The IPKat is all agog with the breaking news that the UK and US governments have agreed today to develop an action plan for reducing patent processing backlogs in each country's patent office.
Right: it's time to party, as Patent Kats in the UK, USA and Japan prepare to solve their problems by themselves.
According to the UK's own Intellectual Property Office,
"Patent backlogs hinder the deployment of innovation and have clear adverse effects on the global economy. According to a study by London Economics ... [which you can read, in full, all 188 glorious pages of it, here], the first study that attempts to quantify the economic impact of patent backlogs, the cost to the global economy of the delay in processing patent applications may be as much as £7.65 billion each year.There was a bit in the IPO's press release which suggested that the time it takes to process patents necessarily delays innovation. The IPKat thought that this was silly and he omitted it, but the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys (CIPA), in its own "let's get our response in first" press release, said it disagreed with that proposition.
Today, David Lammy, UK Minister of State for Higher Education and Intellectual Property and well-known blogger David Kappos, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), committed both the IPO and the USPTO to develop a plan to optimise reuse of work on patent applications that are filed jointly at the USPTO and the IPO. To this end, the offices will identify all areas of reutilization potential by the end of this calendar year, and will pursue measures designed to facilitate maximum reuse by building confidence in the work done by each office.
David Lammy said: [basically this is a good thing and I'm really pleased we can all be reusing other people's work]
David Kappos said: [I agree -- and isn't it nice to find our own solution instead of having one shoved at us from outsiders?]
Today’s agreement commits the USPTO and UK IPO to a follow on study into the effect of the backlog on competitors [this must refer to competitors of patent applicants, not competing patent offices] and to an ambitious work-sharing collaboration, with the goal of reutilizing each other’s work to the maximum extent possible.
Left: watching pensively through the window, the EPO Kat wonders if he'll ever be invited to join the party.
To this end, the offices will look to establish an office-, as opposed to applicant-, driven system for optimizing availability and reuse of work results on commonly-filed applications ...."
Now here's even more breaking news! As the IPKat's paw presses the 'post' button on this article, he just has time to celebrate the announcement, also from the IPO, that the current pilot Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) scheme between these the UK and Japan will be made permanent, as David Lammy and Deputy Commissioner Minami (Japan Patent Office) chime in unison.
Now for the special treat. The launch event of London Economics' Patent Backlogs and Mutual Recognition: An Economic Study is to be streamed live from Central Hall, Westminster, starting at 9.00 Greenwich Mean Time. Just click here and the rest is your chance to be a witness to living history.
The IPKat is thrilled at this level of cooperation which, he feels, can only lead to good things. Merpel's not quite so confident, since it seems to her that the highly sophisticated but idiosyncratic nature of US patent law and USPTO procedures may render much UK work too different to reuse with confidence (and vice versa).