Some Issues in Patent Harmonization: An Exploratory Note

Intellectual Property and Patents

Article Snapshot


Kaz Miyagiwa



This paper considers if U.S. patent law should be more like that of other nations.

Policy Relevance

The U.S. should consider preserving some unique rules that might benefit inventors. Software patents are needed to support growth.

Main Points

  • Ironing out differences between nations’ patent laws simplifies patent application and verification. Nations can use patent law to harm outsiders, and harmonization prevents this.


  • However, no one knows which patent system is best.


  • The Unites States should consider preserving unique rules that might be beneficial to innovators, including:
    • The confidentiality of patent applications.
    • The rule that a patent is awarded to the first to invent, not the first to file.


  • International patent pools could gain some of the benefits of harmonization without sacrificing beneficial rules.


  • Europe embraced open source to catch up to the United States in software, but this strategy is not likely to work because Europe lacks software patents. 

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