And Now Europe Feels The Need To Catch Up To China And The US In The Self-Destructive Patent Race

from the bad-news-for-innovation dept

Well, you had to know this was coming. When you make the very dangerous mistake of assuming that patents are a proxy for innovation, then you get concerned when other countries/regions are getting more patents than you are. We've already covered how China is ramping up their patent approvals in an attempt to create an economic weapon against the West ("sorry, you can't sell those computers here, they violate the patent of this Shanghai firm..."). And, of course, the US has stupidly fallen into line and started approving patents willy-nilly to keep up. So, over in Europe, overreacting bureaucrats are about to make the same mistake. They've declared that the EU is "falling behind" in innovation (really, patents) and are urging a more streamlined patent system that would be European-wide. The idea, of course, is that with a EU-wide patent system, it becomes easier to get patents. Of course, that only helps innovation if patents actually lead to more innovation and, sadly, the evidence suggests otherwise.

Filed Under: china, eu, patents, us


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  1. icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), 4 Feb 2011 @ 2:09am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Around '97-'98 the line takes a huge leap upwards. The US-sourced figures mimic this on a much smaller scale. This is also the time of a blip then a large upswing in the number of applications. Clearly some event happened at this time

    This is because of the State Street decision that made it clear that a much broader range of software and business methods really were patentable. Suddenly the system was flooded with applications, often for things that people had simply assumed were not patentable earlier.

    After this around 2004/2005 it dips significantly for a year back to what would look approx the trend from the pre-'97 phase.

    This is about when the Supreme Court started to pushback on massive expansionism of the patent system, with a series of rulings that smacked down CAFC decisions and pushed back on various aspects of patents, including patentability, obviousness, injunctions and other things.

    The final and current figure jumps massively in a way that looks similar to the '97 jump except larger, suggesting that the "new trend" if/when it levels out to "regular growth" will be signigicantly above the post '97 levels.

    Right. Contrary to the assertions by folks above who are somewhat unfamiliar with basic statistics and the details of what's actually happening, the increase in 2010 was way out of the ordinary, and not at all in light with the past. Unlike the past, there was no such 'defining' event. There was the bilski decision mid-year, but that changed nothing of substance.

    The idea that patent examiners could magically find time to efficiently and accurately approve "just" 8 or 9 more patents per year is highly misleading as well. Patent examiners ALREADY have very little time to review patents. Squeezing an extra 8 or 9 in per year is a tremendous leap. Anyone who thinks otherwise has no clue how the patent examination process works.

    Finally that 8 or 9 is an "average." What could possibly suddenly make every patent examiner massively more efficient? No one has suggested any viable reason, other than spending less time reviewing patents and simply approving more bad patents.

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