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.