WIPO Celebrates Chinese Patent Explosion, Pretends That It's Innovation

from the patents-do-not-equal-innovation dept

We’ve talked in the past about patent system supporters’ somewhat blatant cluelessness to China’s clear recognition that its own growing patent system is the perfect tool for backdooring protectionism and trade barriers, without making it look like protectionism and trade barriers. I sometimes can’t tell if this is just because those system supporters are so focused on the narrow “more patents must be good” argument that they’re missing the big picture, or if they truly don’t understand what’s happening. Either way, we’ve got the latest example, as the folks at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), a part of the UN, are celebrating the fact that China’s patent system has received more applications than any other patent system this year.

China received 526,412 applications compared to 503,582 for the United States and 342,610 for Japan, according to the latest report from the Geneva-based World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

Now, some might wonder why this is happening — or even look to some of those earlier examples where China has used the patent system specifically to hold back foreign competition and wonder if this is actually something worth celebrating.

But not WIPO.

It thinks that patents are good, so more patents must be excellent:

“Sustained growth in IP filings indicates that companies continue to innovate despite weak economic conditions,” said WIPO’s Director General, Francis Gurry. “This is good news, as it lays the foundation for the world economy to generate growth and prosperity in the future.”

Except almost nothing that Gurry says there is even close to accurate. It assumes — without proof — that increased patent filings have something to do with innovation. They don’t. Increased patent filings only show people are filing for more patents. That is not the same thing as suggesting that they are innovating, because research has shown that patent numbers do not correlate well with innovation. Furthermore, a massive growth in patent applications does not “lay the foundation for the world economy to generate growth and prosperity.” Again, the reality is almost entirely opposite. It lays the foundation for a massive hindrance on innovation, increasing the amount of patent trolling, protectionism and general holding back of true innovation. And this doesn’t even touch on the fact that China’s numbers are propped up by the crazy incentives it’s been giving to people to file for patents.

This is a massive problem with groups like WIPO. They never seem to recognize that “more patents” or “more copyright” aren’t automatic good things. They simply assume — despite a total lack of evidence — that it must be so. Considering the harm that over-protection can do to any market, it’s a really ridiculous stance to take, and it makes WIPO and the UN lose nearly all credibility on the subject of patents and innovation.

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Comments on “WIPO Celebrates Chinese Patent Explosion, Pretends That It's Innovation”

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34 Comments
out_of_the_blue says:

It's a step up from worrying about a screensaver...

But just a pointless rant.

I’ll pretend there’s some substance, though and carp at “patent numbers do not correlate well with innovation”. — 1) SO they correlate SOMEWHAT. 2) Define “innovation”.

Mike “Streisand Effect” Masnick desperately needs your click. — Why? — Don’t ask me! He’s the one puts this link up often:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Streisand_effect
(IF he’s so famous, why does he need to put the link up?)

Zakida Paul says:

Re: It's a step up from worrying about a screensaver...

“Define “innovation”.”

Innovation is the act of creating new interesting and useful products that people want to use, or improving on products that already exist.

Patents merely protect what has already been created from being improved and thus have nothing to do with innovation.

Cory of PC (profile) says:

Re: It's a step up from worrying about a screensaver...

OK… “carp?” You mean the fish?

And since you may be asking a rhetorical question, it appears that you take the time to come here and not bother with your:

in?no?va?tion
/ˌinəˈvāSHən/
Noun
The action or process of innovating.
A new method, idea, product, etc: “technological innovations”.
Synonyms
novelty – newness

Source: Google

in?no?va?tion noun ˌi-nə-ˈvā-shən
Definition of INNOVATION

1: the introduction of something new
2: a new idea, method, or device : novelty
? in?no?va?tion?al adjective

Source: Merriam-Webster

in?no?va?tion [in-uh-vey-shuh n] Show IPA
noun
1.
something new or different introduced: numerous innovations in the high-school curriculum.
2.
the act of innovating; introduction of new things or methods.
Origin:
1540?50; < Late Latin innovātiōn- (stem of innovātiō ). See innovate, -ion

Related forms
in?no?va?tion?al, adjective.

Source: Dictionary.Reference.com

Innovation is the development of new customers value through solutions that meet new needs, inarticulate needs, or old customer and market needs in new ways. This is accomplished through different or more effective products, processes, services, technologies, or ideas that are readily available to markets, governments, and society. Innovation differs from invention in that innovation refers to the use of a better and, as a result, novel idea or method, whereas invention refers more directly to the creation of the idea or method itself. Innovation differs from improvement in that innovation refers to the notion of doing something different (Lat. innovare: “to change”) rather than doing the same thing better.

Source: Wikipedia

Boom, four links for you! If you don’t like them, then get away from your computer (or whatever you’re using to get to this site) and pull out a dictionary! There, you have your definition!

And finally, since does Mike put up a link to that page? You’re the one’s who putting it up, you idiot! And besides, do you have ANY clue what that phrase means?! Why bother putting it up if you have no idea what it means beyond trying to say that Mike’s the one who created a phrase? That’s nothing special compare to other trope namers out there, dipwad.

Anonymous Coward says:

it makes me cringe to think that people like this are in such high-profile, extremely well paid positions when they haven’t got the brain of a rocking horse! i class myself as being ordinary, perhaps even thick concerning some things and when i read about these clowns it just makes me glad i am. i do wonder, however, who the hell puts anyone like this up for the job? i guess it’s a typical ‘not what i know, more who i know’ situation!

‘just because more filings are being made, doesn’t mean there is more innovation’.

more to the point, it doesn’t mean there are even more patents, just attempts to secure more, possibly of the same!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Managers and bureaucrats don’t innovate, they manage the innovators. To do this they need some measure of innovation. Patents provide such a measure to their way of thinking.
They also provide tools for protecting a market, and are especially useful for reigning in small agile innovative companies that would otherwise steal large parts of their market.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

True but people are doing their best to make it easy to file patents everywhere which could be their undoing.

It is called PCT

China is leading the way in international patent applications with 33% of the pie so far.
http://www.wipo.int/pressroom/en/articles/2012/article_0001.html

http://www.lawfirms.com/resources/intellectual-property/patents/pct-patent-a-global-patent-filing-mechanism.htm

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Where ????

Then Europe is really screwed with far less patent applications. While a common EU patent office is a good idea in theory, the problem is that every country want to have specific parts covered by patents. Since exceptions are not a very hot topics for governments we end up with a far more open interpretation of what can be patented, including, but not limited to theories, software and several other non-physical subjects.
The easiest way to increase the number of patent applications is to remove excemptions! That doesn’t mean there is more innovation. It merely means more patents are possible to achieve in the countries!

Emily Z says:

Quantifying innovation

The post points out that patents aren’t a good indication of innovation, which seems reasonable. However, what *is* a good indicator of innovation? What else might we use quantify the amount of innovation going on?

It seems difficult to argue with people who have a different sense of what drives innovation if we don’t have any good ways to measure it.

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