Former Commerce Department Leaders Urge Biden to Withdraw March-In Proposal

WASHINGTON (February 2, 2024) — Today, former Commerce Secretaries Gary Locke and Carlos Gutierrez joined three former directors of U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and four former directors of the National Institute of Standards and Technology in urging the Biden administration to withdraw a draft NIST proposal that threatens trillions of dollars worth of future economic growth.

NIST’s proposed guidance would deliberately misinterpret a 43-year-old bipartisan law known as the Bayh-Dole Act. That statute has catalyzed U.S. innovation, added over $1 trillion to America’s GDP, supported millions of jobs, and helped launch tens of thousands of startups.

“Never before has any administration, of either party, believed it has the power to relicense patents based on the price of the commercially available products in question,” the bipartisan group of former senior officials warned. NIST’s unprecedented assertion that a product’s price is now a legitimate trigger for invoking march-in rights would turn “our technology transfer system on its head,” they continued.

Throughout the six-page letter, the officials refute the legal basis for the NIST guidance while pointing out its many practical flaws.

“We emphasize in the strongest possible terms: the proposed framework poses a major threat to America’s prosperity,” the letter states.

Signatories of the letter, which was organized by the bipartisan Council for Innovation Promotion, include former U.S. Secretaries of Commerce Gary Locke and Carlos Gutierrez, Directors of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Andrei Iancu, David Kappos, and Jon W. Dudas, as well as Directors of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Walter G. Copan, Willie E. May, Patrick D. Gallagher, and William A. Jeffrey.

The full letter is available here.

“The Council for Innovation Promotion is honored to lead this distinguished group of former government officials in opposing the march-in proposal,” said Frank Cullen, C4IP executive director.

About the Council for Innovation Promotion: The Council for Innovation Promotion is a bipartisan coalition dedicated to promoting strong and effective intellectual property rights that drive innovation, boost economic competitiveness, and improve lives everywhere.

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