierrez and put him in charge that he should try to impose his will on the masses? I'm sick and tired of unelected officials trying to impose their personal will on the masses.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    boomhauer, Sep 3rd, 2009 @ 10:01am

    i got an idea

    how bout a global ban on patents? now we're talkin!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), Sep 3rd, 2009 @ 10:04am

    Re:

    "I'm sick and tired of unelected officials trying to impose their personal will on the masses."

    You mean like every presidential cabinet in the history of America?

    There is little to no difference between corporate leadership and cabinet posts in this country, since people seem to move easily between the two positions as time goes on, most of them members of globalists groups.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 3rd, 2009 @ 10:05am

    Re: i got an idea

    Lets elect whoever would initiate such and lets throw those unelected officials who would try to resist such a cause out of office and out of power.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 3rd, 2009 @ 10:12am

    Re: Re:

    I want every law that's passed to be signed by at least one elected official so we can all know who to blame when bad laws are passed. This includes every patent that's approved, because patents are basically laws that are passed. None of this nonsense where elected officials delegate scapegoats like the FDA or the patent office or FCC to do their dirty work without any elected official being directly accountable. No, elected officials should be directly accountable for EVERY LAW PASSED, if that means we must elect more officials that's fine. Also, re - election for each official should occur every two years to give stronger incentive for the elected officials to serve the will of the people.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    NullOp, Sep 3rd, 2009 @ 10:14am

    Oh Yeah....

    We don't have a good handle on our own patent system and how it should work but that shouldn't stop us from screwing up the entire planet!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 3rd, 2009 @ 10:25am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Furthermore, I want FULL transparency over which ELECTED official voted for or against what law. We didn't elect the FDA, the FCC, or the patent office to pass laws (patents = laws), we elected elected officials to do that. So why do unelected officials have so much power to pass laws. If you're not elected you should have NO RIGHT to pass any law, PERIOD. That includes patents. We didn't elect you to pass laws so either GET LOST or run for election.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Kazi, Sep 3rd, 2009 @ 10:32am

    Re: Re:

    Yea, I'm playing on that idea.

    Basically, with a global system it would make it more favorable for an international company to enforce patents than a local company.

    Therefore, a large company could enforce their patents on a small company in China more easily! Thus, Chinese government would give up the ability to "control" the rulings in favor of their companies versus foreign companies.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    Kazi, Sep 3rd, 2009 @ 10:33am

    Re: Re:

    Whoever files lawsuit first? lol.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    icon
    Ronald J Riley (profile), Sep 3rd, 2009 @ 10:33am

    GOD, I agree with Mike :)

    HARMonization is a code word for turning all patent systems into a kings sport which only serves the interests of big companies. Microsoft and other members of the Coalition for Patent Fairness (aka. the Piracy Coalition) are looking to venue shop, a venue where they might reasonably be expected to exert great influence. They would not longer need to worry about Texas courts slapping their sticky fingered paddies when they tried to abuse the process of law.

    America has the best patent system in the world. All we need to do is replace upper USPTO management with people who are competent and who do not owe their souls to big business and America can start spawning new invention based businesses which are able to pay decent wages.

    Ronald J. Riley,


    I am speaking only on my own behalf.
    Affiliations:
    President - www.PIAUSA.org - RJR act PIAUSA.org
    Executive Director - www.InventorEd.org - RJR at InvEd.org
    Senior Fellow - www.PatentPolicy.org
    President - Alliance for American Innovation
    Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
    Washington, DC
    Direct (810) 597-0194 / (202) 318-1595 - 9 am to 8 pm EST.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Kazi, Sep 3rd, 2009 @ 11:03am

    Re: GOD, I agree with Mike :)

    Your post is so ambiguous and non specific that it makes baby Jezus cry.

    By what you wrote you are against big coproration patents but for small time inventors. By what you write by writing "They would no longer need to worry about Texas courts slapping their sticky fingered paddies when they tried to abuse the process of law" you suggest you are for patenting ideas instead of invention.

    Again, baby Jezus cries when he reads your post.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Vic kley, Sep 3rd, 2009 @ 11:46am

    Great idea from Horacio! Go Global!

    Basically a GREAT IDEA! And a real opportunity to treat the key source of all ideas the individual entity properly and in a way that is fair and evens the playing field

    Obviously it needs to respect the enforcement in each given country. It must also provide a three tier fee structure for Large Entities (like Microsoft), Small Entities (like Redhat or other less then 500 person firms) and Individual (9 or fewer persons and less then 1million 2009 baseline valued euros/annum).

    No maintenance fees for Individual entities until the issued patent is licensed by a large or small entity in which case all such fees are due and payable. This means the maintenance fees are based on the licensee's status (large or small entity).

    In the event that pre-issue or post issue challenges are supported by the World Patent Office (WPO) all challengers are required to provide equal representation to any Individual Entity challenged. That is if MS decided to challenge Individual entity Giggle it would be required to pay for a legal team for Giggle equal to the legal team it fielded.

    The fees for Individual entities will be less then that in any present PCT country today and not more then 1000 euros in total to issuance regardless of office actions, appeals etc.

    The WPO will include the major market countries of the world including USA, European Union, India, China, Brazil, Argentina, Canada, Australia, South Africa, Egypt.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), Sep 3rd, 2009 @ 11:56am

    Re: Re: GOD, I agree with Mike :)

    "Your post is so ambiguous and non specific that it makes baby Jezus cry."

    Plus he attempted to read your ridiculous signature and promptly pooped his cloth diaper, forcing the Virgin Mary to soil her hands cleaning up what was essentially despair poop.

    Question: how far gone is our society when we feel we must announce to people that we're speaking only for ourselves and not either other real people or the else the persistent voices in our heads?

    "By what you write by writing"

    Jeebus is whimpering again, my friend....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 3rd, 2009 @ 11:58am

    We should all...

    call 425-882-8080 and ask for Horacio Guitterez just to find out if this is an actual person.

    What messed up saliva induced, hippie parents name their kid Horacio?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 3rd, 2009 @ 11:58am

    We should all...

    call 425-882-8080 and ask for Horacio Guitterez just to find out if this is an actual person.

    What messed up Salvia-induced, hippie parents name their kid Horacio?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), Sep 3rd, 2009 @ 12:08pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I like your ideas, but I would apprecaite the opportunity to inject some additional Helmetastic regulations/ideas:

    1. The democratically elected court constructed of 9 justices called the Supreme Legislation Review Court: It's sole purpose would be to investigate laws passed to retroactively determine that they are not unconstitutional, were not created with undue favor to business/industry, and that all sponsors of the bills they are based on can pass a test on the intricacies of the law (the test would be 10 questions long for every 200 words in the bill). If any of the tree criteria are not met/passed, the law is tossed and we go back to the drawing board for them to try again.

    2. An additional constitutional amendment stating that if an elected official or official directly appointed by an official can be proven to have 3 times demonstrably lied to Congress, their constituents, and/or a member of he media within a year, they are immediately disbanned from their position and are not allowed in government for 5 years.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 3rd, 2009 @ 12:11pm

    Re: We should all...

    Don't blame his parents. Blame the mexican school system for not teaching it's students that the reason why the US has not failed is because of it's decentralized power structure to states.

    Besides, if imaginary property (IP) was structured like Real Property, and companies had to file in each of the 50 states, people like horacio could become like little gods in their own corner office and substantiate hiring hundreds of lawyers in each state, all reporting to him. isn't that what all lawyers desire?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 3rd, 2009 @ 12:16pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    No officials appointed by officials, all law passing officials should be DIRECTLY ELECTED by the people. PERIOD. Otherwise it opens the opportunity for elected officials to set up scapegoats like the FDA, FCC, patent office, etc.. to do their dirty work for them while the elected officials come out smelling like roses. Not acceptable.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    James Clavell, Sep 3rd, 2009 @ 12:34pm

    Re: Re: We should all...

    >>Besides, if imaginary property (IP)
    >>was structured like Real Property,
    >>and companies had to file claims in each
    >>of the 50 states, people like horacio
    >>could become like little gods in their
    >>own corner office and substantiate hiring
    >>hundreds of lawyers in each state

    Wow! You know, most corporate lawyers I've met would love to be the Rat King. I don't understand why he's pushing back on such a brilliant idea!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    icon
    Chargone (profile), Sep 3rd, 2009 @ 2:00pm

    all i have to say about the idea?

    let's not.

    and say we didn't.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    ..., Sep 3rd, 2009 @ 6:28pm

    We need another war on something

    This idea would not lead to any sort of trade war, would it ?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 3rd, 2009 @ 7:29pm

    This new "GPS" (Globalizing the Patent System) will take us nowhere...

    The last ten years of hot-brain-discussions on international patent law harmonization harvested nothing but utopia. Hence, this new "GPS" (Globalizing the Patent System) will take us nowhere if the vehicle running on the "global economy" road-map is not given the "green light" of a free movement of goods, services and labour associated with the "object" of the patents...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    identicon
    Mike Nelson, Sep 3rd, 2009 @ 9:04pm

    Careful what you wish for

    I'll support Microsoft's idea, if and only if Microsoft agrees that infringement lawsuits can be heard in any court on the globe. I'd like to see the punitive damages a European court would impose every time Microsoft infringes somebody else's patent. It would make MS wish they were back in East Texas.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    alternatives(), Sep 3rd, 2009 @ 11:06pm

    Its a great plan, lets have this happen.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    identicon
    alternatives(), Sep 3rd, 2009 @ 11:15pm

    Its a great plan, lets have this happen.

    And here's why.

    As each "idea" is patented, the people working with open systems will just ignore the patents. The John Robb (Global Gurellas) model of small fabs turning out parts will become the rule of the day - mass produced whatever won't be able to be made due to lawsuits and legal expenses in the backwaters of the world.

    And lawsuits over the "patents" will just draw attention to the item being sued over, thus creating demand for the software and CAD cutter paths.

    Give the giants what they want. Give them MORE than they could possibly hope for. Let them choke on their greed.

    (and the rest of you? You need to walk away from the bastards. Stop consuming their products.)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    icon
    Ronald J Riley (profile), Sep 4th, 2009 @ 5:32am

    Re: Careful what you wish for

    "It would make MS wish they were back in East Texas."

    Yep, Microsoft and other members of the Coalition for Patent Fairness & Piracy would need to buy a Chinese personal lube factory.

    Just like their patents, they would have quantity rather than quality.

    Ronald J. Riley,


    I am speaking only on my own behalf.
    Affiliations:
    President - www.PIAUSA.org - RJR act PIAUSA.org
    Executive Director - www.InventorEd.org - RJR at InvEd.org
    Senior Fellow - www.PatentPolicy.org
    President - Alliance for American Innovation
    Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
    Washington, DC
    Direct (810) 597-0194 / (202) 318-1595 - 9 am to 8 pm EST.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    icon
    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Sep 4th, 2009 @ 10:28am

    Re: Re: Re:

    "Therefore, a large company could enforce their patents on a small company in China more easily! Thus, Chinese government would give up the ability to "control" the rulings in favor of their companies versus foreign companies."

    I'm sure the companies pushing this are thinking along the same lines, but I wouldn't be surprised to see a Chinese court rule in favor of a Chinese company. I'm sure even China has an East Texas.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This