UK Judges Think US Makes It Too Hard To Get Patents, Lower Patentability Bar To Show How It's Done

from the you-mean-we-need-even-more? dept

The US patent system famously covers “anything under the sun that is made by man,” and is generally regarded as being more “patent friendly” than other jurisdictions around the world. So it comes as something of a surprise to hear of the UK out-doing the US is this respect:

In a unanimous decision, the [UK Supreme] court determined that US utility doctrine creates an unduly high bar of patentability.

The reasoning ? or rather lack of it ? is just as surprising:

Thus, rather than requiring proof of specific, credible, and substantial utility at the time of filing, the UK court agreed that HGS’s genetic sequence coding for Neutrokine-α was patentable even though there was no known use of the protein at the time the patent application was filing. The patent did not reveal how the protein “could be used to solve any particular problem” nor did it identify “any disease or condition which it could be used to diagnose or treat.”

It’s bad enough that naturally-occurring genomic sequences are being patented at all ? sequences that certainly weren’t invented by anyone. But allowing those patents without even requiring “proof of specific, credible, and substantial utility at the time of filing” is just insane: it will open the floodgates for even more speculative filings on DNA sequences in the hope that someone, someday will come up with a use for them. Except that if they did, they’d presumably be hit with a patent infringement suit. So how does that promote innovation?

The other danger, of course, is that the US judges might feel that their honor is a stake, and lower the US patentability bar even further to undercut those presumptuous British lords…

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Comments on “UK Judges Think US Makes It Too Hard To Get Patents, Lower Patentability Bar To Show How It's Done”

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BentFranklin (profile) says:

If all you’re patenting is a gene sequence, shouldn’t it should be copyrighted instead? Here’s my sequence:


? 2011 BentFranklin

timmaguire42 says:

Promoting Innovation is an American concept

The public good is an American concept. European IP has a completely different philosophical foundation, which is why the U.S. didn’t used and still shouldn’t pay any attention to what Europe is doing when it decides what it will do.

Bad as it may be, our system is better. And it shows in the statistics. They should be learning from us, not the other way around.

fogbugzd says:

Re: Response to: Anonymous Coward on Nov 14th, 2011 @ 2:45pm

I have thought much the same.–this kind of action just starts the 17 year calendar early. But there are two problems with this line of reasoning. First, patent attorneys just ignore inconvenient prior art. Second, whoever does come up with an actual use will patent the new sliver of invention.

A Guy (profile) says:

The fact you can patent a human gene is completely asinine period, of course.

It’s not engineered (although it can be), it’s a naturally occurring resource like oil, trees, and fish.

The fact that you saw a species of fish or tree first doesn’t mean you get a monopoly on it.

The first person who saw some oil didn’t get a patent on all petroleum products.

It seems like a bad farce to me.

staff says:

another biased article

“US Makes It Too Hard To Get Patents”

Inventors agree.

Masnick and his monkeys have an unreported conflict of interest-

They sell blog filler and “insights” to major corporations including MS, HP, IBM etc. who just happen to be some of the world?s most frequent patent suit defendants. Obviously, he has failed to report his conflicts as any reputable reporter would. But then Masnick and his monkeys are not reporters. They are patent system saboteurs receiving funding from huge corporate infringers. They cannot be trusted and have no credibility. All they know about patents is they don?t have any.

“patent reform”

?This is not a patent reform bill? Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) complained, despite other democrats praising the overhaul. ?This is a big corporation patent giveaway that tramples on the right of small inventors.?

Senator Cantwell is right. Just because they call it ?reform? doesn?t mean it is. The agents of banks, huge multinationals, and China are at it again trying to brain wash and bankrupt America.

They should have called the bill the America STOPS Inventing Act or ASIA, because that?s where it is sending all our jobs.

The patent bill is nothing less than another monumental federal giveaway for banks, huge multinationals, and China and an off shoring job killing nightmare for America. Even the leading patent expert in China has stated the bill will help them steal our inventions. Who are the supporters of this bill working for??

Patent reform is a fraud on America. This bill will not do what they claim it will. What it will do is help large multinational corporations maintain their monopolies by robbing and killing their small entity and startup competitors (so it will do exactly what the large multinationals paid for) and with them the jobs they would have created. The bill will make it harder and more expensive for small firms to get and enforce their patents. Without patents we cant get funded. Yet small entities create the lion’s share of new jobs. According to recent studies by the Kauffman Foundation and economists at the U.S. Census Bureau, ?startups aren?t everything when it comes to job growth. They?re the only thing.? This bill is a wholesale slaughter of US jobs. Those wishing to help fight this bill should contact us as below.

Small entities and inventors have been given far too little voice on this bill when one considers that they rely far more heavily on the patent system than do large firms who can control their markets by their size alone. The smaller the firm, the more they rely on patents -especially startups and individual inventors. Congress tinkering with patent law while gagging inventors is like a surgeon operating before examining the patient.

Please see for a different/opposing view on patent reform.

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