Friday fantasies

Some great events are going "cheep" ...
Registration discounts reminder. Many of the events listed on the IPKat's Forthcoming Events page (which you can access here) have registration fee discounts -- sometimes quite substantial -- for readers of this weblog.  Some other listed events are free to attend. Do check the list from time and see what takes your fancy.  Among the forthcoming attractions in early September are a well-informed seminar on the UK's Patent Box, held in London, and a European Patent Reform Forum (with free admission for academics and in-housers), which takes place both in Munich and, two days later, in Paris.

Small surprise?  "Patent examiners more likely to approve marginal inventions when pressed for time" is the not-quite-shock-horror headline of a post in (e) science news [Merpel bets that there are lots of other things they're likely to do when pressed for time, like scalding themselves with their first coffee of the day.  This Kat, who has spent most of his adult life marking university examination papers, wonders whether the same applies to them]. However, while we all knew that, we can now point to solid research that shows we were right all along. With support from the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, Melissa Wasserman (University of Illinois) and Michael D. Frakes (Northwestern University School of Law, Illinois) performed a data analysis on 1.4 million patent applications considered by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) between 2002 and 2012. They cross-referenced their analysis with examiner roster data obtained through a series of Freedom of Information Act requests from the USPTO. This research revealed that an examiner's promotion to each subsequent step-up in pay equated to a 10 to 15 percent decrease in the number of hours allocated to review a patent application. Examiners operating at the highest level were expected to review an application in about half the time allocated to examiners at the lowest level, according to the paper. Assuming that patent examiners who are given sufficient time to review applications will, on average, make the correct patentability determinations, the results suggest that the time allotments are inducing higher ranked patent examiners to grant invalid patents.  There's lots more in this post, so do follow it up if you are interested.

Technophobia can be diagnosed even in the very
young. At 18 months, Timmy still isn't texting ...
Mark your diary if you are a bit of an IP technophobe.  A novel and somewhat experimental conference, "Intellectual Property: The “No-Patents” Round-Up for Non-Techie People", is being run in Central London on 29 October 2014. Organised by CLT, this event is predicated by the belief that many people who would otherwise enjoy conferences that offer round-ups of recent IP development will tend to avoid them if they have to sit through one or more talks on patents, either because they can't  stand them or because they can't understand them.  Further details of this programme will be supplied soon. This blog has an interest in the day having a successful outcome: IPKat blogmeister Jeremy is in the chair and recent guest blogger Darren Meale is speaking.

Monkey selfies: the poll.  The 1709 Blog's sidebar poll on copyright in and control of photos taken by black-crested macaques, and indeed any other mammals, is now going strong.  At the time of posting this round-up, 127 people have already responded. In addition to the guest Katpost by Estelle Derclaye, fellow Kat Eleonora has posted a brief summary of the issue here on the 1709 Blog. Do please remember to participate. Every vote counts! Who knows, the World Intellectual Property Organization might yet feel obliged to set up a brand-new Spontaneously Created Works Division ...

Around the weblogs. PatLit reports on the Danish agreement with the European Union to bring its laws on the enforcement of civil judgments in line with the rest of the EU in anticipation of its participation in the Unified Patent Court Agreement.  The IP Finance blog continues to be busy this week, with Mike Mireles' post on patent trolls from the 19th century and a guest piece from Ilya Kazi on whether a 'pre-nup' might have eased the tensions between former friends Microsoft and Samsung. and here's something from a former Kat: Mark Schweizer, writing on the MARQUES Class 46 weblog, tells us what we've all been waiting to hear, which is that Absinthe -- whatever else it might be -- is not a protected geographical indication in Switzerland.
Friday fantasies Friday fantasies Reviewed by Jeremy on Friday, August 15, 2014 Rating: 5


  1. Re: high ranking Examiners letting marginal cases through, reminds me of the Peter Principle where people are promoted to until they reach their position of incompetence, and then of course they won't be promoted further.

  2. RE:Re: Peter Principle where people are promoted to until they reach their position of incompetence, and then of course they won't be promoted further.

    20 years ago in school, we were forbidden to think that we are not familiar with a problem or cannot do something. instead we had to start estimating the time and way to a solution/result.

    My modest opinion, probably known since long time ago, is that people are promoted in a way to minimise (financial)efforts while maximising the result of a system as whole. That means that individual promotion depends on parameters/parts of the system and only partially depends on personal performance.

    About examiners, doing things fast is a matter of training. If one trains a specific skill, one gets this specific skill. Nothing else...

    Also, Anon 1312 forgets about motivation of examiners. Professionals, they like cars, ones that drive fast, safe with beautiful design cost more. When you think to buy a car, some concessions to be made.

  3. My experiences in the UK Patent Office in the 1970's and 80's are consistent with the researcher's conclusions. The higher the output, the sooner the promotion to Senior Examiner. The technique adopted by certain individuals was to only search the most recent documents and not search in other headings where prior art might be found. The fewer the citations, the shorter the official letter. Only the search and the issue of the first examination report counted to wards output. We had one individual drafted in to help out on a temporary basis where I had to re-search his cases (for which I got no performance points) and apologise to the applicant in the next official letter for the newly-cited, highly relevant, prior art not having been found earlier.

    The more responsible examiners just shrugged it off, as it just meant that they got promoted a couple of years later than the high performers, and you would all end up at the top of the senior examiner pay scale eventually. However, when performance related pay was introduced in the late 1980's, not only was there possibility of these high output examiners jumping pay steps, but there were extra points above the normal scale maximum that were only available to those with high performance (= high output), which was rather demotivating to those who did things properly.


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