A recently released report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development suggests that the declining quality of patent filings observed in the past two decades may now be stifling innovation.
According to the OECD's Science, Technology and Industry Scoreboard 2011, patent quality dropped by a global average of 20 percent through the 1990s and 2000s. The United States, Germany and Japan continued to have the most highly-cited patents, reflecting a true measure of innovation as their inventions are being incorporated into the products of other developers.
Yet even among these top three countries, substandard patent quality may be having an effect. Between 1996 and 2000, the U.S., Germany and Japan accounted for about 70 percent of the top 1 percent of most-cited patents. Five years later, that figure dropped to 60 percent.
Congressional leaders recently attempted to address this issue with the passage of the America Invents Act, but some in the business community have suggested that reform did not go far enough in reducing barriers to innovation.
For example, a petition posted this week on the White House website calling for an end to software patents has garnered the minimum amount of signatures required to merit a response. According to TheHill.com, petitioners are asking the Patent Office to void all software patents and help support "one of the few industries still going strong in America."