The Netherlands Patent Office has announced that it will phase out its six-year patent (C1 document) in 2008. The six-year patent is a weaker form of patent protection than the standard 20-year patent. An application for a six-year patent is automatically registered without a novelty search or examination 18 months after filing. According to the agency's latest annual report, 602 6-year patents and 1,771 20-year patents were granted in 2005. Of all patents granted, over 50 percent went to private inventors and companies of 1-200 employees.
I'm the librarian for research services in the Engineering and Science Library at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. I've been working with patent information since 1991, including seven years at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. I believe that the dissemination of patent information is a public good and should be promoted, especially in the education of science and engineering students.