Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Patents in China: Quantity Obsessed Quality Challenged

Time for quality patents
Photo: Danny Friedmann
Now we are all following Ericsson sueing ZTE for patent infringement in Germany, UK and Italy, read here. Followed of course by ZTE trying to invalidate Ericsson's patent at China's Patent Re-examination Board, read here, because of an alleged lack of novelty, inventiveness or usefulness. In other words: lack of quality.

Wan Gang 万钢 minister of Science and Technology, was saying some remarkable things about innovation that might bode not too well for patent quality, when he was interviewed during a press conference held by the State Council Information Office, April 2 about China's scientific and technological research as outlined in the 12th Five-Year Plan.

Minister Wan was quoted by the Global Times saying that China's budget for research and experiment across the country should account for 2.2 percent of GDP. And that the number of patent-holders per 10,000 people should be the second benchmark.

One can question the usefulness of the latter benchmark. What kind of patents are meant, utility patents which are for incremental innovations, design-patents or invention patents? Read more about utility patent here. Quantity does not say much about the quality of patents. And patents are preoccupied with usefulness (article 22 Patent Law 2008), and scientific discoveries (article 25.1 Patent Law 2008) are excluded of getting a patent. while it could be the case that fundamental research is most fruitful in the longer run.

Read the interview at Global Times here.

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