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, 6 Feb 2011 @ 2:11am

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

    The rejection data is from the very PDF you directed me to.

    The rubber stamp issue is a non-starter. If they want to just speed things up without consideration, they wouldn't even both to read the applications, and would just approve them. That more patents were refused than approved (by a long shot, applications were more than twice the approved rate, even if you offset the applications by 2 years). Clearly they aren't just passing anything.
    So Mike suggesting they are approving new patents "willy-nilly" is just plain wrong, not supported by what he links to, and destroyed by what you added to the discussion.
    That's misleading. Rubber stamping" doesn't have to mean random selection as you suggest and it would be ridiculous if that were the case. If you put a focus on handling more patents, which they did, it can work one of 2 ways. Process improvement can produce results without sacrificing quality or your new process can simply speed up the process without improving it.
    "Proper" process improvement and change usually reduces speed for some period while new process is tested and implemented and people are not familiar with it. That might be supported by the dip '07-'08, but you suggest this is before the "new boss" started process improvement.

    Speed on the other hand is easier to acheive - a "nip" here a "tuck" there in existing process and voila. The problem with that is that with the focus on speeding up the process it can miss qulity.

    Take for example UK road safety policy. In the '90's the government started focussing on speeding as the key aspect, presumably because it's efficient to enforce and easy to metric - speeding conviction rates have since gone up hugely, sucess right? The government certainly say so Except over the same period the number of road deaths has drifted up off the trend line of it's steady deline - road deaths are still falling but not as much as before. It's not necessarily (or ven likely) malicious on the part of the UK government, just misguided.

    For my part it was this kind of "rubber stamping" I assumed Mike meant rather than something sinister like the govermnet deliberately throwing out the patent process - that would be ridiculous.

    So to say the data proves your point (though your point seems to have changed somewhat through the thread) that a patently ridiculous claim that as far as I can see no-one ever made is hardly justified.
    That more patents were refused than approved (by a long shot, applications were more than twice the approved rate, even if you offset the applications by 2 years)
    Really?
    Final rejections ended the year with 258,436 final rejections, compared to 238,497 for the same period in FY 2009. (that being the only rejection figures I can find int he report), with total patent grants 244,341 up from 191,927. So that would be wrong then.

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