Monday, June 08, 2009

Hatch/Otellini: Fully funding the patent office is a key to economic recovery

In an opinion piece in the San Jose Mercury News, Senator Hatch and Intel CEO Otellini write:

Fee diversion is nothing less than a tax on innovation.

A fully funded patent office with fiscal flexibility would at the very least mean more and better trained patent examiners, more complete libraries of prior art, and greater deployment of modern information technologies to address the agency's growing needs. All of these improvements would lead to higher quality patents being granted sooner. In other words, more jobs.
For this reason, we believe that the anti-stimulatory practice of fee diversion should be a central focus of the patent reform debate in Congress. Putting new ideas to work is at least as powerful, and important, as other measures our government has taken to strengthen our economy.

The word "quality" appeared earlier in the piece: Now, more than ever, it is important to ensure efficiency and increased quality in the issuance of patents. This in turn will create an environment that fosters entrepreneurship and the creation of new jobs. but low-quality patents were not stated to be a tax on innovation.

As LBE has noted before, Deming would say, if there's a problem in production, fix the production (here the examination process). The opinion piece emphasizes the value of getting the examination right. In contast, adding an inspection step (here post-grant review (aka opposition)) is not a "quality" way to fix the problem. The Hatch/Otellini piece doesn't mention "post grant review." It shouldn't have. Get the job right in the beginning and don't waste time on another method to inspect the product. Post-grant review should be eliminated from patent reform proposals.


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