IBM top-scores again in USA

This item on The Register caught the IPKat's eye, largely on account of its title: "IBM looks to patent new system for patenting patents". The article isn't quite as exotic, though it tells of IBM's now boringly predictable lead at the top of the USPTO's annual list of top patentees. For the record, IBM received 2,941 patents in 2005, with is nearest competitor Cannon Kabushiki Kaisha a distant second at 1,828.

What IBM says about patents, licensing and technical disclosures
What others say about IBM and patents here, here and here

UK government v UK Patent Office?

An article in today's Telegraph must have had some readers choking over their muesli. It relates the saga of the UK's implementation of Directive 2001/84 on the resale right for the benefit of the author of an original work of art (see earlier IPKat blog here). The article reads, in part:
"Tony Blair and his ministers have been treated with contempt by officials of the Patent Office, in the uniquely damaging way they have chosen to implement an EC directive long resisted by the Government as destructive to Britain's art market. Other foreign governments which supported Mr Blair are amazed to see his officials going out of their way to exceed the requirements of EU law by making the directive much more harmful to British interests than it need be. [...]

The British Art Market Federation (supported by many well-known artists) argued that this would simply drive out business to those countries where droit de suite doesn't apply, and they made their case so powerfully that in 1999 Mr Blair told his fellow heads of government it would be crazy for the EU to impose the system unless countries such as the US and Switzerland agreed to follow. He even spoke of using the "Luxembourg Compromise", a device invented by de Gaulle (left, for a change), giving a country the right to veto EC legislation it considers a threat to a "vital national interest".

Although the British, Dutch and Austrian governments won concessions, such as a postponement until 2012 of the really damaging application of droit de suite to dead artists, such as Picasso, they were outvoted. The European Parliament then ratcheted up its effects by squeezing down the threshold at which it applies to just €3,000 (£2,070), much lower than the €10,000 (£6,830) that the UK wanted to see.

But the paperwork involved in droit de suite is so complex that, on a transaction of €3,000, the administration costs to dealers - along with the fee due to a body called the Design and Artists Copyright Society (DACS) for disbursing the money - will be as much as the amount passed on to the artists themselves [ ... ]

Only at the very last minute [...] did the Patent Office publish its regulation on how the directive, due to come into force two weeks later, was to be applied. Astonishingly, following deft lobbying by the DACS, this has lowered the threshold even further, to a mere €1,000 (£683). At this level the cost of collection will be double the amount that the artist will receive (while the DACS will continue to collect its fees, and many more of them).

This is extraordinary. No other country is introducing the directive in this way. Indeed, ironically, the French, who set this whole process going, are themselves so irked by the directive they have postponed implementing it [...]

The regulation cannot take effect until it has been discussed by the Lords on January 24, then by a Commons committee. If only for the sake of Mr Blair's amour propre, they should chuck it out and tell those mad officials to stick to EU law".
The IPKat is very fond of the UK Patent Office and, having had first-hand experience of it over the past couple of decades, he very much doubts that it would go out of the way to harm anyone's interests or increase bureaucratic hassle on its own volition. He wishes he could say the same about the UK government ...

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