In a recent Patently-O report, intellectual property expert Ronald Mann claimed that a study on the European patent system is deeply flawed.
The study, entitled Study on the Quality of the Patent System in Europe, was published by the European Commission and received enthusiastically by many industry analysts.
Mann, a professor of law at Columbia University, argued that industry observers should be wary of the study's findings, since its research was based on problematic methods and data.
One serious issue with the study, according to Mann, is the fact that its figures are based on a relatively small total book of responding companies and universities.
Mann argued that the study cannot draw conclusions from such small samples. Indeed, one table uses data from fewer than 25 companies. "Given the thin description of the sample in the report, it is entirely possible that all of those firms are located in a single country, or even a single city," Mann claimed.
Another key flaw in the study is the type of data used in researching certain questions, according to Mann. One example is the study's comparison of the timeliness of patent granting in the E.U. and the U.S. Instead of using available data on the actual length of time patent processing takes in each system, the study used survey data that polled respondents on their perception of their own system.
According to Mann, the study's importance should not be overplayed, given its problematic data and methods. "This study," he wrote, "falls short of the standards for which academics or serious policy analysts strive."