The team is joined by GuestKats Mirko Brüß, Rosie Burbidge, Nedim Malovic, Frantzeska Papadopolou, Mathilde Pavis, and Eibhlin Vardy
InternKats: Rose Hughes, Ieva Giedrimaite, and Cecilia Sbrolli
SpecialKats: Verónica Rodríguez Arguijo (TechieKat), Hayleigh Bosher (Book Review Editor), and Tian Lu (Asia Correspondent).

Thursday, 20 October 2005


1 Patents, Economics, policy, measurement ... and the witchcraft of methodology?

The IPKat has just received a copy of Patents, Economics, Policy and Measurement, which he co-blogmeister Jeremy will be reviewing for the CIPA Journal. This book, published by Edward Elgar Publishing, contains a selection of articles summarising "four decades of pioneering research" by iconic innovation economist F. M. Scherer (left).

The IPKat has always been sceptical of the methodology of economic research into (i) the impact of patents on innovation and (ii) the measurement of innovation by reference to patents, for various reasons that include the following:

* many models presuppose a one-to-one correlation between patents and products, which is very often not the case (compare pharmaceuticals with electronics, for example);

* the existence of other IP rights that are used in the innovation process is generally ignored;

* it is tempting to assume that the effect of patents is uniform, whereas their operation is of different effect in different fields of commerce.
The IPKat will be looking carefully for signs of heresy when he reads the work of this distinguished academic. He warns the publishers, though, that he will have struggle to overcome his prejudice against the lazy use of the exhausted cliche of illustrating themes relating to patents and innovation with *%!*&!* lightbulbs.

2 Modernising the UK Patent Rules

All good patent legislation is propped up by a core of implementing rules that flesh out the principle. The UK's Patents Act 1977 has now been modernised to 2004 and is breathtakingly up-to-date, but now the 1995 Rules need some updating too. The UK's user-friendly Patents Office is therefore indulging an another of those popular informal consultation exercises. If you have any questions about the proposed rules revision, or want to make any informal comments, the deadline is 30 November 2005. Please send your thoughts to James Porter here.

Right: Patent Office officials and users of the system see eye to eye over the need for new Rules

Keeping his cats'-ears close to the ground, the IPKat hears that, while so far only the proposed litigation Rules have been made available to the public, other bits of the Rules will be available in time and there will eventually be a formal consultation on a new set of Rules.


Anonymous said...

"IPKat has always been sceptical of the methodology of economic research"

So why not let Lawyers give advice over economic issues. Their methodology might be more suited and provide the wanted results of analysis.


One problem is that lawyers do not understand economic analysis. And they still do not understand that they lack competence to talk about normative patent law.

Let's face it: contrary to popular opinion the economic foundation of the patent system is very weak. Machlup also stressed this inability. However as a restriction to the free market a patent system has to be justified by beneficial incentive effects.

geeklawyer said...

"One problem is that lawyers do not understand economic analysis. And they still do not understand that they lack competence to talk about normative patent law."

Oh, on the contrary, I understand only to well my weaknesses to execute economic analysis: my Amex bill never adds up at the end of the month.

As to the normative criticism: most IP lawyers are, admittedly, mere mechanics rather than design engineers but we know our limits. Some of us, in secret, accept that the economic justification for patents is questionable, at best.

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