Was it only yesterday that this Kat, in his Wednesday Whimsies, posted a link to the UK Intellectual Property Office's The Patent Guide A handbook for analysing and interpreting patent data, which states:
"At present there are clear differences in perspective between professional patent experts, researchers undertaking patent analysis and the audience for this research, which includes governments, the press, businesses and individuals. Such differences increase the possibility for incorrect analysis or inappropriate interpretation of analysis. Decisions based upon this could be incorrect and potentially harmful".Funnily enough today the European Patent Office publishes some patent data on which this Kat's friends at the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys have already pounced, producing the following media release. Note the headline assertion that British business is failing to protect innovation, then read on. The media release reads, in relevant part:
EUROPEAN FIGURES SHOW THAT BRITISH BUSINESSIS FAILING TO PROTECT INNOVATIONFigures released today ... by the European Patent Office show that, while UK patent filings have increased since last year, domestic businesses are falling behind the rest of Europe in protecting and exploiting their intellectual property.
The EPO released its annual report today which shows that UK filings have increased 4.8% compared to 1.2% average growth across Europe. This was the highest growth in UK filings since 2011.
This Kat wonders how such a depressing conclusion can be drawn from the data in question and he hopes that readers may be able to assist him, either by showing him how it can be done or by showing that it can't. He struggles to understand why either the number of patent filings per $US billion of non-service Gross Domestic Product or the number of patent filings per head of population should reflect a failure to protect innovation, especially whenHowever, the figures also show that of the seven leading European economies, only Italy is below Britain, both in terms of patent filings per $US billion of non-service Gross Domestic Product and per head of population (see graphs).Leading patent attorney Matt Dixon said, on behalf of CIPA: “British businesses need to wake up and realise that patents ... are a key part of everyday innovation strategy. Without protection for their products, British businesses leave themselves wide open to competition from lower cost economies, such as China, who can simply copy technology with impunity. In an innovation economy, where 80% of a business’ assets are intangible, companies cannot afford to fail to protect the fruits of their product development.“The UK is only slightly better than Italy in the rate of European patent filing per head of population and way behind Germany, France, Sweden, Switzerland and the Netherlands.
“Even if account is taken of the UK’s significant service sector, where less patenting would be expected, the picture remains the same; Britain has fallen behind other European countries.”
- the patent system only covers some forms of innovation but not others,
- innovations in, for example, processes which cannot be reverse-engineered may be better exploited commercially by not filing for a patent,
- there exist other intellectual property rights which, when deployed individually or in combination with one another may provide better, longer or cheaper forms of protection,
- the number of patent filings may reflect norms of professional advice which vary as between countries