Improved Patent Information Disclosure and Access for Incremental Innovation
Chapter 5: Access to and retrieval of patent documents
Access to and retrieval of patent documents are directly associated with the central hypothesis of this book, in so far as they permit use and exploitation of patent information for development. This chapter, therefore, argues that patent information users – particularly those in the developing world – suffer disadvantage as a result of barriers to accessing patent documents and inadequacies in the means of retrieving appropriate technologies. The estimated number of patent documents available worldwide is 90 million. These are largely accessible online through the EPO’s patent database. Of these documents, the total number of patents in force is estimated at 10.2 million in 2014. This implies that around 80 million patent documents ought to be in the public domain, which is a normative status that grants a presumptive right to utilise information relating to existing works, particularly inventions. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has the largest number of patents in force, with 2.53 million patents followed by the Japanese Patent Office (JPO) that has a substantial number of patents in force: 1.92 million. The number of patents in force at the State Intellectual Property Office of the People’s Republic of China (SIPO) has exceeded for the first time 1 million patents in 2013 to reach 1.2 million in 2014. Japan represents one of the most important sources of Asian patent information. The requirement for the extension of the patent term was lowered in 2000, as well as the term of protection.
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