European Patent Agents Go On Strike To Complain About Pressure To Approve Bad Patents
from the killing-innovation dept
One of the causes of so many bad patents getting approved lately is screwed up incentives in the patent system. For a while, the US had a de facto system where agents were pushed to approve a patent when in doubt. That’s because they were judged on how many patents they went through — and if they rejected a patent, the applicant could complain and ask for a review — meaning that the examiner would have to spend more time reviewing that same patent again, decreasing the number of patents they had gotten through, potentially harming their “stats.” Thus, it’s often easier to just “approve.” And, of course, the Patent Office itself is usually fine with this, because that means more patent applications and more fees. The Patent Office has an inherent conflict of interest in that the more patent applications applied for, the more money it brings in. In the US, after this problem was brought to light, some changes were made to decrease the incentives to simply approve so many patents, though one could argue how effective it’s been.
However, it looks like there are similar pressures in Europe, and Slashdot points out that a bunch of EU Patent Office staffers have gone on strike, complaining about the same thing: that there’s pressure on them to simply approve as many patents as possible, in order to bring in more money for the patent office. The staffers are complaining that this is harming innovation. It’s great to see workers in the patent office recognize how much harm approving bad patents can do to innovation — and actually standing up and protesting the pressures to approve bad patents.