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


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  1. identicon
    Not an electronic Rodent, 4 Feb 2011 @ 11:55am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    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).
    That all sounds very impressive but I'm not an expert in statistical analysis, which is what you are doing, so lets take a look and perhaps you can explain to me:
    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".
    The data goes back to 1963. Why did you choose 1984 particularly as a start point? The overall trend appears an increasing curve not a cone which makes more sense if you compare it to the smoother curve with fewer aberations representign the number of applications. If you take a similar approach across all the data then if you use your endpoints a significant part of the curve is outside the cone, if you take a line from the beginning to the high/low points then few of the data points approach the bounds of the cone making it largely irrelevant.
    Also, why the end points? 2010 is obviously both the high point and the final value, but 2004 isnt the "low point" (actually I'm assuming you mean 2005 since 2004 is only about 1/3 the way down that particular fall)- it's one dip on the line. You could equally argue 1988, 2007 or perhaps even the '97/'98 elbow are the "low point"
    In the absence of a reason for extrapolating these particular points, the dates seem arbitarily chosen to make the cone fit around an arbitary chunk of the available data.
    All of the data fall inside this cone.
    No in fact they don't. Most gets close, but at the lower end up to 1997 a significant number of the data points are slightly below the lower bound you suggest.
    Add your own trend line in the middle, and you get a better picture of the deal.
    No idea how to crunch the numbers on this one nor the desire to spend that much time finding out, but visual observation appears there is significantly more area above the supposed "mid line" than below scewed towards the later part. What would you say is the relevance of that? To me it suggests a curve relationship more than a line or cone.
    2010 looks big by itself, but is in reality right inside the conethe validity is easy to see, the high line naturally hits each of the peak points along the way, with no need to adjust)
    Only within the apparantly arbitary start and end values set. If you choose almost any other values the relationship gets far more murky. So what is the relevance of those dates or values chosen as fixed points that validates your theorum?

    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.
    No, the line is consistantly increasing to 2008 when it levels off but does not drop significantly. Do you have any data to support the 18-month figure for "backlog clearance"? Faintly possible according to that theory but that would mean the improved turnover came in the latter 6 months of 2010.
    As there was only a small increase in applications, but significant increases in both approvals AND rejections
    There are no values in the data I referred to of either rejection count or number of patents processed in a year. What is your source of data for the increased number of rejections? Without any specific evidence of changes to process or significant changes in staffing levels or data of what year the approved applications come from, there is nothing to support the theorum that the number of rejections also went up.

    In the absence of analysis of where statistics come from I subscribe to the Douglas Adams theory of statistics; "Statistics don't tell you anything you didn't already know except that everyone in the galaxy has 2.4 legs and owns a hyena". Or the less obscure "93.41% of statistics are made up on the spot".

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Show Now: Takedown
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.