The US government has announced plans to cut the amount of time it takes to get patents cleared by the US Patent and Trademark Office.
Austan Goolsbee, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, said in a White House Whiteboard briefing that the system for issuing patents is failing. The rate of new patent applications had nearly tripled in the past 20 years, and 700,000 patents are still pending.
Goolsbee pointed out that, when Alexander Graham Bell applied for a telephone patent, it took a month, and the original mobile phone patent took almost two years. Now the delay is over three years and many patents take years more than that.
"Three years is far too long," he said. "Look at the failure rate of new businesses. Over a three-year experience more than a third of them have ceased to exist."
The new plan is to set up a fast-track system that will aim to get important patents issued within 12 months. A review process will also be set up to examine problems with existing patents without companies needing to resort to legal action.
Part of the problem is that the US Patent and Trademark Office is a profitable organisation, but can't keep the money it makes, so the administration will be using its profits to reinvest in the system.
It sounds like a good plan, but Sleuth is sceptical. There's a lot of value for certain people in the current arrangement, and changing things will be tough.
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