The Productivity Commission Warns Against Patent Maximalism, Which is Where China (SIPO) is Heading Along With EPO
Summary: In defiance of common sense and everything that public officials or academics keep saying (European, Australian, American), China’s SIPO and Europe’s EPO want us to believe that when it comes to patents it’s “the more, the merrier”
RECENTLY, Australia’s Productivity Commission reiterated its opposition to software patents (as before), only to face protests from the patent microcosm (also as before). The report came out so close to Christmas that not many people covered it. During the holiday TechDirt wrote that:
Back in May we were both surprised and delighted by a thorough and detailed report from the Australian Productivity Commission noting that copyright was broken and harming the public, and that it needed to be fixed — with a core focus on adding fair use (which does not exist in Australia). It similarly found major problems with the patent system. It was a pretty amazing document, full of careful, detailed analysis of the problems of both the copyright and patent systems — the kinds of things we discuss all the time around here.
TechDirt focused on copyright aspects of the output from Australia’s Productivity Commission. We already wrote about half a dozen posts about the patent aspects of the Productivity Commission’s report (May and December). The bottom line is, the Productivity Commission basically bemoans both copyright maximalism* and patent maximalism; it specifically chastises software patents. These are seen as detrimental to Australia (rightly so!).
“The bottom line is, the Productivity Commission basically bemoans both copyright maximalism and patent maximalism; it specifically chastises software patents”Look at China for a cautionary tale. It’s quickly becoming a terrible place for inventors and producers to be in. “Patent inventorship has been disputed in several recent cases in China. Wenhui Zhang reviews four court decisions that provide lessons for inventors,” MIP writes. China’s patent office, SIPO, has become the dumpster of rejected patents — the place where one is guaranteed little scrutiny and lots of cheap patents (expensive in a court where the lawyers can make a killing). The EPO is going down the same route under Battistelli, although this transition is a gradual one.
“Right now it’s risky to even look at successful applications because that leads to higher liability/damages in case of infringement.”In a later post we are going to show just how quickly patent trolls are emerging in China as a result of SIPO’s policies. It’s quite incredible, especially in light of the death of patent trolls in the US (due to patent scope restrictions, among other restrictions).
Remember how the patent system was originally, as per the history books, conceived as a way to reward inventors and for publication of inventions? Not anymore. Right now it’s risky to even look at successful applications because that leads to higher liability/damages in case of infringement. And watch what MIP is currently saying about PCT. “For many patent applicants,” it says, “the primary value of the PCT is as a delaying tactic.”
Great for productivity, eh? Not.
“As a reminder, China is now (officially!) perfectly okay even with patents on software and business methods.”“With prosecution costs being a significant contributor to the total price of obtaining patent protection,” MIP says, “applicants are well advised to make strategic decisions early on in the application process to limit costs further down the line. International (PCT) applications are known by many applicants and IP professionals as a convenient delaying tactic when considering jurisdictions in which to file applications following a first filing.”
More than half a decade ago we wrote many articles about the dangerous vision of a global (or globalised) patent system and what it would entail. Now, imagine those million plus patent applications in China (obviously low quality patents) being pointed at every single country/company in the world. As a reminder, China is now (officially!) perfectly okay even with patents on software and business methods. █
* The misguided idea that copyright scope, rigidness, lifetime etc. should be maximal if not infinite. This tends to promote centralisation of power/ownership, monopolisation, and harm to culture, curation, preservation, free expression, etc.