Bad Ideas: Globalizing The Patent System

from the this-won't-end-well dept

It's pretty clear that Microsoft's patent boss, Horacio Gutierrez, and I don't agree on much, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that I find nothing to like in Gutierrez's new call for "global patents." I can understand where the complaint comes from. It surely is a pain to have to apply for a patent in many different countries around the world, and to deal with different local systems and responses. And, yes, there is a big backlog at the patent office, which could be alleviated if many patent offices weren't all reviewing the same patents. But, having different patent systems actually serves an important function in better understanding the levers of innovation: which is that we get to compare different approaches and that different countries can try out different ideas to see what works and what doesn't. Unfortunately, we've already lost some of that uniqueness around the world due to the TRIPS agreement, which harmonized many patent systems on certain points, and took away some of the unique features of patent systems.

We've already seen that in "harmonizing" copyrights thanks to the Berne Convention that it's been made much more difficult for countries to correct mistakes (or even admit mistakes) with overly aggressive copyright laws. In fact, it's created a situation where the only direction copyright law seems to go is towards stronger protection -- almost always under claims of a need to "live up to international treaties." If we created a single global patent system, you'd have that problem on steroids. Rather than being able to experiment and cut back on the excesses and problems of the patent system, the entire world would be stuck with a single system, and any changes to the regulations would be driven by those who benefit most from being able to abuse such monopoly rights.

Filed Under: globalized, horacio gutierrez, patents


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  1. identicon
    Vic kley, 3 Sep 2009 @ 11:46am

    Great idea from Horacio! Go Global!

    Basically a GREAT IDEA! And a real opportunity to treat the key source of all ideas the individual entity properly and in a way that is fair and evens the playing field

    Obviously it needs to respect the enforcement in each given country. It must also provide a three tier fee structure for Large Entities (like Microsoft), Small Entities (like Redhat or other less then 500 person firms) and Individual (9 or fewer persons and less then 1million 2009 baseline valued euros/annum).

    No maintenance fees for Individual entities until the issued patent is licensed by a large or small entity in which case all such fees are due and payable. This means the maintenance fees are based on the licensee's status (large or small entity).

    In the event that pre-issue or post issue challenges are supported by the World Patent Office (WPO) all challengers are required to provide equal representation to any Individual Entity challenged. That is if MS decided to challenge Individual entity Giggle it would be required to pay for a legal team for Giggle equal to the legal team it fielded.

    The fees for Individual entities will be less then that in any present PCT country today and not more then 1000 euros in total to issuance regardless of office actions, appeals etc.

    The WPO will include the major market countries of the world including USA, European Union, India, China, Brazil, Argentina, Canada, Australia, South Africa, Egypt.

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