back to article Globe-spanning patent bombs touted by Euro, UN pen-pushers

The European and UN patent-handling bodies have agreed to join forces to encourage companies and inventors to file their designs under an improved worldwide Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). The treaty allows intellectual property registered in one nation to be acknowledged in other countries that have signed up to the pact, so …

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Anonymous Coward

We don't want shite US PTO patents here....

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Trollface

Why? Don't you want earth shattering patents that revolutionise everyday life such as U.S. Patent No. 4320756 AKA the Toilet Snorkel?

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Trollface

Re: Toilet Snorkel

Speaking as an American, we do not take credit for this. Clearly, some hostile foreign entity must be trying to discredit us. Probably the French...

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Does this mean we'll be getting software patents too?!?!? Really hope not.

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Anonymous Coward

So how is this supposed to work

when different countries have different standards for patentability?

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This may be how this is supposed to work

A patent only gives you the right to drag someone before court. Only the judge can tell you if the patent is valid and enforceable. Hence, an international system won't really change anything. The patent owner still has to think hard whether the patent will survive in court, only now he can think about it in more jurisdictions (and more languages).

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Re: This may be how this is supposed to work

Everything you've said is true Schultz. Unfortunately large companies often pressure smaller ones into paying royalties on dubious patents because the smaller company can't afford to got to court and have it tested.

Patent law often isn't about who's right and who's wrong but who has the most lawyers.

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Re: This may be how this is supposed to work

Very true, Fibbles, but *that* is a problem with the legal system.

The article suggests that the PCT is merely a rather boring agreement on suitable formats for exchanging patent-related data and won't actually change the patent system or associated legal wrangles in any way.

I hope they haven't used XML. Someone's probably got a patent on that.

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Can you challenge a foreign patent?

What happens when a US company has a 'patent' that was granted without any proper investigation for patentability or for prior art, and tries to enforce it in the UK? Can the UK court challenge the validity of the US patent?

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Re: Can you challenge a foreign patent?

The application procedure, and the various filings required in each country, seem somewhat long-winded... it looks like you have to pass patentability checks internationally if you want to enforce things - but the FAQ is not too clear on that

http://www.wipo.int/pct/en/faqs/faqs.html

The application notes and other docs linked from there may shed more light.

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PT

Re: Can you challenge a foreign patent?

There will be no opportunity for a UK court to challenge a US patent. Alleged violators will simply be extradited to the US so that the case can be heard in East Texas.

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Devil

Bureaucrats among themselves, doing 69s...

AFAIK, the European Patent Office is not even "european", just cargo-culting to that position by prefixing the Magic Adjective.

Yes, this empire building will end in tears (except for the extraordinary league of people who make money by doing no discernible productive work), and maybe a limited nuclear exchange.

Can the World-Wide Currency be far behind?

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The EU court has just tossed software patents in the bin

http://curia.europa.eu/juris/documents.jsf?num=C-406/10

arse elbow time?

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Linux

Re: The EU court has just tossed software patents in the bin

That lawsuit was very interesting, but it seemed to be about copyright, not patents. It's really clouding your mind if you conflate those two to "intellectual property" (see Stallman's essay, www.gnu.org/philosophy/not-ipr.html ).

It seemed to be about that reverse engineering protocols and languages for the purpose of interoperability must always stay allowed, otherwise it would restrict the software industry too much.

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Facepalm

Theory vs Practice

In Theory this is an excellent idea - have a single point where to apply for a patent, which then applies across multiple jurisdictions.

In practice (not actually specified but looks that way) the actual patents will still pass through local vetting. I'm guessing if a multinational company tries to apply for a completely trivial patent that gets rejected in one country, it will just apply through another country and end up on the international lit anyway. The way incentives work, national patent offices will be falling over themselves to approve patents so that they're the ones getting paid for applications.

In the end it all comes down to incentives... as long as patent offices and officers are incentivised by patent quantity rather than quality, then shit patents will continue to be granted.

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"further essential step to foster innovation"

While you are at it, can you please stipulate:

1. Patents are valid for a term of three years. It can, of course, be renewed if relating to something that is still being actively produced by the patent holder; and...

2. Patents are null and void if applied to something you don't actually make, produce, or subcontract. I think the patent on slide-to-unlock is ridiculous, but it is a patent for an actual thing on an actual product made by the patent holder. However there are a number of organisations that produce nothing but look to extort money for "infringed" patents. What is their worth in fostering innovation?

3. Patents can be shared between companies (i.e. if Samsung and Nokia, say, have something in common, they can pool their patents between them), so long as it does not fall foul of rule 2.

The concept of patents is not a bad one, per se, it is just the current implementation is set up as little more than a grossly corrupt capitalist cash cow (as in, screw the validity of this patent, walk it to court and pay a lot of money to bloodsucking leeches to argue the point). Notwithstanding, also, the requirement to enforce a patent - thus meaning you have to take it to court. Was this whole shebang set up by lawyers, perchance?

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This is just process, not patent law or patent rights

I could be wrong, but at face value, this just seems to be about the way the process works, nothing to do with patents, everything to do with administration.

When you apply for a patent in One country, the details are eventually automatically published, you automatically loose all patent rights in all other countries. That is the process described here.

You can also apply for patents in all other countries, paying the fees, having it examined, getting it granted or not, just by ticking the boxes on the forms and forwarding the cash. That is the process described here.

A standard patent application form is numbered with standard numbers, so that you can apply without knowing the language. You put your name into field 1, your address into field 2 etc etc. Same numbers on every form for every country that is part of the patent treaty. You can walk into your patent office, fill out the form in Ethiopian, and forward it to Ethiopia. That is a process more than 20 years old. Evidentally they wish to update from paper forms into the computer age.

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Anonymous Coward

The European patent office stores all its patents in a giant cvs database on unix servers. They went with this format because it was unencumbered with licensing and patent issues (I jest not!) and gives them easy access to revisions and changes for legal reasons.

So it might simply be a case of checking out the database into different partners. Probably some of the partners will want to use m$ products and it will go to crap.

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Unhappy

PCT is a waste of time

All the PCT gives you is an extension of time before you have to lodge patent papers in each country. You still have to fill in the forms for each country, you still have to pay for each country, and still have to pass examination for each country. What it does give you a universally recognised priority date and the ability to delay filing in each country.

What we really need is the ability to file once and have it enforcable everywhere, but then as correctly pointed out it would quickly descend into a patent in the most liberal country, and enforce everywhere which would not be too good.

Patents are a nightmare for everybody, including the inventor. Look up applying for a patent if you're having trouble sleeping (and look up the costs associated if you're currently feeling well off).

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