Why the USPTO changed software patent eligibility guidelines?

China’s technological dominance impacts economic, military and geopolitical balance of power.

  1. Today over 600,000 United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) patents are issued each year while China’s National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA) issues over 2,000,000 patents a year. While the value of two million CNIPA patents each year is questionable, it does illustrate China’s IP based approach to technological superiority.
  2. In 2018, China received nearly half (46.4%) of all World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) patents applications [2 WIPO]. If current trends hold, China will overtake the US in WIPO Patents In Force within the next decade. (See Figure 1 below)
  3. Over half of essential 5G patents are owned by Chinese companies like Huawei, ZTE and others. The top 10 Universities that own 5G patents are all Chinese Universities. [1 WIPO] Historically China technology companies licensed and paid royalties for 3G and 4G patents from US, EU and South Korean technology companies and Universities. This trend will reverse with 5G technologies as US and EU technology companies will now pay licensing royalties to Chinese companies and universities. [4 Wall Street Journal]
  4. China businesses and universities now possess five times the number of Quantum Communications and Cryptography patents. [5 MIT Technology Review] China leads the US in Quantum Cryptography and Communication with a functional Quantum Network connecting Beijing, Shanghai, Hefei and several other cities, as well as a functional Quantum Satellite (Mozi) designed to provide a Quantum Cryptographic Secure Internet to all of China. Quantum Cryptography is unbreakable even with Quantum Computers. [8 Forbes]
  5. We thought the US was leading in Quantum Computing when Google recently announced they hit Quantum Supremacy, demonstrating they can solve a problem on a quantum computer exponentially faster than a classical computer. However, in a matter of days the University of Science and Technology in China announced it had achieved Quantum Supremacy with their all-optical quantum computer. Quantum Computers render all classical cryptography obsolete. [8 Forbes]
Figure 1

Every innovation leader should brace for a rapid increase in the number of software patents in force

Prediction: By 2030 we will experience 2x to 4x increase of patents filed and in force.

  1. Abstract Ideas are now patentable
  2. An entirely new class of software patent types is now available — it’s a “Great Digital Land-Grab”
  3. The patent process is more predictable with more relable outcomes and therefore less risky to operationalize
Head shot of Alan Rodriguez

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