Partial Patents

Article Source: Columbia Law Review, Vol. 111, No. 2, pp. 208-253, 2011
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Time to Read: 2 minute read
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The authors propose using partial patents to reform the patent system in a way that is both feasible and innovative.


Policy Relevance:

Partial patents, both “Semi” and “Quasi,” present a real and feasible method for reforming the patent system. They present an intermediate form of patent protection that could help fix the patent system at low societal cost.


Key Takeaways:
  • Most current patent reform proposals focus on the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the Federal Circuit as being too lenient in approving patents and too lenient in upholding them.
  • The current patent system is an all or nothing approach—offering either full patent protection—or none at all. This is a sub-optimal approach.
  • A “Quasi-Patent” would only allow the patent holder to enforce that patent against direct competitors who utilize the invention without permission.
  • A “Semi-Patent” has the same basic scope as a regular patent; however, the grant of a “Semi-Patent” is conditional based on the applicant’s consent to publish all research results and information about the application.
  • To start with, “Quasi” and “Semi” patents could be introduced in “communities of innovation,” which are private patent sharing communities, to test their effectiveness prior to introduction into the general patent system.
  • The goals of “communities of innovation” could be realized using partial patents in such example areas as the following: genetics, software, environment, and public health.
  • The main challenges to general adoption of this proposal are generating the necessary political goodwill and convincing inventors to prefer “Quasi” and “Semi” patents over traditional patents.
  • The benefits of this reform proposal are that it does not require major reforms, does not take away inventor’s rights, does not require major change to the USPTO, and it does not require significant expenditures.



Gideon Parchomovsky

About Gideon Parchomovsky

Gideon Parchomovsky specializes in intellectual property, property law, and cyber law. Parchomovsky has already made significant contributions to the field through his wide-ranging scholarship, having written numerous articles for major law reviews on property and liability rules, insider trading, trademarks, domain names, and patents. Most recently, he has been advocating the need for a comprehensive property theory and the need to introduce a value-oriented theory. Parchomovsky has received the A. Leo Levin Award presented to the best teacher of a first-year course.

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Michael Mattioli

About Michael Mattioli

Michael Mattioli is an Associate Professor of Law at the Indiana University Maurer School of Law. He teaches and writes on intellectual property, with a special emphasis on patents, and on contract law. Professor Mattioli's research examines how new forms of knowledge-sharing and collective licensing influence patenting, industrial organization, and the process of innovation itself. He is also an active affiliated faculty member of the Center for Intellectual Property Research.