Posts in Legislation

Parliamentary Committee Report Outlines Policy Changes to Improve Indian IP Regime

Despite India’s progress in many areas, from science to literature to technology, protection for intellectual property rights (IPR) is a topic that has come under scrutiny. The IP laws in India have remained vastly unchanged and unreviewed over the past few decades. Recently, however, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Commerce (PSCC) decided to review IPRs in India. The Committee, led by Chairman Shri V. Vijayasai Reddy, was made up of 11 members of the Rajya Sabha (upper house) and 21 members from the Lok Sabha (lower house). On July 23, 2021, the PSCC presented a report to the Rajya Sabha titled Review of the Intellectual Property Rights Regime in India (the Report). In the Report, the Committee pointed out the “challenges in strengthening the country’s IPR regime, the related procedural and substantive constraints, legal aspects and other issues, such as low awareness of IPR, counterfeiting and piracy, IP financing, and IPRs in agriculture and pharmaceutical sector, etc.”

Government Must Reform the ITC to Keep Pace with Innovation and Curb Trolls

In 2001, six years before the iPhone appeared, a futurist named Ray Kurzweil wrote that humankind would cram 20,000 years of technological progress into the century that had just begun. There were skeptics, but today any of the world’s six billion smartphone subscribers can read his essay on their devices practically any time, any place they choose. As we move into an era of Artificial Intelligence (AI), quantum computing, and 5G telecommunications that supports Kurzweil’s vision, we must make sure that our laws and federal agencies match the pace of invention and protect innovators from trolls who would game the legal system and government functions for their ill-gained profit. 

What is a ‘Patent Waiver’ Anyway? Zooming Out on the TRIPS COVID IP Waiver Debate

Scientists, engineers, and everyday people have developed solutions for testing, preventing, and treating the COVID-19 disease. Ordinarily, we wouldn’t think twice about granting patents on these inventions. But, today, when COVID-19 is spreading all over the world and killing millions of people, some world leaders are questioning whether we should be granting the exclusionary rights of patent protection on inventions that help respond to the pandemic. Included in that group is the Biden-Harris Administration, which, in May, announced their support of an “IP waiver” on COVID 19 vaccines. 

Indigenizing the Intellectual Property System

On August 9, we once again observe the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. Traditionally, international organizations take advantage of this time to promote the contributions of indigenous peoples across the globe. However, the day also presents an opportunity for States and international organizations to reflect on collective efforts to protect and preserve the culture and heritage of our indigenous communities. There are many threats to the rich cultures of our indigenous populations. These threats have remained widely unresolved despite the fact that indigenous peoples make up around 370-500 million of the world population. Included in these overlooked issues is the lack of protection given to the intellectual property (IP) of indigenous peoples. It is high time that we push for more accessible, effective, and durable protective measures for indigenous creations.

Don’t Go Down the Rabbit Hole with the Foes of Bayh-Dole

Sensing an opening after the Biden Administration’s recent Executive Order put a hold on a pending regulation prohibiting the misuse of the march-in rights provision of the Bayh-Dole Act for price control, Congressional opponents of the law dusted off a ploy that failed in the Obama Administration to try their luck again. They’ve written to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra urging them to march in to control prices of drugs created from inventions arising from R&D their agencies supported. We likened that aspect of the Executive Order to shooting ourselves in the foot, and it seemed as though it would be a while before we would know if the Administration would pull the trigger or not. With the recent Congressional actions, the day of reckoning may not be far off.

U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee: The Gold Standard for Trademark Protection

Few events capture the attention of the world like the Olympic Games. Around the globe and across the country, people tune in nightly to watch their nation’s athletes compete for a spot on the medal stand. But behind the breathtaking gymnastics performances and thrilling swimming races is some of the most valuable intellectual property in sports. And the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC)—the organizing body in charge of the nation’s Olympic efforts—is just as serious about defending its trademarks as it is about bringing home the gold.

A Closer, Evidence-Based Look at ‘Patent Quality’ Advocacy

The Patent Infringer Lobby has ramped up banging the drum about “patent quality.” They dedicated a week-long campaign to questioning “patent quality,” which its constituents regard as a huge problem. Advocates have taken advantage of the vacuum left after U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Director Andrei Iancu left the building. Anti-patent advocates are exploiting the new dynamic of Senator Patrick Leahy, coauthor of the America Invents Act (AIA), who now chairs the Senate Intellectual Property Subcommittee. Leahy recently did the Infringer Lobby the favor of holding a hearing on this subject.

Senate Judiciary Committee Advances Legislation to Reduce Drug Prices, Rein in Pharma Industry Practices

Earlier today, the Senate Judiciary Committee held an Executive Business Meeting in which the Committee discussed and favorably reported four bills aimed at reducing prescription drug prices for consumers and curbing perceived abuses of the patent system by brand pharmaceutical companies. The bills would do so by increasing the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC’s) authority to initiate enforcement actions against drug companies. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, opened the meeting with an explanation of the need for the bills. He said that nearly 40% of U.S. patients struggle to pay for medication. The world’s best-selling drug, Humira, brought in $16 billion in sales in 2019 and Humira manufacturer, AbbVie, has obtained 130 patents on the drug, with 90% filed after Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval.

A Third Option: Limited IP Waiver Could Solve Our Pandemic Vaccine Problems

In the early days of the vaccination efforts, Americans were anxiously online trying to register for a COVID-19 vaccination appointment. Reports of success at 1:30 am and 2:30 am made the rounds as new appointments dropped onto websites. Also common were stories of vaccine elitism and discussions of which vaccine is “the best.”  News reports continue to show a steady uptick in the percentage of vaccinated Americans. Elsewhere in the world though, the story is very different, and a darker picture is emerging. In Africa, many countries have vaccinated less than 2% of their population. While vaccine distribution is difficult in many regions of the developing world, this is a hurdle that medical assistance groups, such as Doctors Without Borders, are accustomed to handling. The challenges are known. What is most difficult in combating COVID-19 is obtaining the vaccines in the first place. Some argue that IP rights are the key problem and should be waived, while others claim they are the only solution and that waiver would be catastrophic. This article suggests a third option, somewhere between voluntary vaccine donation and a full waiver of IP rights, that may offer a way forward.

Emerging Anti-IP Policies the Focus of Heritage Foundation Event

At today’s Heritage Foundation event in Washington, D.C., titled Restoring American Leadership in Patent Law and Innovation Policy, former U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Director (USPTO) Andrei Iancu began by lamenting the failure of decision makers to make the connection between intellectual property and innovation. Increasingly, policy makers think innovation just happens, Iancu explained, with too many believing monetization happens after the fact, rather than driving innovation. “Without IP, the free market does not participate, or does not participate to scale,” Iancu told the Heritage audience. Laurie Self, Senior Vice President and Counsel, Government Affairs, Qualcomm, agreed with Iancu and added that, without a strong patent system, there is no opportunity to maintain a strong innovation leadership position. Presumably alluding to developments such as the Biden Administration’s support for waiving IP rights under the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) related to COVID-19 inventions and the recent Executive Order on Competition, Self said: “We are seeing a series of policies that if implemented would undermine our system… this cognitive dissonance is a threat.”

Implications of Russia’s New Rules on Geographical Indications for Champagne and Cognac Producers

On July 2, 2021, amendments to the Federal Russian Law No. 468-FZ dated December 27, 2019 “On Viticulture and Winemaking in the Russian Federation” came into force. The amendments introduced two new important rules that change the existing legal regulation on geographical indications (GIs) and appellation of origin of goods (AOGs). According to the amendments, foreign producers of champagne should relabel their products imported to Russia to “sparkling wine”. At the same time, Russian producers now have the right to label their products as “champagne”, including the usage of a special category of “Russian champagne”. In addition, the amendments introduced a new category of alcoholic drink, namely “Russian cognac”.

International Academics Push for TRIPS COVID IP Waiver Hold-Outs to Drop Opposition

One-hundred-twenty-four professors and academics from around the world have penned an open letter supporting India and South Africa’s proposed waiver of certain provisions of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement), which they claim will help to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a press release about the letter, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, Brazil, Japan, Norway, Switzerland and the EU continue to oppose the waiver proposal. The United States expressed its support for waiver in May. Over the last several weeks, Europe has doubled down on its opposition to the proposal in ongoing talks.

Green Light for Unitary Patent and Unified Patent Court

The long-awaited EU Unitary Patent and Unified Patent Court (UPC) looks likely to be launched in 2022, after Germany’s top court rejected two challenges to ratification on Friday, July 9. In its decision, the Federal Constitutional Court rejected both the applications for preliminary injunction directed against the Act of Approval to ratify the Agreement of February 19, 2013 on a Unified Patent Court (UPCA). (BVerfG, Beschluss des Zweiten Senats vom 23. Juni 2021- 2 BvR 2216/20 -, Rn. 1-81.)

USPTO Delivers on Senators’ Request for Patent Eligibility Jurisprudence Study

In March of this year, a bipartisan group of senators asked Drew Hirshfeld, who is Performing the functions and duties of the Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), to “publish a request for information on the current state of patent eligibility jurisprudence in the United States, evaluate the responses,” and provide the senators with a detailed summary of the findings in order to assist them as they consider appropriate legislative action. The letter gave a deadline of March 5, 2022 to submit a report on the topic. Now, a Federal Register Notice (FRN) scheduled to be published July 9 is requesting answers and input from stakeholders to 13 questions/topics to assist in that effort, according to a publicly posted draft of the FRN.

Will Trump Class Actions Against Social Media Platforms Revive Section 230 Debate?

Former President Donald J. Trump announced today that he is suing Facebook, Twitter and Google/YouTube in separate class action suits, claiming, among other allegations, that the platforms have “increasingly engaged in impermissible censorship resulting from threatened legislative action, a misguided reliance upon Section 230 of the Communications Act, 47 U.S.C. § 230, and willful participation in joint activity with federal actors.”… All three complaints take aim at Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, dubbing it “[l]egislation passed twenty-five (25) years ago intended to protect minors from the transmission of obscene materials on the Internet, and to promote the growth and development of social media companies” that has outgrown its original intent and enabled each of the companies to become behemoths who censor content of their choosing.


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