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New report highlights need to speed patent examination

Mark Grayson   |     November 2, 2016   |   SHARE THIS

The Center for the Protection of Intellectual Property released a new report, “The Long Wait for Innovation: The Global Patent Pendency Problem,” documenting the growing global challenge of patent pendency – the length of time a patent application is left pending while under review.

The report found that while every country faces its own unique problems related to the backlog of patent applications, new trends and leaders in patent innovation have emerged. For example, countries such as Korea are strengthening commitments to patent processing and currently experiencing pendency of 2.8 years compared to 6.3 years in India.


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Yet several countries are still falling behind the pendency curve. In countries such as Thailand and Brazil, the average time from patent application to approval is 10 years or more. This problem not only affects developing countries, but is a looming challenge in the United States and Europe, both of which are mature economies, governments and bureaucracies.

While the issues of patent rights, effective patent life and research and development investment often lead patent and intellectual property discussions, particularly around biopharmaceutical products, an examination of the systems that process patent applications and inconsistencies in the pendency from country-to-country are often overlooked.

Lost in this is the fact that many countries have patent review and processing systems that have become inefficient and unable to keep pace with the accelerating speed of innovation across all industry sectors, including in the life sciences and biopharmaceutical industry. This translates to a backlog of patent applications, which slows the pace of innovation and the delivery of valuable new products and new treatments for patients.

What’s more is that patent delays also have significant financial repercussions to the global economy. The United Kingdom’s Intellectual Property Office estimated that combined losses from each year of backlog in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Japan Patent Office and European Patent Office cost the global economy more than $10 billion a year.

The issue of patent pendency must be addressed. And the good news is that this is a relatively easy place to build consensus and take proactive action. In many cases, it is as simple as adding more staff, strengthening work sharing arrangements between national patent offices and removing antiquated overlaps in the patent review process.

Mark Grayson

Mark Grayson Mark Grayson is a former deputy vice president of public affairs at PhRMA focusing on intellectual property, trade and international issues.

Topics: Research and Development, Intellectual Property

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