A new, and rather disturbing, feature recently appeared on the website of the UK-IPO (thanks to G for pointing the IPKat to it). This is, on the face of it at least, a rather harmless game called 'Patent Pit', which seems to have been rather heavily inspired by (though obviously in no way infringing any intellectual property in) the BBC's Dragons' Den. Instead of the real life characters of Theo, Peter, Duncan, Deborah and James, however, we have the cartoon characters of Novelty Norvello, Inventive Igor and Marketing Marion, with the game being hosted by Evan Davies lookalike, Filament Fred. IPKat readers may recall that these characters came to light recently in the form of UK trade mark applications made last month, at which point we were only previously aware of Fred's existence in the form of the grotesque guide to the IPO's Annual Review of 2007 (danger: BIG pdf download).
Friday, 19 December 2008
The game itself involves picking an 'invention' (and trying not to pick a 'non-invention', such as Beethoven's fifth symphony on a clearly patentable tape recorder- the less said about this bit, the better), and then getting it past all three dragons by showing it to be novel, inventive and worth selling (since when has this been a requirement for getting a patent?).
The IPKat wasted an enjoyable few minutes playing the game, and managed to get maximum points by picking the lava lamp and answering the rather odd questions in the way he thought they needed to be answered (just like taking the UK finals then, really). One particular point, however, made him think about whether the Patent Office (to use their proper title) have really thought all this through as an educational tool, which presumably it is intended to be. The picture below, where Norvello demonstrates the principle of novelty, illustrates the point:
The caption reads "So to prove novelty, you [i.e. the player] have to search as many sources as you can to make sure no other invention shares the same features or functions as yours". Now, the IPKat may be being a bit picky here, but he was under the distinct impression that it was the primary job of the Patent Office to search as many sources as they could to make sure that no other invention shared the same features or functions. Obviously it's all very good if a patent applicant has already done a fair bit of searching and not found anything that anticipates his invention, but it is a bit misleading, to say the least, to suggest that this would be enough to get a patent, or indeed that it was the applicant's responsibility to prove novelty.
Does all this suggest that the UK Patent Office, like the USPTO, in reality (rather than in cartoon land) wants to give up on searching for prior art and instead leave examination to the applicant? The IPKat thinks we should be told the truth.
Merpel wonders what happened to Clarity Clare; she couldn't find her anywhere in the Pit. Has clarity gone out the window as a patentability requirement (to be replaced by marketability perhaps)?