- On December 1, C4IP will host a virtual conversation between former USPTO Director David Kappos and former U.S. Secretary of Commerce and U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke — discussing the economic and geopolitical implications of expanding the TRIPS waiver. To join us for this webinar, please register here.
- On November 22, C4IP Executive Director Frank Cullen published a blog post on Chinese President Xi Jinping’s decision to pack the highest levels of government with experts in biotechnology, semiconductors, and artificial intelligence.
- On November 21, C4IP co-chair David Kappos published an opinion essay in IPWatchdog explaining “Why the Math Doesn’t Support Blaming Drug Patents for the High Cost of U.S. Healthcare.”
- On November 18, C4IP board members Judge Paul Michel (Ret.) and Judge Kathleen O’Malley (Ret.) published an opinion essay in Law360 laying out why “Congress Should Pass Tillis-Coons Patent Eligibility Bill.”
- On November 12, C4IP co-chairs Andrei Iancu and David Kappos published an opinion essay in the Deseret News stressing the need to “Protect The Value of American Invention.”
- On November 9, C4IP co-chairs Andrei Iancu and David Kappos published an opinion essay in The Hill detailing how “Biden’s Cancer Moonshot Will Miss Without Intellectual Property.”
- In a blog post on November 9, C4IP co-chairs Andrei Iancu and David Kappos brought attention to a joint WTO communication from Mexico and Switzerland on the proposed TRIPS expansion – and urged the United States to reclaim global leadership on IP.
- On October 31, C4IP Executive Director Frank Cullen published a blog post on the proposed TRIPS expansion
- On October 26, C4IP launched a major advertising campaign, highlighting the important role Members of Congress play in ensuring the United States maintains its leadership in the innovation economy.
- On October 18 and 26, IPWatchdog published Parts III and IV of an article series entitled “Presenting the Evidence for Patent Eligibility Reform,” coauthored by C4IP board members David Kappos and Judge Paul Michel (Ret.).
- China’s Xi Jinping Packs Government with Science and Tech Experts with Eye Toward Innovation: Chinese President Xi Jinping recently made his strategic priorities clear as he stacked the highest levels of government with experts in biotechnology, semiconductors, and artificial intelligence. The promotions mark a dedicated shift towards the advancement of cutting-edge R&D and serve as a wake-up call to U.S. policymakers that much more is needed to shore up American innovation. (WSJ, 11/18)
- USPTO and Dept. of Commerce Launch the Women’s Entrepreneurship (WE) Initiative: The USPTO and the Department of Commerce launched Women’s Entrepreneurship (WE), “a community-focused, collaborative, and creative initiative to inspire women and tap their potential to meaningfully increase equity, job creation, and economic prosperity.” WE includes a new online hub that provides key information on how to secure IP rights and funding. (IPWatchdog, 11/17)
- Regional Competitiveness and Technological Innovation: Comparing North America and the EU and Learning From Best Practices: ITIF, I-Com, and IW released a joint study on competitiveness and technological innovation in North America and Europe. The results, shared during a joint-webinar on November 14th, featured policy recommendations to bolster innovation-competitiveness of enterprises. (ITIF, 11/14)
- Joint USPTO-FDA Collaboration Initiatives; Notice of Public Listening Session and Request for Comments: Following President Biden’s Executive Order on “Promoting Competition in the American Economy,” the USPTO will host a public listening session with the FDA on January 19. The listening session seeks public input on proposed collaboration between the USPTO and FDA. (FDA; Federal Register, 11/07)
- Mexico and Switzerland Question Prospect of Extending TRIPS Waiver: At the WTO’s Council for Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), the Mexican and Swiss governments raised concerns about extending the current waiver for IP rights to include Covid-19 diagnostics and therapeutics. (IPWatchdog, 11/04)
Claim: Former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey recently alleged that America’s patent system is in need of an overhaul because it is rife with “meritless infringement lawsuits” over “broad, poor-quality patents” brought forth by foreign-backed non-practicing entities (NPEs). Mr. Mukasey claimed NPEs bring these lawsuits to “drain time and resources” and ultimately to “gain a strategic advantage” that compromises America’s economic and national security.
Correction: America’s patent system is strong and functions as originally intended — bolstering, not compromising, our economic and national security. It’s misleading to depict NPEs as actors relentlessly filing lawsuits with purely malicious intent. First, NPE lawsuit and patent litigation rates in the United States remain generally consistent with historical levels, the data does not support claims of a crisis of the system. Second, NPEs — who license, instead of manufacture, their inventions — are entitled to codified IP protections against infringement. The Constitution democratized invention in the United States, and expressly did not include a manufacturing requirement in order to obtain a patent. This is precisely what enables everyone to invent, even if they do not have expensive factories. Patent protections for all is what enabled Thomas Edison to invent the light bulb and the Wright Brothers to invent air flight. It is these protections that drive the cutting-edge discoveries Mr. Mukasey noted as vital to “keep[ing] America safe and prosperous.”
Bottom Line: This claim is false.
What’s Happening in Congress:
Inside Look on End-of-Year Funding Legislation
The 117th Congress has little time on the calendar to advance must-pass funding legislation for the continued operation of the U.S. government — either via a continuing resolution, a potential 12-bill omnibus appropriations package, or a combined omnibus-NDAA package.
The federal government is currently funded at Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 levels under an existing continuing resolution through Dec. 16. As the lame-duck session is in full swing this week, lawmakers are fully expected to move forward with negotiations on FY 2023 spending bills in an earnest effort to reach a final deal. Democratic and Republicans leaders alike are reviewing comprehensive lists of items to prioritize in these negotiations.
Top of mind for those who follow intellectual property policies are:
- The Pride in Patent Ownership Act: In September 2021, Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Thom Tillis (R-NC) introduced the Pride in Patent Ownership Act. The proposed legislation seeks to increase transparency and accuracy in the public record of patent ownership and can provide value in this regard. However, IP experts forewarn that further amendments are needed, otherwise this measure would introduce more red tape for patent holders and require the submission of tedious ownership recordation documents to USPTO. Failure to comply could result in reduced punitive damages for any infringement that occurs.
- Patent Trial and Appeal Board Reform Act of 2022: In June, Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Thom Tillis (R-NC), and John Cornyn (R-TX) introduced the Patent Trial and Appeal Board Reform Act of 2022. Entrepreneurs, small business advocates, and IP experts caution that the bill omits important improvements needed to ensure PTAB fairness to patent owners. In its present form, it would require PTAB to hear and decide on patent challenges even when those challenges are already before federal courts — subjecting smaller inventors to double jeopardy scenarios.
- Patent Eligibility Restoration Act of 2022: In August, Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) introduced legislation aimed at restoring patent eligibility for important categories of inventions — including life sciences, diagnostics, gene therapies, and artificial intelligence — as well as resolving questions regarding the scope of the patent system.
Promoting strong IP rights and supporting millions of scientists and entrepreneurs in their trailblazing pursuits should be a bipartisan effort. Doing so will serve to bolster U.S. innovation and competitiveness, while tackling the most pressing issues of our time.
Celebrating American Innovation
In light of the recent midterm elections, USPTO paid tribute to an inventor who paved the way for more people to participate in democracy through his patented voting machine:
Roland J. Harp, American inventor and founder of Harp Enterprises, Inc. Harp invented a voting machine that employs audio presentation, allowing visually-impaired and blind individuals – as well as individuals with lower literacy skills – to cast a vote independently and in privacy. The presentation identifies all of the candidate and proposition choices and guides individuals through the entire selection process in a straight-forward manner. This audio guide can function alone or in combination with a tactile map. This patented invention, in no uncertain terms, increased accessibility at the polls and enabled more Americans to confidently exercise their right to vote — without loss of anonymity or subjection to outside influences. Today, Harp Enterprises continues to build on this legacy, servicing patented, computerized voting systems in over 130 county governments across Kentucky, Tennessee, Indiana, and Arkansas.