One in three intellectual property experts worry about low-quality US patents

 
Clara Guibourg
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Unilever files more patents than any other UK company (Source: Getty)

Are sloppy US patents hurting investments into research and development?

One in three intellectual property experts are concerned over the poor quality of US patents, according to a new report from trade publication IAM.

This could potentially hurt research investments, as investors struggle to assess the strength of patent portfolios, or send litigation costs soaring.

Joff Wild, editor of IAM, said companies will turn to keeping trade secrets if the patent system doesn’t work properly:

This use of trade secrets stifles creativity in the long terms as it makes it harder for each generation to build on the innovations of their predecessors.

European patents appear to be made of sturdier stuff, as only eight per cent of the experts surveyed said that the quality of patents from this area were poor or just adequate.

The UK, generally lambasted for its dismissive attitude to intellectual property, files far fewer patents than the EU average, with countries like Sweden and Germany filing 3.5 times more patents.

Even Unilever, the most prolific UK company with 226 patents filed last year, files barely a tenth as many as the world’s most enthusiastic patenter, Korean Samsung.

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