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Patent Offices – The Problem of Profits: What striving for PTO profits can do to a patent system

This project aims to address the economic mechanisms governing or heavily influencing all significant patent offices (PTOs) worldwide. Said mechanisms are not obvious. In some cases, they even are actively obscured, despite their being decisive for every PTO’s key product: patent quality! The reason is money. PTOs on the one hand are key players in all of the world’s patent systems. By the same token they also are cash cows, contributing (up to) several hundreds of millions of USD to their countries’ fiscal budgets. For South Africa, which still is in the process of developing an examining patent office (instead of one merely registering patents), this gives rise to a number of questions:
– How concerned are PTOs with patent quality?
– Which parameters control patent quality?
– What efforts do PTOs put into securing patent quality?
– How do PTOs incentivise examiners?
– Where do PTO profits go?
– What is a strong governance structure for PTOs, around the world and in South Africa?
By finding out more about the ways in which PTOs function, I hope to support South Africa in developing its new system in ways that will avoid sacrificing patent quality in favour of profits – a problem that has become real for a number of big PTOs.


Fellows involved in this project


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Is any information on this page incorrect or outdated? Please notify Ms. Nel-Mari Loock at [email protected].