Limiting Patent using TRIZ method, is it possible?

Sunday, March 12, 2006

I have discussed a little in my previous post, my worries that nano-divide will occur if nanotech design technologies are patented. Now I am trying to explain the categorization of "degree" of invention in order to value its importance. Presumably, if a degree of an invention can be identified, we will be able to set limitation of IPR protection toward the invention (I hope I am making myself clear with this, its rather difficult for me to say this in words, but the pictures are in my mind).
There is this theory called TRIZ, a Russian acronym for "Teoriya Resheniya Izobretatelskikh Zadatch" or “Theory of Inventive Problem Solving (TIPS.)” in English. The concept was developed by a Soviet patent specialist, Genrich Altshuller, while working with the erstwhile Soviet navy in the 1970s and 1980s.
As discussed in Rob Millard's blog, according to Altshuller, there are 5 characteristics of findings:

Level 1: Apparent Solution, is a routine problem solved by methods well understood in the field, and probably within the personal knowledge base of the innovator. Probability = 1:10 with 32% of patents fell into this category.

Level 2 : Minor Improvement, renders minor improvement to an existing system, by methods well understood within the field, usually with some compromise and typically utilizing knowledge that would have been available in the innovator’s organization. Probability= 1:100 with about 45% of patents fell into this category.

Level 3 : Major Improvement, constitute fundamental improvements to an existing system by methods from outside the field (i.e. not known within the field) with level 2 compromises and contradictions resolved, typically using knowledge from outside the organization but from elsewhere in the same field (or profession.) A “hit rate” of 1 winner per 1000 ideas is typical with about 18% of patents fell into this category.

Level 4 : New Concept, is a new generation solution using an entirely different and new principle to drive or perform the primary functions of the system. The solution is derived more from pure science or original knowledge than from technology or extrapolation of other applied knowledge. A “hit rate” of 1 winner per 100 000 ideas is typical. About 4% of patents fell into this category.

Level 5 : Pioneering Discovery, is a rare scientific discovery or a pioneering invention involving what is essentially and entirely new system. A “hit rate” of 1 winner per 1 million ideas is typical. About 1% of patents fell into this category.

Imagine what will happen if "Level 5" Nanotechnology designs are patented. Wouldn't that prevent the tech's own proliferation and development? My idea is, what if we just liberate any Nanotech design capability that can be categorized to Level 5?

What's interesting with Altshuller's categorization is that it attempts to explain degrees of innovation. I believe that there are other ways to explain an innovation's degree, not just through one dimenson such as Altshuller's but also through three or five dimensions. We can add "impacts" as the second dimension in addition to degree.

The current patenting standards and examinations are too rigid so I dont think that it can be used in the post MNT societies. I would strongly suggest that lawyers, inventors and psychologist work together to find new ways in examining patents in order to reform the current patent mechanisms.

Email me (movanet@yahoo.com) or leave a comment here if you are interested in exploring further. I like psychology a lot, although I am a lawyer ;)

Mohamad Mova Al 'Afghani

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