U.S Chamber’s IP Principles Remind Us That the IP Policy Debate Needs a Reset

“Sound IP policy is challenging enough to enact even when all the facts are clear and widely acknowledged…. When, however, the basic facts are deliberately misdescribed to policy makers by certain stakeholders, the challenge becomes almost an impossibility.”

IP PrinciplesOn September 13, the Global Innovation Policy Center of the U.S. Chamber published its “IP Principles” paper declaring the Chamber’s “Beliefs about Intellectual Property.” It was promptly endorsed and signed by 32 external IP thought leaders, including the heads of nearly all major IP associations and organizations, and individual experts such as a former Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), two retired judges (including myself), and leading IP academics.

Addressed to policy makers, it urged them to “take affirmative steps to ensure that intellectual property rights in America remain strong both domestically and the gold standard globally.”

The paper recognized recent distortions in the policy debate over IP rights that created an urgent need “to reset public policy debates and accurately represent the role of IP rights in American leadership.” It urged that the government “must adopt policies that support, protect, and promote strong IP rights….”

Otherwise, the government will have failed “in providing a reliable basis for investment in risky, capital-intensive research and development, creative development or brand development activities.”

The Chamber paper tied strong IP rights to “maintaining the United States’ economic preeminence, national security and enhancing innovative and creative opportunities for Americans.”

Finally, it concluded that many innovators, most particularly small and medium-sized businesses, “the backbone of America’s economic growth”, need “legal certainty and efficient, streamlined administrative and enforcement rights in order in invest and succeed.”

Call for a Reset is Exactly Right

In my view, the Chamber was exactly right to call for a “reset” in the policy debate over IP rights. In recent years, the “debate” has degenerated into empty slogans, false or exaggerated claims, and a misleading narrative demeaning IP rights and denying their vital role in today’s global innovation economy. Who has not heard about “patent trolls”, “baseless lawsuits” and “litigation explosion?”

Even on the back of buses, one sees signs claiming, falsely, “Patents Kill.” In truth, patents usher in the scores of new drugs that everyday save thousands and thousands of lives and ease the suffering of those who cannot be cured.

Such polemical language, really just propaganda, contaminates the policy discussion in public media and such baseless and counter-factual claims continue inundating members of Congress and their staff.

In our complex and divided nation, sound IP policy is challenging enough to enact even when all the facts are clear and widely acknowledged. That is because, with business models differing, some companies benefit from weak IP rights. When, however, the basic facts are deliberately misdescribed to policy makers by certain stakeholders, the challenge becomes almost an impossibility.

You Can Have Your Own Opinion; Not Your Own Facts

As a staffer in the Senate of the 1980s, when it functioned relatively well and in a respectful and largely bi-partisan manner, I recall vividly how if the debate began to veer off track, the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan would take the floor to remind all Senators, “Everyone is entitled to their own opinions but not their own facts.” That is exactly where the patent policy debate today is trapped.

By connecting IP rights to their strong effects promoting economic growth, global innovation leadership and national security, the Chamber is doing our nation a great service. By calling for honest debate, the Chamber is calling America to return to its only basis for effective governance.

What remains is for the responsible parties to return the debate and disagreements to honest dialogue. By setting our nation onto this productive path, the Chamber is pointing our nation to a better future.

Image Source: Deposit Photos
Author: sarahdesign85
Image ID: 70280439 


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One comment so far.

  • [Avatar for Anon]
    November 29, 2023 02:28 pm

    Plus One (a mighty thunderous one at that)