According to Intellectual Property Watch, the worldwide patent backlog “could impose £7.6 billion (about USD$11.3 billion) in annual expenses on the global economy within the next five years if nothing is done to fix it, according to a new economics study from the United Kingdom released this morning before directors of several top global intellectual property offices.” Personally, I know this significantly underestimates the damage done by dysfunctional patent systems around the world.
The article suggests that patent harmonization is necessary to reduce the backlog. However, harmonization has done nothing to reduce the backlog of unexamined patent applications to date. In addition, all harmonization programs have been attempts to weaken the US patent system and give away our technology. The article suggests that hiring additional examiners has not worked to reduce the patent backlog. Of course, if the US government took its constitutional duties seriously they would prioritize the patent system instead of trying to take over health care, or spending billions on green projects or social engineering projects.
What is needed to reduce the backlog of unexamined patents is a reciprocity system. Under reciprocity if an inventor received a patent in Canada they would obtain some patent rights in the US and vice versa. This does not require harmonization, so it does not hurt the rights of US inventors. “About 50 percent of patent applications seen in the US come from overseas,” according to David Kappos, Director of the US Patent and Trademark Office. The US Patent Office is just repeating the work done in other patent offices of other countries. While not all of these countries can be counted on to perform a thorough examination, many can. It makes no sense that your patent is only valid in one country but can be invalidated by prior art anywhere in the world. It’s as if you lost the rights to your car when you drove it into Canada. Reciprocity would also encourage more investment in technology, which is the only way to increase real per capita income.
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