Hans Dohmen, patent-attorney at AIPEX Partner Firm AOMB, is going into retirement. As Hans was one of the founders of AIPEX, we asked him for his views on IP.
As Hans explains, the principal goal of the patent system is to reward the applicant/inventor for making his new technology publicly accessible, to protect him from the competition for a given time, so as to benefit from his invention. This implies that the applicant/inventor should receive a fair protection based on the effective improvement and contribution to the technology disclosed. While the competition should be able to judge the extent of protection provided, based on a reasonable technical interpretation of the claims. Hans observes two developments that he perceives are harmful to this principal goal.
The emphasis in the European examination proceedings is more and more on a rigid, literal reading of the text of a patent application, rather than to give adequate room for interpretation of the effective improvement and technical contribution made by an inventor. Patent owners, on the other hand, tend to see drafting as a commodity and try to procure this activity against lowest rates, thereby putting pressure on the quality and completeness of a patent application. The basis of a successful patent prosecution is in a creative and conceptually strong description of the new technology. Therefor, Hans advocates to allow patent attorneys to spend suﬃcient time and expertise on drafting as the basis of patenting.
"The principal goal of the patent system is to reward the applicant/inventor for making his new technology publicly accessible, to protect him from the competition for a given time, so as to benefit from his invention"
AIPEX Patent Attorney, Hans Dohmen
Hans further observes that the patent profession becomes a more legal environment than a technology community. Disputes in litigation proceedings, but also in examination and before the Boards of Appeal of the European Patent Office, are rather about legal details and legal rendering, than what technical experts would see as their technological reality. Inventors, those who need the patent system for their innovative activities, fail more and more to understand this. When the wording in a claim is clear in meaning between technicians, a legal dispute will not add value. Hans challenges the European patent attorneys to not let themselves deprived of their technical expertise in patent prosecution!
Although harmful, Hans sees also an opportunity in the above developments. The more stricter rules are applied by the patent offices, the easier it will become to replace examination in future by smart algorithms. No doubts, while drafting a patent application, artificial intelligence will carry out a literature search and examination, such that patent granting will turn into a commodity!
Beating real professional ability will, however, remain a hard job for artificial intelligence.