back to article EU, US edge closer to mega-transatlantic patent system

The US and European Patent Offices have moved a step closer to a universal patent system by officially publishing their new Cooperative Patent Classification system. Released today in draft form, the Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC) system comes into effect from 1 January 2013. It means that both the States and Europe …


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  1. John H Woods Silver badge


    ... the USA could clearly use a patent system more like ours. So it's totally going to happen that way round.

    1. Arctic fox

      Re: "Well..." I am assuming that you were of course being ironic :)

      What of course we have every reason to fear is that the influence of the large European and American corporations will tend to ensure that we get the worst of all possible worlds.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Well...

      The "European Patent Office" is "European" just in a cargo-cult push to embiggen itself and AFAIK is a Grand Defender of the US way of Patenteering.

      Don't get your hopes up anything. This can only end in FAIL and AIDS.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Uh oh

    I don't think I'm all that happy with a joint patent system. Especially seeing how the USPTO is far too lax in checking them, just assigning as many as possible to work through the backlog, and with rising arguments that the system as is, is actually counter-productive toward the original goals of fostering invention. Instead, we're creating a unified playing field for patent trolls and other deep-pocketed parties to slug it out, and not just among themselves either. Patent event horizon, anyone?

    1. beast666
      Thumb Up

      Re: Uh oh

      Upvote for patent event horizon, spot on!

  3. Daniel 23

    Turns out Apple holds a patent on the idea

    This is my nomination for tagline of the week.

    1. Ammaross Danan

      Re: Turns out Apple holds a patent on the idea

      Apple doesnt have patents beforehand, they take existing tech and repatent them. Therefore, Apple is currently preparing to patent said combined system...on a capacitive device...with rounded corners.

  4. Roger Greenwood

    "separate section Y dedicated to technology patents"

    No other letter of the alphabet could be more appropriate.

  5. Daz555

    I have a feeling that this will destroy our own superior (yes still flawed) patent system. US system is a disgrace.

  6. Kevin Johnston Silver badge

    Oh please

    'making sure that searches of prior art are more effective '

    Please please tell me this was meant to be sarcasm.........

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "In less than two years, we have finalised and published a joint scheme incorporating the best classification practices of both offices"

    They found something from the US patent office that was best? If it's anything more significant than a font or a cheap paperclip supplier then we should be afraid, very afraid.

    1. g e

      The best?

      Well. Least shit, anyway.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      What's not to like about the American patent system? Very few things produce as much money for lawyers as the US Patent system and lots of people that work in the civil service are Lawyers. Also it allows the US to block pesky foreign things without being accused of being protectionist. Note this will still only help the US as it will ensure that no European invention is ever patented over and above a US invention.

      The flow chart will probably go

      "is it an invention" -> yes "Is it European?" -> yes -> "Check there is no American prior art or registered patent" -> "There isn't any" -> "Invention isn't patentable"

      "Is it an invention" -> yes "Is it American?" -> yes -> "Give it a patent"

      Anyway we just need to live the fact that innovation in the west is slowly dying and we're heading for a brand new dark ages where China & co will do all the innovating and we'll release a new sitcom and a few new bands and a lot of new red tape. A bit like that Chinese emperor that outlawed expansion (to the point that building an ocean faring boat was a capital offence) and new ideas as China was obviously the pinical of civilization and would never need new things.

  8. MrXavia
    Big Brother

    Article 52 of the European Patent Convention?

    I hope this means the US Patent Office be forced to accept Article 52 of the European Patent Convention

    The European Patent Convention (EPC), Article 52, paragraph 2, excludes from patentability, in particular

    discoveries, scientific theories and mathematical methods;

    aesthetic creations;

    schemes, rules and methods for performing mental acts, playing games or doing business, and programs for computers;

    presentations of information.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Article 52 of the European Patent Convention?

      Sadly it probably means fuck you EU, we're the USA and have lots of guuuuuuuuns and A-Bombs.

    2. Displacement Activity

      Re: Article 52 of the European Patent Convention?

      Sadly, Article 52 doesn't appear to exclude Elephant-shaped buildings, perpetual-motion machines, comb-overs, and the like, so it's not much use here.

  9. Evil Auditor Silver badge


    So in the future it will also be possible to patent rectangles in Europe...

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is very bad

    It's a mediaeval intellectual land-grab.

  11. Mystic Megabyte

    No f***ing joke!

    So if I get caught on CCTV holding my phone in the Apple patented method* I will be extradited and jailed in the USA.

    *between thumb and forefinger, other fingers raised vertically to enhance signal

  12. Anonymous Coward

    God no

    Just no.

    1. Nick G

      Re: God no

      My thoughts exactly when I read the headline...

  13. CABVolunteer

    What are these "major efficiency savings"?

    The CPC project is entirely laudable (what's taken them so long?). But I question Benoît Battistelli's prediction of "major efficiency savings". Just where do these savings come from? At the end of the EPO press release there is: "It is also expected to enhance efficiency by supporting work-sharing initiatives designed to reduce unnecessary work duplication", but that doesn't sound "major". In fact, what does it mean? Does it mean "we're planning to match applications submitted to both USTPO and EPO, to assign the research to one or other office and to grant or reject patents as if they were one organisation"? I share the fears of what might be EPO's unspoken long-term goal implied by "the CPC will be a stepping stone towards a more general harmonisation of the world's patent systems".

    Anyway, what practical difference will this unified classification scheme make to the USTPO? I thought, perhaps I'm wrong, that USTPO were constrained in where to look for prior art, and it doesn't include non-US patents. So how would being able to search European patents just as easily as US patents save them any effort? And that's making the enormous assumption that the USTPO does search their own patents for prior art before granting a patent........

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  15. Michael Shaw

    And what about existing patents?

    Does this mean the existing US patents will be valid in Europe?

    1. Dazed and Confused

      Re: Does this mean the existing US patents will be valid in Europe?

      I bet this is exactly what this means.

      In case of all conflicts, the European patent holder will be put against the wall and shot, so as not to spoil the US lawyers gravy train. It make such a mess of your suit if you spill gravy all over it.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Does this mean the existing US patents will be valid in Europe?

        No, having a European (or American) patent holder (or even applicant) shot would spoil the attorneys' gravy-train.

  16. 100113.1537

    Forget US-EU harmonization.....

    there is still no agreement on European patents yet!

    Each country still has to ratify each patent application - the only common element is the review by the EPO. Admittedly, the hold-up is mostly about which languages patents have to be translated into, but so far, all patent legislation in the world in national.

    All they are talking about is the classification system to make searching for prior art easier. As someone who has done a lot of searching for prior art, this probably won't make a lot of difference as both the EU and US use the IPC classification already, but let's see how it comes out in the wash. My big worry is how they will handle the existing databases - is everything going to be re-coded?

    As to the various merits of the US vs EU system, I don't think either of them can claim any moral high ground and both have been guilty of stupid decisions in the past. Remember it was a German court that accepted the doctored photos as evidence of infringement in Apple's case against Samsung (which just goes to show how non-European the EU system is as other countries threw the case out).

    1. Dazed and Confused

      Re: Forget US-EU harmonization.....

      The above quoted set of rules would have laughed the whole case out of court and told Apple to go away and grow up.

      The country patent offices are still keen to patent things that are obviously banned by the rules as it encourages more patents to be filed and therefore more patent clerks get jobs and patent bosses get bigger empires and therefore are bigger cheeses.

  17. JaitcH

    So that's part of the solution, now what about ...

    Asia? China, and other countries, have patents, does this mean they are left out swinging on the end of a rope?

    Australia has some very interesting patents, New Zealand a few less.

    Now what?

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cooperative Patent Classification system will consist of the following classes:

    Good patent worthy of protection - 6%

    So much gobbledegook even a patent attorney can't make sense of it - 9%

    Patent for an idea instead of a specific implementation - 24%

    Patent for something that already exists "in a mobile device", etc. - 47%

    Patent for something no one will ever use because you get a bonus from your company - 11%

    Patent for something years ahead of when it's possible hoping to profit later - 3%

    Patent for the idea of having stuff adding up to over 100% - 1%

  19. Andus McCoatover


    I've just been hit by an avian pig....

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