This topic has been kicked around so long it seems like it, like trickle-down economics, is an ideal that is always just out of our grasp.  But, I will at least pass along that the "Committee Oversight Plan 108th Congress" website for the U.S. House of Representative’s Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property describes plans to consider a world patent.  Under Article III, U.S. Patent and Trademark Systems, the document describes:

"Single, Low-Cost World Patent. The cost to U.S. companies and inventors of applying for and obtaining separate patents in each of 150 or more countries is prohibitive. In developing countries and even in Europe, patent fees are at such high levels that they constitute a tax on innovation. European government fees to obtain and maintain a patent are more than ten times the fees in the U.S. In addition, the expense of retaining separate patent attorneys or agents in each foreign country is burdensome and expensive. The United States could take a leadership role in negotiating an agreement under which countries would give full faith and credit to patents granted by an international organization or one of the three largest patent offices in the world- the U.S. Patent Office, the European Patent Office, or the Japanese Patent Office. Countries giving full faith and credit would charge a minimal fee for patenting in that country, and it would be unnecessary to retain separate patent attorneys or agents to obtain a patent in that country. The obstacles to negotiating and implementing such an arrangement would be formidable, but a single low-cost world patent is the best long-term approach to obtaining effective world-wide patent protection for U.S. companies and inventors. "

Starting with the Big Three (USPTO, EPO and JPO) makes a lot of sense, though.

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