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Petty Patents
Kirt's Cogitations™ #187

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Petty Patents

Do you believe that some patents are downright... petty? If you are referring to the special class of Petty Patents offered by many non-U.S. countries, then you might be unwittingly paying homage to the grantee. Germany (since 1891), Japan (since 1905), Italy (1940), Greece (1987), Finland (1991), Denmark (1992) and Austria (1994), China (1985), Taiwan, South Korea, Turkey, Ireland, and many other countries issue what are termed Petty Patents or Utility Patents or 2nd Tier Patents. These legal devices allow inventors to obtain a degree of protection against thievery, albeit they are typically more difficult to defend than full-fledged patents. Petty Patents are usually awarded for a term of 4 to 10 years, depending on the country, are issued at a much lower cost and in a much shorter time than are Standard Patents. Because of their lower status, many people refer to the patents as a Booby Prize Patent or a Patent Lite.

To help remedy the situation, Australia recently implemented an Innovation Patent to replace the Petty Patent. Re the Innovation Patent, "The new system is aimed to provide quick, simple and affordable rights for up to 8 years from the date of filing the application. An Innovation patent may have a maximum of 5 claims, all of which can take an independent form. Unlike Petty Patent applications, applications for Innovation patents are not examined prior to grant. While the prior art base, and the scope of protection offered by an Innovation patent is the same as that for a Standard patent, the threshold required for inventiveness differs. In contrast to a Standard patent, there is no requirement that the invention claimed in an Innovation patent be non-obvious. The only requirement is that the invention as claimed must make a substantial contribution to the working of the invention. In cases where an invention does not provide a substantial difference over existing technology, it should be possible to obtain broader protection through an Innovation patent than a Standard patent."

OK, so that is Government's idea of improving a situation. The difference sounds rather...petty.

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