IP Recap #24

February 23, 2017

Archive


WIPO’s PCT System Sees its 3 Millionth Patent Application

And it Goes to Fraunhofer

WIPO’s PCT System Sees its 3 Millionth Patent Application

The Story

The WIPO Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) system was introduced in 1978 and served the purpose of making international filings simpler. Applicants submit a single patent application which can then be forwarded around the world to as many of the 151 contracting states as the inventor desires. For this reason, it is a highly popular system, and there has been growth in the number of PCT applications filed every single year with the exception of 2009 the year the global financial crisis hit. Fraunhofer was responsible for the landmark filing for their patent “Vector Network Analyser”.

Why it Matters

The PCT system is valuable to inventors as it allows them to make more cost-effective decisions on a patent as they can postpone many costs associated with sending their applications internationally, and can do so with an informed position about the patentability of the invention. These 3 million applications over 39 years show how this system has revolutionised international patent filings.


 PAEs’ Purpose as Financial Intermediaries

Here’s to the Little Guys!

The Story

Patent Assertion Entities (PAEs) get a lot of negative press, and are often seen as a tax on innovation with their tendency to chase many small infringement cases in the hope of getting swift settlements to avoid legal costs. However, one rarely sees an empirical study to investigate their role in the IP universe. Haber and Werfel from Stanford University did exactly that for this free access paper, where they took a pool of volunteers who are currently commercialising inventions. They each were given a hypothetical patent which improves upon a common product, and told that a major corporation has decided to “efficiently infringe”. They were then given the choice of selling their patent to a PAE for a fixed price, or asserting it in court and paying legal fees. They then took surveys to assess their attitudes to risk, and found that those that identified as an entrepreneur (and are therefore more likely to have larger financial support) were more likely to litigate, but that those that identified as inventors were more likely to sell to a PAE.

Why it Matters

PAEs are often seen as the bad guys of the patent world, but in a hypothetical scenario such as the one in this study, it is quite easy to see how they facilitate the smaller inventors having a shot at the established players when it comes to infringement, as they are able to benefit from the protection without taking on the risks of litigation themselves.


EPO Deals Heavy Blow to Software Patents

Court is Hard on Software

The Story

Software patents have been having a hard time in the US since the Alice verdict, although more recent cases have clarified the interpretation of software patent validity in their favour. However, the EPO recently reviewed a decision not to grant a patent from The Mathworks related to applying models to simulations. In deciding that the subject matter wasn’t patentable, the board issued some striking statements which will provide major issues to software patents in Europe. Examples include that neither modelling nor programming is, by itself, a technical undertaking; modifying a programming language is not a technical contribution to the art; and even if the technical purpose of a simulation method is “adequately defined” and the claim is limited to that purpose, it is questionable whether this makes a technical contribution to the art.

Why it Matters

For a company like The Mathworks, whose products include MATLAB and Simulink, the programming is core to the product, and this will compromise their ability to exclude competitors from copying their software, or even copying the improvements they made in order to e.g. speed up their software. This means they will have to look to other forms of IP to protect their business.


 A Look at the Current Patent Landscape for AI

Atari_AI_IP

 

The Story

Last week we published an article on the growing AI market. We looked at the current patent filing rate for AI related patents and found some interesting information. Specifically, the bulk of AI patents are not coming from major corporations making smaller start-ups ideal targets for purchase or investment depending on the value of their innovations. We also thought it would be interesting to follow the trajectory of a single AI patent over the past 37 years. It’s very interesting to so how one Atari patent has influenced so many other technologies.


In Case You Missed Them

Our Valentine’s to IP

Managing IP (@ManagingIP) on Valentine’s day last week put out a poetry challenge on Twitter. We think we did pretty well.

Roses are red
Violets are blue
If you’re the inventor
The patent’s initially assigned to you
By Tim Higgs

Roses are red
Violets are blue
NPEs are litigious
They love to sue
By Tim Higgs

Roses are a flower comprising a stem and coloured petals including but not limited to the colour red
Violets also, with the exemplary embodiment being the petals tinted blue
This was a nice concise poem
Until a lawyer went through
By Barry Welch

 


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