More Patent Reforms Designed To Make The System Worse

from the does-no-one-think-these-things-through? dept

Joe T. Bradley writes “President Bush, as part of his 2007 fiscal budget, has revived the proposal that the Patent Office be allowed to keep all the fees it collects. Since the USPTO makes a profit, the government has been siphoning off money for years, and many critics claim that letting them keep the money will improve our patent woes. But not so fast, say some: ‘If the USPTO relies only on funding from patent applicants, it is beholden to no one but patent holders, and becomes the poster-child example of regulatory capture.'” This is another bad idea from folks who clearly aren’t thinking through the real problems at the root of the patent system. This is a “throw more money at the problem” type of solution, without any consideration for the unintended consequences it will lead to. Besides simply encouraging more patents (and more patent applications) it’s based on the fundamentally false idea that the patent system can be solved by hiring more patent examiners. The problem, though, is that patent examiners don’t scale — and any system that encourages more patents will overwhelm however many new patent examiners are hired. The patent system needs to focus on making sure that fewer, better patents are granted — not more problematic patents.

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Comments on “More Patent Reforms Designed To Make The System Worse”

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Don Gray says:

Correct me if I'm wrong, but...

Is this just another example of Bush’s seemingly non-existent grasp of finance?
I’m a conservative and felt forced to vote for the lesser of two evils, but I’m starting to think I should vote democrat so the republicans can actually grow a spine and rein somebody in…
This guy spends money like a drunken sailor on shore leave.
The patent office “makes a profit” because there is no direct correlation between the number of patents filed and the budget it is given, by congress, to work with. If the number of patents doubled, the “profit” would rise dramtically based on past history, because congress wouldn’t allocate any more budget for operations.
I’m sure this math appeals to those MBAs who see thre world through Excel colored glassses but it is, as Mike points out, only going to lead to more problems, not less.

Lawrence B. Ebert says:

Fee diversion at the USPTO

Public Law 108-447 mandated that the USPTO reach a level of 5,848 positions for examination and searching. In fiscal year 2005, the USPTO hired 900 new examiners, but 428 left, and the USPTO was not in compliance with the Congressional requirement.

In the absence of spending some money, there aren’t going to be enough examiners and there won’t be sufficiently experienced examiners. The backlog of unexamined applications will continue to grow.

Fee diversion (under Clinton) was a budget gimmick, and should be ended.

Lawrence B. Ebert says:

Patent examiners don't scale?

The post asserting “patent examiners don’t scale” also referred to the possibility of peer review for patents:

This certainly suggests that a system of peer reviewed patents that allowed various experts in the field to weigh in on patents could work better.

Some posts suggesting that peer review would be bad for the Patent Office:

And, if you want to go further back than Hwang-gate, the 2005 Nobel, and Jan-Hendrik Schon, check out how the Royal Society “reviewed” the papers of Benjamin Franklin back in 1750.

Peer review won’t work. Further, examiners do scale.

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