Symposium: Patent warming – is the inventive step analysis to blame?

19 December 2015, 11:00 – 16:30
Chair: Bernt Hugenholtz
Agnietenkapel – Universiteit van Amsterdam
Oudezijds Voorburgwal 231, Amsterdam

Free entry, registration required (see below)

Over the last three decades the world has witnessed a dramatic growth in patents. For example, in the United States annual patent grants have risen from 66,000 in 1980 to well over 300,000 today. Similar trends, albeit a bit more modest, can be observed in Europe. And in countries with a shorter patent tradition, figures are telling the same, or an even more remarkable story. In China, for example, the number of grants has increased more than tenfold since 2000. 

This led the former President of the European Patent Office, Alison Brimelow, to liken the (alleged) overheating of the patent system to climate change. According to her the situation is ‘a bit like global warming: it is changing; you don’t know where it is going; you don’t know what the problems are.’

In this symposium we will turn our attention to one of the possible causes: the inventive step analysis. Might it be the case that the main gatekeeper of the patent fortress has gradually become less vigilant — perhaps even to such a degree that the whole patent empire may be put in danger? Or should we look elsewhere to find the causes of ‘global patent warming’ (if it exists at all)?

Six speakers will share with us their (varying) views on the subject:

After the presentations all speakers will participate in a panel discussion. 

To register for the symposium, please send an e-mail to


11:00-11:10                       Welcome
Bernt Hugenholtz
11:10-11:40 The inventiveness requirement through history
Lodewijk Pessers
11:50-12:20 Take out inventive step and we will have warming: does the solution lie in procedure rather than substance?
Rochelle Dreyfuss
12:30-13:10 Pause/lunch
13:10-13:40 Some remarks on inventive activity and inventive step in Germany
Theo Bodewig
13:50-14:20 Software patents and (lack of) inventive step; biotech patents and (lack of) inventive step: Is inventive step really the problem here?
Sven Bostyn
14:30-15:00 The early years of the 'person skilled in the art'
Helen Gubby
15:10-15:40 Inventive step and plausibility
Gertjan Juipers
15:50-16:30 Panel discussion
Lodewijk Pessers, Rochelle Dreyfuss, Theo Bodewig, Sven Bostyn, Helen Gubby, Gertjan Kuipers