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. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Feb 2011 @ 5:48am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    What could possibly suddenly make every patent examiner massively more efficient?

    There is the simple answer: Overlap from the previous year. If there was a major backlog (and it appears that after 2006, things seems to slow down), then it is possible that the backlog cleared out in an 18 month period.

    What was most telling is this line from the "source" post:

    The increased number of issuances raises some concern that the PTO has lowered its standard for patentability. It is true, that a higher percentage of applications are resulting in issued patents. However, the PTO is also rejecting more applications than ever before

    It would suggest that they have changed their work methods to process more applications overall. As there was only a small increase in applications, but significant increases in both approvals AND rejections, you know that they are looking at more documents overall. If they were just in the business of rubber stamping anything, they could have also approved all of those rejected ones as well.

    Rodent: Your numbers are correct, but a little misleading. Look at it with a "high, low, and trend" like you would be looking at the stock market. There is a moving average, but there is also a high peak and low peak. If you take the graph from the original post, and draw a straight line from 1984 through to 2004 (which was a very low year), and then draw a second line from 1985 to 2010, you will get a "cone". All of the data fall inside this cone. You now have your "high" and "low" lines. Add your own trend line in the middle, and you get a better picture of the deal. 2010 looks big by itself, but is in reality right inside the cone (the validity is easy to see, the high line naturally hits each of the peak points along the way, with no need to adjust).

    Mike, because you are looking for a reason to slam patents, you are looking at the data and trying to dream up all sorts of evil implications. Example:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GMN67f5KB6A

    (nice hand held camera of the TV video... do you think this video is "with permissions"?)

    Clearly, if changes were made to focus on substantive issues of the patent application (as opposed to wrote processing without looking at the meat of the application) it would take longer to find reasons to either reject or move forward with the application. That there is an increase in rejections and approvals suggests they have better triage of the income applications, and that they may be working a little better with those applying for patents to "skip to the chase" on things and see where they are landing.

    It would appear that a change of methods is key to the change in results, not some horrible nasty plan of world domination (Risk, anyone?) from Obama.

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