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, 5 Feb 2011 @ 10:39am

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

    I used the graphic in Mike's orignal story:

    http://i.imgur.com/fErsO.jpg

    it starts in 1980. I didn't use 1980 or 1981 because on the graph, there is no say if they are up or down from the previous years. Longer term data samples may show different results, but 1980 is truly the start of the "modern age of patent" in the US, which sharp increases in applications and approvals.

    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

    The new administrator only took over in late 2009 and worked to put new practices in place. There is an increase in 2009, and again in 2010. I do wish you would quote from that PDF, because it is an awfully long document to read to try to determine your point. However, this is key:

    Productivity was up by 3.6 percent over the same time last year. The year’s total production units were 522,407 versus 504,481 production units in FY 2009. Allowances have increased from 189,120 last year to 240,438 this year. Final rejections ended the year with 258,436 final rejections, compared to 238,497 for the same period in FY 2009.

    While they processing time may have only dropped slightly, the number of "units" transacted were up 3.5%, with increases in both approvals and rejections (which denies the idea of a rubber stamp policy).

    The report linked before goes back to 2006 and shows an increase in pendency rates over that time except for the last year.

    Yes it does. The number of applications being made it going up, and the last few years the Patent office appears to have been getting bogged down. Pendency is a trailing indicator (as it takes a long time to build up and a long time to go back down, regardless of actions). With 700,000+ pending "units" and 400,000+ added each year, the delay times won't show any drop until 2011 or even 2012, as that backlog number drops. The number is finally solidly below 2 years of submissions, which should help to move that number back down under 24 months.

    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.

    No, I am taking them from the same sources that Mike Masnick used. My feeling is that if you want to find something sinister in the numbers, you can find them. I am just offering an alternate explanation that isn't very sinister, and certainly appears to be just as plausible as those provided by the anti-patent tin foil hat brigade.

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