UK Patent Office Considers Its Own Obviousness Test
from the not-a-bad-thing dept
Here in the US the Supreme Court is still thinking about the US Patent Office's "obviousness" test for patents. Over in the UK, it sounds like folks are considering a similar issue -- though, rather than the courts, it's actually the UK Patent Office itself, wondering if it should use an "inventive step" test, which seems to be quite similar to the "obviousness" test that is being talked about in the US. The Patent Office asked for feedback on the idea and got a range of comments, with most of them seeking a "middle ground." The problem is that a middle ground doesn't really make sense here. The entire point of the patent system is to put in place incentives for innovation. The problem with letting otherwise obvious ideas through is that it clearly hinders that purpose. It hands a monopoly on an idea that others were working on to whoever happens to file the patent first. That doesn't promote progress -- it impedes it by making it harder for anyone else to compete. If the patent system was supposed to be a welfare system or a reward system, that's a different story -- but it wasn't intended for that purpose and there's no economic reason why it should be. If it's only intended to put in place incentives for people to come up with ideas that go beyond the obvious, then obvious ideas shouldn't be rewarded with a monopoly.