Is Trump being bamboozled by Obama holdovers on patent policy?

No doubt, President Trump is under siege. And it is not just the media and the opposing party. He is also being attacked internally by establishment politicians and Obama holdovers within his own administration who are leaking sensitive information and carrying over Obama era policies even against Trump’s own public policy statements.

Whatever Trump says about inventors, IP, trade imbalances, national security and other things, it is confounding that the actions of his administration do not mirror his words. He says one thing, but his administration does another. Is Trump being googled (as in bamboozled) by Obama holdovers? Or is Trump himself the swamp?

Last week, we saw the Trump Administration’s policy perspective on patents in the fiscal year 2018 budget. Fortunately, Trump’s budget lets the USPTO keep the fees it collects. However, comments in the Trump budget conjure up the ghost of Obama policies. To quote the Trump’s FY 2018 budget:

The Budget supports USPTO’s administrative efforts to address abusive patent litigation practices and repeats the President’s call for Congress to enact legislation that promotes greater transparency in the U.S. patent system and prevents frivolous lawsuits that stifle innovation.”

The Trump White House says the same thing. The problem is that Trump has never said anything like this as a candidate or as President. In fact his statements on the record contradict this policy stance. He clearly calls patents private property just like land protected by the Constitution. He agrees that the theft of IP is elevated to a national security issue. He even said in his first speech to Congress that inventors made America great at the century celebration of America and will do so again when America turns 250.

The first reference I could find of the FY 2018 budget quote above was a March 13, 2014 USPTO Leadership Blog by then USPTO CFO (now acting Deputy Director) Tony Scardino, which was nearly word-for-word identical.

The budget also supports administrative efforts to address abusive patent litigation practices and repeats the president’s call for Congress to enact legislation that promotes greater transparency in the U.S. patent system and prevents frivolous lawsuits that stifle innovation.”

That same quote later became part of Obama’s 2015 Budget and was carried on exactly the same through the 2017 budget.

The Budget supports USPTO’s administrative efforts to address abusive patent litigation practices and repeats the President’s call for Congress to enact legislation that promotes greater transparency in the U.S. patent system and prevents frivolous lawsuits that stifle innovation.”

The USPTO’s Obama holdovers Michelle Lee and Tony Scardino are simply co-opting the exact language used in Obama’s budgets for fiscal years 2015 to 2017 into Trump’s 2018 budget and then directly attributing Obama’s policies and statements to President Trump even though Trump has never taken a position on anti-patent legislation.

The 2018 budget is not the only output from Obama holdovers in the Trump Administration carrying over destructive Obama era policies. Just a few weeks ago, the Trump Administration argued in Oil States that patents are not property rights – they are instead some sort of public entitlement, something more akin to food stamps than property rights, that can be given and taken by the administration. I’m pretty sure it is not possible to collateralize public entitlements like food stamps. So if patents are public entitlements, how can they be collateralized to fund early stage startups?

Obama era policies crushed the U.S. patent system. It is now ranked 10th in the world, tied with Hungary. China, Trump’s primary target of trade equalization and IP theft, saw how Obama’s patent policies were crushing America’s technology and job creation engine and did what is best for China – they created a more stable and predictable patent system, which resulted in a tectonic shift of venture capital, patenting and startups from the U.S. to China.

This shift will quickly become a national security disaster. In just a few short years, we will be purchasing technologies that fuel our infrastructure and military from China. These new technologies will not only be manufactured in China, but they will be invented there too. At that point, we will no longer be the world’s technology leader. China will. And, as a result, we will be forced to comply with the demands of a Communist oligarchy in our financial, foreign, and military policies.

Are these failed Obama era policies now carried over into the Trump Administration by Obama holdovers simply mistakes? Some sort of scrivener’s error? Or is it a direct attempt to carry over failed Obama policies in the name of President Trump? You be the judge. Perhaps you can tell me: Is Trump being googled by Obama holdovers? Or is Trump himself the swamp?


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Join the Discussion

21 comments so far.

  • [Avatar for Poesito]
    June 8, 2017 01:18 pm

    Ron Hilton @ 19:: Unfortunately, the celebration was short lived.

  • [Avatar for Gilgamesh soul]
    Gilgamesh soul
    June 8, 2017 12:38 pm

    “He clearly calls patents private property just like land protected by the Constitution”.

    When did Trump say this?

  • [Avatar for Ron Hilton]
    Ron Hilton
    June 6, 2017 05:37 pm

    That was the quickest fulfillment of any of my predictions that I’ve ever seen!

  • [Avatar for IPdude]
    June 6, 2017 05:29 pm

    According to Law360 Lee has resigned!!!!

  • [Avatar for Anon]
    June 6, 2017 05:18 pm

    I cannot ascribe to the veracity, but over at “the other blog,” the patent examiner known as “6” has posted a quote attributed to Miss Lee formally resigning (again?) – undated, but referencing “this afternoon.”


  • [Avatar for Ron Hilton]
    Ron Hilton
    June 6, 2017 02:51 pm

    It’s a big swamp – let’s give him a little more time. I think Michelle Lee will eventually be replaced. She already seems to be on thin ice.

  • [Avatar for Titus Corleone]
    Titus Corleone
    June 6, 2017 02:35 pm

    The Patent Office is just one small part of a vast deep state array of Left Wing operatives buried in government with one mission, and one mission only: sabatouge a sitting president and his administration. This why it is time to remove unions from government and end tenure of government employees. They are ruining America!

  • [Avatar for angry dude]
    angry dude
    June 6, 2017 09:16 am

    Michael Zall @13

    Relax, dude
    US patent system is already crap, thanks to Obama
    You can’t make it worse

  • [Avatar for Michael Zall]
    Michael Zall
    June 6, 2017 07:49 am

    Do you really want the patent system brought to the attention of Trump. Best let things slide until he is out of office. Everything he touches turns to crap. Next thing you know he will put a ban on Moslems from getting patents, or delegitimize patents from democrats

  • [Avatar for Benny]
    June 6, 2017 05:35 am

    This is the first commentary or article which I have read since November which purports to take Trump’s statements seriously rather than merely hold them up to ridicule (John Oliver ? Samantha Bee ?). That might be more of a reflection on the POTUS than on my habit of avoiding the Fox news channel. The link between Trump’s twitter feed and informed policy seems tenuous, at best.
    I realize that being a non-US citizen it is hardly my place to criticize the administration but, as they say here, when America sneezes the rest of the world catches a cold.

  • [Avatar for Anon]
    June 6, 2017 05:24 am

    Trump bamboozled? Now whatever gave you that idea? As I understand it, he has the attention span of a microbe, unless he sees his own name mentioned a lot in the document under consideration, and since he has had little to do with patents, that’s going to be hard to arrange.

  • [Avatar for Poesito]
    June 5, 2017 11:59 pm

    Mr. Trump declared that he would drain The Swamp but The Swamp is obviously draining him, his own party included. He and Wilbur Ross made their fortunes and reputations in the same field of business. One which benefits from advances in technology but is not itself known particularly as a hotbed of technical innovation. For that reason, one wouldn’t expect either man to have a great appreciation for patent rights or for constructive change to the patent regime to emanate from the top in the executive branch.

  • [Avatar for Lawrence Glaser]
    Lawrence Glaser
    June 5, 2017 02:48 pm

    I agree with the idea that its a “bittaboth”. I am strongly for a change here in the US. When a buyer buys a patent, a new right is created. The right to count some of that cost as R & D, like a transfer of the original person’s costs to develop. Even if its *human currency* or *sweat equity* its still fair. So let’s argue its 50% for tangible tech and 25% for “methods of”. This would boost the search for new products and methods, because the buyer gets up to half off as a tax write off. They can also write off the cost of the patent. So in a sense, they get a double boost. Suddenly, everyone wants to MAKE THINGS AGAIN. Duhhhh? Gee!!

  • [Avatar for angry dude]
    angry dude
    June 5, 2017 02:42 pm

    A lot of groundbreaking Virtual/Augmented Reality tech comes from China these days: not just made in China but also invented and designed in China (including Taiwan cause its China too)

    Check out HTC, Pimax, NoloVR, TPCast etc etc etc

  • [Avatar for Paul Morinville]
    Paul Morinville
    June 5, 2017 12:58 pm

    IPdude @4. I heard they have interviewed many candidates. One guy told me 16, but I have no way to know if that is true. I am beginning to ponder the very unfortunate thought that Michelle Lee is here to stay.

  • [Avatar for JPM]
    June 5, 2017 12:52 pm

    Looks like Michelle Lee and her cronies are running the PTO according to Obama’s policies. Wilbur Ross needs to pay close attention to what the current PTO leadership is doing. It doesn’t seem like Trump or Wilbur Ross is paying much attention to what’s going on with patents.

  • [Avatar for IPdude]
    June 5, 2017 12:35 pm

    Paul, are you hearing anything on whether we will see a new director anytime soon? Or is Lee staying on?

  • [Avatar for Dozens]
    June 5, 2017 12:21 pm

    “Is Trump being bamboozled by Obama holdovers on patent policy?”

    One could stop the question at “is Trump being bamboozled?” Whatever comes after those four words does not really affect the answer to the question, which is “yes.” That is what comes from installing an ignoramus in the White House. You get policy outcomes driven by ignorance.

  • [Avatar for Night Writer]
    Night Writer
    June 5, 2017 12:05 pm

    I think the problem is who is close to Trump that could explain this to him? I don’t think there is anyone.

  • [Avatar for Tesia Thomas]
    Tesia Thomas
    June 5, 2017 11:04 am

    I think the exact same thing about US handing over the manufacturing and innovation to China.
    Yes, we will soon have to buy Chinese weaponry.

    Even Lockheed, Raytheon, et all need patents. They even sue the government for IP infringement. But no more.
    Soon the government will be able to choose anyone it wants for a procurement without a thought to what’s proprietary. And just as simply as that, people will stop making great tech.

    No incentive!

    Our government debt and our dollar are in trouble.
    Europe is getting pissed that we’re the cause of its countries being the set of terrorist attacks. I mean we’re an ocean away from the fire. Refugees have to catch a plane or boat to get here. But Europe is right there. Terrorists walk over.
    If European countries all come together and change the oil dollar then we’re screwed.
    If our gdp decreases from lack of innovations thus not having anything good to sell then when our debts come due, we’re screwed.

    Europe is ramping up its defense funding, encouraging scientists to invent new technologies for defense.
    I think the less reliance they have on us for defense, the more likely the oil dollar changes.

    But, as per if Trump is googled or the swamp, I don’t think we have enough information yet.

    We just need to encourage him to hate the AIA as much as the ACA.

  • [Avatar for Anon]
    June 5, 2017 10:54 am

    Is Trump being googled (as in bamboozled) by Obama holdovers? Or is Trump himself the swamp?

    I do not think that those are mutually exclusive questions.