“Innovation and creative endeavors are indispensable elements that drive economic growth and sustain the competitive edge of the U.S. economy.” Thus reads the start of the executive summary for the 2016 update to the Intellectual Property and the U.S. Economy...
Every April 26, we celebrate World Intellectual Property Day to learn about the role that intellectual property rights (patents, trademarks, industrial designs, copyright) play in encouraging innovation and creativity. This year, we’ll explore how innovation is making our lives healthier, safer, and more comfortable, turning problems into progress.
Unfortunately, recent data shows that we are losing ground when it comes to the protection of IP and patents - consequently, we are falling behind in the innovation race. While China has long been seen as a nation which does not respect Intellectual Property and where piracy has been rampant, it appears they may have seen the error of their ways and are increasing their patent protections as we have started to undermine ours.
UC Berkeley biochemist Jennifer Doudna and her European collaborator, Emmanuelle Charpentier, have racked up a slew of awards for their work, which makes it very easy to alter the DNA of living things. But their efforts to patent their discovery have been hung up by a competing claim from Feng Zhang at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard.
President Donald Trump promised to do many things during his presidential campaign, and since taking office, he has begun setting those plans into action. One of the things he did not really address during his campaign, however, is how he is going to reform and change the current US Patent system.
By some metrics, China may already be the world’s biggest economy. But America is still #1, and by a long shot, in an equally important field: number of patents registered. Patents may not animate as many discussions as GDP or jobs, but they too are an important measure of economic strength.
“Governments from East to West all want the same thing: economic growth. Now more than ever, world economies must choose whether they will grow forward into the future or shrink back from endless innovative potential,” said Mark Elliot, executive vice president of GIPC. “Each year, this report attempts to highlight best practices among the world’s intellectual property environments. In 2017, many of the same challenges remain.
“This year’s Index shows that a clear pack of leaders has emerged: the United States, United Kingdom, Japan, and the European Union. But all that invest in the systemic recognition and protection of IP stand to reap the benefits: foreign investments, healthier home-grown industries that export innovative products, and a reputation as a place where the world can do business. From the most developed countries to the least, countries that demonstrate a commitment to IP will reap a reward.”
Patent rights are an important part of U.S. innovation policy: If they're too weak, America's inventors may decide its not worth sharing their discoveries. But if patent rights are too strong, monopolists can smother new entrepreneurs and erect barriers to research.To find the right balance, many look to the White House for guidance.
There's been no official announcement about USPTO leadership from Trump's team, with the new president having been inaugurated earlier today. But The Hill reported yesterday that Michelle Lee, a former top lawyer at Google, will remain as USPTO director under President Trump.