“IP matters for the European economy,” said Yann Ménière, the chief economist for the European Patent Office (EPO), who provided the opening keynote presentation at the EPO’s High-growth technology business conference 2019 on November 4 in Dublin, Ireland at Aviva Stadium. Leading off a packed two-day program, Ménière released the results of an EPO study on how Small-to-Medium Enterprises (SMEs) used intellectual property rights, specifically patents. SMEs typically file European patents for high-potential inventions that find their way to market, the EPO study finds. Therefore, not surprisingly, the EPO report also shows that SMEs that rely on patents have an above average number of employees, and those employees are higher paid and contribute more to European GDP.
NASA will enter into a range of different patent license agreements from no-cost evaluation licenses up to exclusive license. The agency’s goal in licensing technologies is to reach the widest distribution possible for the commercialized technology. To some, it may seem unusual that exclusive licenses would be part of NASA’s licensing options if the goal was truly the widest distribution possible. “We’ll only grant an exclusive license if we believe that exclusivity leads to the widest distribution,” Lockney said, noting that there were a couple of examples where such a situation could play out. An exclusive license for the broadest possible distribution could make sense if the technology was being commercialized in a medical device and a single multinational company offers an incredibly broad distribution model; such was the case with a flexible insulating plastic material for use with pacemaker wires recently licensed by NASA with Medtronic. In other situations where multiple companies occupy the same market, NASA might grant an exclusive license to one company if it’s determined that, without the exclusivity, none of the firms could invest adequately in commercializing the technology.
One difficulty holding back the further implementation of hyperloop infrastructure is the fact that the new mode of transportation doesn’t fit neatly into existing regulatory framework. In response to a question from Sen. Thune on that subject, Raycroft noted that hyperloop systems were currently under the jurisdiction of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). This is despite the fact that certain aspects of hyperloop technology don’t fit neatly into the FRA’s regulatory framework for railroads, including vehicle bodies which are more similar to commercial aircraft. Raycroft said that engagement between the FRA and other agencies within the Department of Transportation could help speed the regulatory process while ensuring that passenger safety remained a top priority. In response to a later question from Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Raycroft said that, at the current pace, hyperloop technologies would be ready for widespread passenger use during the mid-2020s.
Litigation finance in the university context is thus particularly valuable. Even for smaller matters, litigation finance shifts spend off the university’s balance sheet, allowing it to put its own capital to use in its primary endeavors: Education and innovation. For larger matters, litigation finance shifts risk from the university—which, despite its diverse technology portfolio, may have only a small number of claims with attractive litigation prospects—to an entity with a much larger book of diversified risk across uncorrelated claimants.
Concerns about the ability of academic institutions to keep contributing to the U.S. innovation economy go well beyond federal funding stagnation according to the recent AUTM survey. In an executive summary section entitled The Perils of Eroding Patent Rights, AUTM notes that a slight decrease in options and exclusive license agreements compared to the number of non-exclusive license agreements could be due to fears that licensing companies have over protecting the intellectual property under the current iteration of the U.S. patent system. In 2016, option agreements were down year-over-year by 7 percent while exclusive licenses dropped 2.1 percent. Non-exclusive license totals, however, rose by 2.1 percent to 4,201 such license agreements in 2016. A sharp increase in startups ceasing business activity, up 37.4 percent to a total of 331 such startups, is another “ominous trend” which AUTM notes is likely attributable to eroding patent rights.
President Donald Trump signed a new space policy directive for human expansion across the solar system, a directive which hearkens at least slightly back to Horace Greeley’s “Go West, young man.” Increased human expansion in space will produce innovations that can improve human life on Earth to the benefit of U.S. consumers, provided our nation’s struggling IP regime can be righted for the proper commercialization of such inventions.
An unfounded belief persists that entrepreneurs are the primary innovators. However, in a study of the top 30 innovations of the last 30 years up through 2009, as judged by Wharton professors, shows innovations that most affected society were conceived by company workers, not entrepreneurs, according to Dr. Kaihan Krippendorff, a Wharton alum and self-described study author… So in order to encourage innovation, these characteristics of employee-innovators should be developed early on, according to Krippendorff. Logically, not only would that increase the level of innovation but also ease the task of innovation management.
This different approach—a commercialization approach—has been embraced across the American political spectrum, including both the Carter administration and the Reagan administration, as well as by celebrated jurists of the last century coming from diverse philosophical perspectives, including Circuit Judges Learned Hand, Jerome Frank, and Giles Rich, who saw it as important to helping the economy and society. The roots of a commercialization approach to patents, in particular, reach back even further into American history, including Abraham Lincoln’s view that the patent system “added the fuel of interest to the fire of genius, in the discovery and production of new and useful things.” Its study has also long extended far beyond our nation… A commercialization approach to IP views IP more in the tradition of private law, rather than public law. It does so by placing greater emphasis on viewing IP as property rights, which in turn is accomplished by greater reliance on interactions among private parties over or around those property rights, including via contracts.
Bayh-Dole is running on autopilot without Executive branch oversight and U.S. patents are no longer the world’s gold standard. Without a course correction, we could be headed back to the bad old days… Bayh-Dole has become a driver of the U.S. economy. Every day of the year universities form two new companies and two new products from their inventions are commercialized. University spin out companies tend to stay in state becoming significant contributors to the regional economy… Bayh-Dole is a recognized best practice. The Chinese have adopted it while strengthening their patent system to better compete with us.
The review of current corporate patent submission policies reveals clear inconsistencies. While some technology firms have standards that result in clear paths for third party inventors to knock on corporate front doors with patent submissions, others have standards to effectively block submissions of patents, block third party communications, and slam corporate doors in the face of outside inventors. The lack of submission standards are somewhat unique as compared to other types of IP submissions, and often unique and inconsistent within specific technology industries themselves. This lack of standardization across similar firms adds to the notion that patent submission policies have thus far been insufficiently analyzed and have perhaps evolved inefficiently. They are also in stark contrast to the strong open patent submission policies technology-driven 19th century firms utilized.
Congressman Pence worked mostly on patent reform bills via the Republican Study Committee, a well-known group of House Republicans focused on inserting conservative views into public policy including respect for the Constitution and private property rights… During the time Pence served as Governor of Indiana, Purdue University soared to a record numbers of new patents, record numbers of technology licenses and record numbers of start ups based on Purdue University innovations… In July, Governor Pence signed an Executive Order establishing the Indiana Economic Development Corporation as the entity that will coordinate all efforts on behalf of the State of Indiana to accelerate innovation and entrepreneurship. Perhaps most interesting, the Order specifically acknowledges that increased innovation helps make communities more vibrant and spurs economic growth, higher wages and job creation.
A recent Canadian survey (CRA Survey) has conclusively attributed lowered levels of R&D investment in Canada’s innovation ecosystem to the country’s unique judicial “Promise Doctrine.” The Promise Doctrine is a controversial patent elimination dynamic, judicially imposed during patent enforcement proceedings, often after a patented product has achieved its developmental endpoint, having successfully completed its long and costly commercialization. By its unpredictable applicability, like an unseen open manhole, Canada’s promise doctrine can cancel the benefits of a long journey at its market-ready endpoint… As the Survey suggests, long-lasting damage to Canada’s innovation ecosystem may already have occurred, which is why the Survey bears so heavily on the U.S. patent system’s own endpoint “open manhole”, Inter partes review (IPR). However Canada deals with its promise doctrine woes, we too have much to learn from this Canadian Survey.
There are many different reasons why building a better mouse-trap is only the first of many steps on the road to financial freedom. First, there is no guarantee of financial success given by any patent office in the world. This is true even if you have a strong patent that covers a great product that enjoys robust consumer demand. Unfortunately, many inventors operate under the misunderstanding that getting a patent is like owning Boardwalk and Park Place in the popular board game MONOPOLY. The truth is that turning an invention into cash is much more complicated than simply placing hotels on Boardwalk and Park Place. Yes, a patent is an essential ingredient because without one you have no right to exclude competitors from engaging in competitive activities, but you must treat inventing as a business if you want to truly be successful.