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
    Not an electronic Rodent, 5 Feb 2011 @ 9:19am

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

    I was working from the graphic provided. I shy away from the first couple of years on it, because there was no clear trend. The real increases in patent activity appear to have happened in the mid 80s
    That doesn't actually answer the question - it still sounds like you've chosen a point to fit your theory. Move the graph a year or 2 either way and your clear answer isn't so clear. "First couple of years?" I'm looking at almost 20 years of data before your start-point you have discounted.
    Looking back to 1963, which is when the patent office's data starts from, the patents applied line for line is a very clear curve with a couple of blips. The patents granted line very roughly follows this, though in a much more "blippy" fashion. It's also trends slightly down from about '73 to '79 where it dips sharply before the upward trend starts. So why didn't you choose '80 as the start point? '85 only makes sense as a start date if you can point to a specific event or set of events that might have started the trend you suggest.
    The new administrator for the USPTO appears (by his own words) to have change some of the methods that were used to review patents. At the same time, it is reported that patent applications have only increased slightly.
    Except the USPTO report (PDF) suggests only a 0.3 month average improvement over 2009 in patent pendency against a 25%+ increase in patents granted over 2009 and according to you a similar increase in rejections. It also suggests the average patent pendency is over 35 months suggesting that the "backlog" is likely far from cleared as dramatic increases in applications have only stopped 2 years ago.
    What is your source of data for the increased number of rejections?
    The same base article that Mike Masnick worked from: 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.
    [citation needed] Unless I'm missing it there's no source for rejections data cited in the article either.
    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.
    I looked for the low points (drops) and I looked for high points (peaks). 96/97 area is still increasing, so not a drop off. 2004 (or 05, I don't love the graph) is a significant drop. Connection the biggest drop years together and connecting the higher peaks together gives a space of operation. The end idea isn't to be exact (some data may fall a hairs width outside, but rather to show the overall patterns, which are clear: The 2010 peak isn't really out of pattern.
    Extrapolating that, it would mean that by approx 2020 a variation year on year of over 100,000 patents approved (approx 30% of "maximum" total approved) would be perfectly acceptable and within the pattern. Does that sound right?
    More importantly, if the new director and the new review methods has been in place longer in 2009, the increase in 2010 would have likely been lower, as 2009 likely would have had more patents approved.
    The report linked before goes back to 2006 and shows an increase in pendency rates over that time except for the last year.

    I'm sorry it's increasingly looking like you have pulled your numbers largely out of thin air or perhaps somewhere lower, darker and more personal.

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