by: Joseph Page
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Patent Law Harmonization

Patent laws converge


Patent reform is sometimes directed to 'Harmonization'. Harmonization is a word used mostly by those who wish to change the United States patent laws. Harmonization is a powerful word. It imparts a very 'warm fuzzy' feeling. Harmony is good. When things exist in harmony, all is well and copasetic. The world sings in perfect harmony. Unfortunately, the masses are buying it.
But why would one wish to harmonize with something that is clearly defective and broken? Why would the United States want to change their patent laws which have a history of over 200 years of very high performance? Why would the United States want a patent system 'in harmony' with that of Europe which remains a mess? The answers to these questions are unfortunately less than pleasant. There is a strong lobby in the world to weaken the US patent system. Some who prefer to do business with a component of copying in their product offerings find the strong patent system of the United States quite annoying. China in particular has a business philosophy which doesn't so much respect intellectual property, but rather is heavily engaged in the 'knock-off' mentality of copying the works of others. China is incensed whenever someone suggests they pay a royalty for intellectual property – to them, copying is just fair play of the business nimble. They look at patents with great distain.
However, as is quite apparent from exceptional venture capital community of Palo Alto, California, the heart of Silicon Valley, and American start-up success, the patent systems is protecting a HUGE industry not found in competing systems. Take Europe for example, entrepreneurs simply don't have the belief they can form a start up as do young American's in California who are regularly given millions of investment dollars to launch the next new project. 'Risk Capital' or 'Venture Capital' of the entire Europe is less than 1/10 that which is spent each year by firms on Sand Hill. Not only that, but that money is spent in lower risk established old companies – but not in those very young start-ups.
In large part, this is due to the fantastic promise of a return possible when a start-up company hits pay-dirt. Where there is no reliable patent portfolio – investment dollars are largely not available because a competitor can copy the business formula and catch-up in a short time. In Europe where patents are nearly impossible to enforce well due to the widely varying rules from nation-to-nation, Venture Capital is largely unavailable to start-up companies and these companies do not rise up from nothing at the blistering pace well known and enjoyed by California entrepreneurs.
So who wants to 'Harmonize' the US patent system with those patent systems of the rest of the world? Those who will benefit from a weakened US Patent system – love 'harmonization'. to be in harmony with the Europe patent system is to put an end to the US patent system strengths and to put an end to US dominant entrepreneurship.

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