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New WIPO Figures Reinforce Reality Where More Patents Needn’t Imply More Innovation, Just Lower Standards

Posted in America, Asia, Europe, Patents at 5:57 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Unless China is truly the king of innovation whereas Europe as a collective whole just a distant fifth (behind Japan and Korea), the number of patents granted is mostly indicative of the ease of being granted patents in different parts of the world


Summary: Response to data from WIPO and interpretation by Managing Intellectual Property (MIP), where the number of patents granted is conveniently treated as proportional to (or surrogate of) level of innovation

THE latest WIPO data is out and it’s interesting because it shows that, as MIP put it, “China also received the highest number of patent applications” (utter junk patents, with little or no quality).

The USPTO with its notoriously low standards (acceptance rate is at around 92%) is second. Is this something to be proud of? We think not. In the US, 92% of patent applications are (eventually) considered a “success”, but what kind of success is this? That’s just the de facto definition or example of “rubber-stamping” organisation (like ISO), which is what China’s patent office effectively became when the bubble started off. Notice how friendly Benoît Battistelli is with China these days, his imitation of human rights abuses aside.

“The USPTO with its notoriously low standards (acceptance rate is at around 92%) is second.”China and the US are said to be at the “top” (at sites like MIP, the more, the merrier), then it’s Japan, Korea, and Benoît Battistelli’s EPO only at 5th. Remember when Microsoft threatened to turn to the Korean patent office at the expense of EPO because the EPO wasn’t granting enough patents (in bulk)? Well, the Battistelli-led EPO responded by becoming a lapdog of Microsoft. Measuring the quality of any patent office in terms of number of patents granted is patently misguided. It’s usually indicative no legitimate quality control, neither at prior art search nor triviality thresholds (some US patents are ‘sophisticated’ enough for a toddler to come up with).

“China also received the highest number of patent applications,” MIP wrote, 928,1777 out of a worldwide total of 2.7 million. This represented growth of 12.5% from 2013 to 2014.”

How many of those (nearly) million patents are actually true innovations and how many are just a waste of paper?

“Does it mean that Japan became less innovative? Probably not. Maybe it prioritises development over paperwork.”“It was followed by the offices in the United States, Japan, Korea and the EPO,” MIP wrote. “The top 20 office with the largest percentage growth was that of Iran (18.5%). Japan was the only major office to see a decline in patent filings.”

Does it mean that Japan became less innovative? Probably not. Maybe it prioritises development over paperwork. Other factors to consider are the scope of coverage, the cost of application, the cost of renewal, backlog size, patent lifespan etc. but these don’t vary all that much and are usually proportional to the size/breadth of the local economy so such factors average out.

This nicely ties into what we wrote this morning about EPO lobbying/promotion of the UPC (also noted earlier this week). Sifting through a lot of trolls and distraction in IP Kat comments (maybe a deliberate misdirection in these comments) we found the following informative comment:

all the rules for the UP were approved by the Select Committee today.

Another of this decisions behind closed doors?

Does anybody know if any objection raised during the discussion that occurred within this “selected” (by whom?) Committe will ever be made public?

For your information the “Select Committee” is a body formed pursuant to Article 145 EPC.

It comprises the delegates from the EPC Contracting States that have signed up to the EU Unitary Patent, i.e. most of the EU Contracting States.

If you want to find out more about what its members are up to then try contacting one of your MEPs or making a freedom of information request to the competent ministry in your country.

Well, patent lawyers still want more litigation, injunctions etc. That’s why they bat for the UPC in lawyers’ Web sites and hail it as though it’s the best ‘innovation’ since sliced bread.

“There goes Battistelli’s rave about ‘productivity’ and ‘production’ (usually proportional to number of grants) down the drain…”We hope that patent maximalism in Europe (which UPC is all about) will be challenged politically. Looking at today’s EPO news we only found this press release titled “Intec Pharma (NTEC) Receives European Patent Covering Accordion Pill Zaleplon“. This is one among many drug monopolies (it’s not at all clear if such patents offer benefits to society). The press release says that “the Company has been informed by the European Patent Office (EPO) that a European patent will be granted December 23, 2015 on the Company’s European Patent Application for a “Zaleplon gastroretentive drug delivery system.””

Remember what Baxter (EPO-connected) has been trying to patent for a number of years at the EPO. It turned out to be an example of good patent examination and good work by the boards (a very thorough prior art search), which contributed to repeated rejection of the patent application (pertaining to software). There goes Battistelli’s rave about ‘productivity’ and ‘production’ (usually proportional to number of grants) down the drain…

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