We don't envy the Americans their IP system -- or do we?

The results of the IPKat's sidebar poll, which closed earlier today, demonstrate clearly that the level of envy which the rest of the world is reputed, most frequently by David ("Dave") Kappos, to feel towards the United State' intellectual property system is by no means as high as has been claimed.

This exercise was generated by two things. The first was a genuine sense of irritation at the message itself and the feeling that, whether the sentiment truly belonged to David or was regularly dropped into his set-piece speeches by zealous aides and assistants, it was very seriously wrong and would be more likely cause damage, in persuading Americans that this was so, than to achieve anything concrete by persuading non-US folk of the virtues of US IP laws.  The second was a desire to test out the power of the social media to put a proposition to proof and see what evidence existed.

The final figures are as follows:
Do you envy the US its patent system? (300 responses)

Yes, it's brilliant 19 (6%)
Maybe, if the America Invents Act works out 28 (9%)
No way! 253 (84%)

Do you envy the US its trade mark system? (170 responses)

Sure, it's great for owners, competitors and consumers 23 (13%)
I might if I could only understand the Lanham Act 41 (24%)
Never! It's convoluted, complex and contradictory 106 (62%)

Do you envy the US its copyright system? (162 responses)

You bet! Google could not have been created anywhere else 18 (11%)
I might if there was some consensus as to what it actually is 56 (34%)
Not in this life or for many years beyond it! 88 (54%)
Eagle-eyed readers will note that, in each case, the aggregated percentages reach just 99, not 100; this is the result of the Google poll app rounding figures up or down to the nearest whole number.  They will also spot that the number of responses to the patent question substantially exceeds the responses to the trade mark and copyright questions.  Merpel thinks she can explain this: some voters may have clicked on each of their preferred answers and then pressed the Vote button just once, assuming that it would work for all three.

Says the IPKat, now that we've established that we don't envy the United States its patent system, let's now see if in reality there are bits of it which we do envy, if only we are honest.  A brand new set of three questions has just been posted in the side bar for your consideration. Please do tell us what you think!

The first relates to the US Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator (IPEC), an office which has the ear of the White House and which enables the various public services involved in customs, criminal enforcement, export control, overseas aid to outsourcing IP owners -- and more besides -- to work more effectively together and understand each other's issues.

The second relates to the International Trade Commission (ITC), a Federal agency which has a remit that includes dealing with alleged importation of infringing products, anti-dumping and other international trade issues that are of concern to IP owneers -- and which has powerful remedial powers.

The third relates to the user interface and online services of the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), one of the world's leading offices in terms of processing applications and grants for registered rights and which has long had a formative influence on the storage, search, translation, access, examination and grant practices of many other offices.

As before, the three questions occupy the top berth in the IPKat's sidebar poll. Next week, with luck, we'll have some fascinating figures.
We don't envy the Americans their IP system -- or do we? We don't envy the Americans their IP system -- or do we? Reviewed by Jeremy on Wednesday, January 09, 2013 Rating: 5


  1. Although I do not get patents granted in the U.S. any more (thanks to KSR I guess), I have to say that the quality of the search carried out by the U.S. Examiner during substantial examination is excellent. Alas, in my technical field, which is somewhere in the mechanical sciences, the quality of the EPO search is poor to say the least.

  2. Having been put through the wringer by this screwed-up, inefficient, backlog-hampered, protectionist outfit, they deserve any criticisms levelled at them... like they could care less.

    And given the 'support' offered here to help with abuses heaped on any daring to enter the US closed shop, from IPO to UKTI, I don't anticipate many changes any time soon.

    As it stands, I now consider IP to be merely a job creation scheme for brochure-cranking, PR-addicted 'business-related' trade bodies and legions of lawyers to pad out their kids college funds.

  3. I know that it's something which is impossible to do, but if you had a 'control' question like 'What do you think of American values and the American way of life' that you would allow you to see how many responders are simply anti-American, and thus more likely to also dislike its IP systems. You say that you've now established we don't envy the US its patent system. However perhaps what has actually been established is that we're not too fond of Americans (here in the UK).

  4. This may surprise you, but as a politician for the Pirate Party, and a member of Legal Affairs committee of the European Parliament, my answer is:

    Well, IPKat, in a way I do sort of envy the US its patent system :)


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