Businesses Prefer Stringent Patent Exam Process Rather Than Faster Grants

from the good-to-know dept

It's not clear how relevant a sample this is, but a new study suggests that businesses don't want a faster patent review process if it means quality is decreased. This, hopefully, should be a reasonable stance for just about anyone to agree on -- but there are those who keep pushing to lower the hurdles needed to get a patent. It's true that the patent process takes a lot of time, but given how many bad patents get through, making the process even easier seems like a really bad idea. In fact, many of us would prefer (greatly) if things moved in the other direction, making it much more difficult to get a patent unless there's real proof that the idea is unique and non-obvious. Unfortunately, there are those who equate the number of patents filed or granted with innovation, and therefore see no problem at all with putting in place incentives for people to file more patents and the patent office to grant them. As it stands now, the patent office has a police of "when in doubt, approve" rather than reject -- and it seems like a good place to start would be with flipping that rule. It's yet another case where metrics have gotten in the way of common sense. The patent office looks at how many patents an examiner approves, and rejecting a patent doesn't help that number. We've all seen way too many bad patents make it through -- and have seen how those bad patents hinder, rather than help, innovation. Patents are a government granted monopoly, and should be handed out only in the rarest of circumstances -- not in large batches.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Jason, Nov 29th, 2006 @ 6:58am

    patent race

    An unfortunate side effect here is that if it becomes harder to get a patent, then the big companies that already control dozens (hundreds? thousands?) of patents will be even harder to compete with. Small companies can't afford the wait time, and they'll get squeezed out of the industry before they even get a chance to breathe.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Dean Landolt, Nov 29th, 2006 @ 6:47pm

    USPTO examiner reporting...

    "The patent office looks at how many patents an examiner approves, and rejecting a patent doesn't help that number."

    Mike, I'm curious where you got that information from? While I'm 100% with you in the intellectual property debate, I happen to be a contractor working on the USPTO's data warehouse and I can say with some certainty this doesn't appear to be the case, at least from the kinds of reports we support for management.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. icon
    Mike (profile), Nov 29th, 2006 @ 8:35pm

    Re: USPTO examiner reporting...

    Mike, I'm curious where you got that information from?

    I don't have the source with me (travelling right now), but I remember where I saw it, so I'll check when I get back to the office. However, it focused on how examiners are rated, and how they can advance and receive raises at the USPTO, which has plenty to do with how many patents they go through. Rejected patent often involve a lengthy appeal, which slows the process down. Patent examiners have basically had incentives put in place that say "when in doubt, approve." So, the end result is all that matters is approving patents.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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