Is the US losing interest in patents?
The IPKat has been reading on eWorldWire about how the number of new patent infringement cases in the US dropped in 2005 by over 10 percent. According to a study by litigation analysis firm LegalMetric, this is an unusual event that bucks the trend: each year from 1994 to 2004 has shown an increase in the number of patent cases over the previous year.
The decline seems to be specific to patent cases. The number of trade mark cases, for example, continued to increase from 2004 to 2005. According to LegalMetric's study, the number of patent cases filed in 2005 was over 200 fewer than predicted, based upon trends from previous years. Newly issued patents fell by 13 percent, also against the run of things.
The IPKat wonder why there should be a drop in litigation. An increase in "invisible" dispute resolution procedures such as mediation and arbitration might be a partial explanation, as might be a higher level of licensing (and cross-licensing) as pooling and cartelisation become more widely accepted as pro- rather than anti-competitive devices in some industrial sectors.
As for the decrease in patent filings, it can't be lack of ambition, lack of protectable innovations or lack of money, he's sure. Could it perhaps be that businesses are investing more in alternative means of protecting their innovations?
Merpel's more suspicious. Can it be that the trolls are waiting till the damages are monumentally high before commencing their litigation?
More on "world treaties"
Further to his recent musings, the IPKat's friend Phill writes again:
"you suggest that it is strange that a 'world treaty' is specified as a Community treaty, so I thought I might give a bit more background. First, Council Decision 2000/278 requires all member States and the EC to ratify the WPPT and WCT together. Further, it is not new for 'world treaties' to be specified. The WTO Agreement (including TRIPS) is also a specified Community treaty (see SI 1995/265).Thanks again, Phill. The IPKat promises not to suggest again that it seems strange that a world treaty is specified as Community legislation (even if it is ...) .
In addition most of the main IP Treaties also impose Community obligations because of the EEA Agreement (which is a Community treaty: see section 1(2) of the European Communities Act 1972). Article 5 of Protocol 28 to the EEA Agreement requires member States to adhere to Berne, Paris, Budapest, Madrid Protocol, PCT, Rome etc by 1 January 1995. Therefore, anything necessary to implement those treaties would (probably) also be a Community obligation and so the relevant provisions could be implemented under section 2(2) of the 1972 Act. Protocol 28 to the EEA is available here".
Ilanah adds her twopence-worth: Contrary to what Jeremy is suggesting, the current way of doing things actually seems to be the most practical. There are 3 options:
(i) allow any treaty that has mixed Community and non-Community obligations to be designated as a Community treaty (this is the current solution);
(ii) forbid any treaty that has mixed Community and non-Community obligations from being designated as a Community treaty (this could make it difficult for the UK to implement its Community obligations and consequently put us in breach of EU law) or
(iii) only allow those elements of treaties which are within the Community sphere of influence to be designated as Community treaties and exclude those elements of treaties which are not Community obligations from being designated (strictly this would be the most legally sound solution, but carving up treaties into their Community and non-Community elements would be an administrative nightmare and again might slow the UK down in fulfilling its Community obligations.