Promotion of Inventiveness in Developing Countries Through a More Advanced Patent Administration
Robert M. Sherwood
Information Technology Policy, Brazil
Peter Dirk Siemsen
Dannemann, Siemsen, Bigler & Ipanema Moreira
IDEA: The Journal of Law and Technology, Vol. 39, No. 4, Pp. 473-506, 1999
The authors examine the difficulties faced by inventors in developing countries in securing patent protection. They offer proposals for patent administration there to better promote inventiveness.
The paper initially suggests several ways to view the extent of losses suffered by developing countries as the result of impediments to obtaining patent protection there. The authors then assess the major difficulties developing countries confront in administering their patent systems. Among them are the difficulties of fielding a sufficient cadre of patent examiners and providing them with access to the world's body of technical information. How these difficulties impair innovation is shown.
A brief analysis of the ratio of examiners to applications in various developed countries suggests the dilemma developing countries face in sizing their examiner cadre. Then a review of progress in administering patent applications, from microfiche to CD-ROM to full-text searchable databases, points to opportunities for patent office modernization.
To promote innovation, the authors advance four recommendations for patent office administration. One is to concentrate on making technical information, particularly access to published patent applications, more easily and widely available to those contemplating research in developing countries. The aim is to preclude repetitive research. A second recommendation is to develop full-text searchable patent databases for applications in the languages of developing countries. Currently, most applications are in paper format, which renders them nearly inaccessible.
Still another recommendation is that patent offices grant patents immediately after a simple review of the formalities of the documents submitted, without requiring a technical examination relative to the world's body of scientific literature. Such an examination can be performed later, at a time selected by the applicant. This gives the applicant better control of the timing of patent acquisition costs.
A final recommendation urges that patent offices explicitly adopt the practice of granting patents based on reference to corresponding patents granted by any of the major search and examination centers, such as the European Patent Office. The public resources thus saved by not conducting technical examinations locally can then be reallocated to improving public access to technical literature.
The paper concludes with a survey of the implications of these recommendations for inventors, patent lawyers, investors, patent offices and the economy at large.
JEL Classification: O31Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: February 9, 2000
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