The United States is about to adopt the Canadian way of granting patents for new inventions.

But some people from the arcane field of intellectual-property rights feel that may not necessarily be a good thing.

Over the next few weeks, the United States Senate is expected to pass the America Invents Act that President Barack Obama will sign — joining Canada and the rest of the world in granting patent protection to the first application submitted.

Currently, the U.S. follows a first-to-invent standard for patent protection. The certificate goes to the person who came up with an idea first — a process fraught with disputes that have bogged down the U.S. Patent Office.

 

In a recent study, University of Pennsylvania law professors David S. Abrams and R. Polk Wagner suggest that corporations and institutions may benefit at the expense of independent inventors with shallow pockets under the new system, which was adopted by Canada in 1989.

The duo found that the number of patents granted to individuals in Canada fell from 11 per cent to 8.5 per cent of the total, between 1983 and 1994 — a period that straddles the change in law.

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