On August 2, 2012, I spoke on the record with Erik Iverson, Executive Vice President for Business Development & External Affairs at the Infectious Disease Research Institute. In part 1 of the interview we caught up with Erik’s move from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to IDRI. He is still engaged in humanitarian efforts, but he described IDRI as more of an “intentionally not for profit” biotech research and development company. We discussed the work IDRI is doing and how he is able to get large pharmaceutical companies to work with a 501(c)(3) entity that has as its primary mission humanitarian efforts in the global health sector.
In part 2, which is the final segment of the interview, we discuss the Obama Administration efforts to challenge the innovative community to put patents to work for humanitarian efforts. This project is called Patents for Humanity. Iverson and I discuss the project and whether it is likely to be successful, as well as the risk it runs of defining only one path to acceptably use patents for what the government views as humanitarian relief. For more on Patents for Humanity please see On Patents Aiding Humanity and Patents for Humanity Announced at White House Event.
Without further ado, we pick up right where we left off.
Recently USPTO Director David Kappos authored an article for publication on IPWatchdog (see On Patents Aiding Humanity) about the Obama Administration’s Patents for Humanity program, which was announced in February of 2012 at a White House event. verson was in attendance and he and I have chatted about this and other humanitarian efforts and uses of technology in the global health arena, so I thought this would make a perfect opportunity to catch up with him, learn more about the intersection of patents and humanitarian efforts and discuss Patents for Humanity.
Patents for Humanity in the news was also the perfect excuse to chat with Erik. I always enjoy our conversations. We touch base regularly and talk about industry matters, and I always leave those conversations wanting to write about something. Unfortunately, I have had the hardest time getting my head around what seems to be very counterintuitive — namely the use of patented technology for humanitarian purposes. I can confidently now say that I get it. I am happy to share this interview and hope that it can shed light on what might seem like an otherwise purely altruistic endeavor without much likelihood of success. There is great work being done in this space and it is indeed a “win-win” for everyone.
Without further ado, here is part 1 of my two-part interview with Erik Iverson.
By the time you are reading this I will already be off on a cross country voyage in search of some rest and relaxation. Renee and I are vacation bound, and off to our usual favorite vacation spot — Southern California. Newport Beach, Californiato be more specific.
We will be away from the crack of dawn on August 14 through the stroke of midnight on August 28. Business will seem to go on as usual though. I have written a number of articles in advance, which I will post over this two-week span. I have a number of excellent guest contributions, although I’m always looking for more if you want to contribute. I also have several interviews I’ve conducted over the past several weeks, which will publish over the course of the next several weeks. I will also inevitably author some contemporaneous original articles while away, particularly relating to the avalanche of final rules due out for the next wave of implementation of the America Invents Act. So stay tuned! I’ll be gone, but will have laptop and Internet access at the ready.
As I prepare to head out of the office I thought in this relaxing state of mind I might take the opportunity to offer my comments and analysis of the garbage passed off as Judge Posner’s opinion in Apple v. Motorola (June 22, 2012). I have so far successfully avoided writing anything, trying to distance myself in time and emotional state from the moment this ridiculous decision stream of wholly irrelevant dicta was handed down. But there is no way I am going to let the delusional anti-patent ramblings of Judge Posner ruin my vacation! I feel compelled to comment, so this cathartic expression of incredulity will hopefully wash away the bad and bring with it a sense of calming peace that will lead me into much needed rest and relaxation.
Many corporations do exactly the wrong thing during a recession, namely downsize, spend less on research and development and essentially shoot themselves in the foot. But myopic corporations are not the only ones who engage in activities that are contrary to their own interest. Independent inventors and small businesses are struggling and for every encouraging economic sign there are many others that show a stalled recovery; a recovery that was already going to slow to start with. There is nothing wrong with being cost conscious, but there is a difference between being cost conscious and being cheap.
As is the case with all recessions or economic downturns, more and more people are turning to inventing. Just over the last several months, since at least late winter 2012, I’ve seen an uptick in the number of inquiries from inventors of various levels of experience who are interested in doing their own thing, starting a company or expanding the small business they already have to incorporate some new invention. This is not at all surprising, and is in fact exactly what you would expect. For many of these individuals and businesses, however, cost is the primary driving concern. They want to succeed, but they need to keep costs down. That is understandable and commendable, but when cost consciousness grows to the point where it interferes with proper execution of the plan then one has to at least ask whether it makes sense to pursue the plan.
On July 19, 2012, I interviewed Bob Stoll at the Washington, D.C., offices of Drinker Biddle. In part 1 we discussed his adjusting to life in the private sector, the fact that he doesn’t enjoy the billable hour part of private practice (just like every other attorney I know) and we discussed politics a bit, as well as the U.S. economy and innovation policy. In part 2 we discussed Presidential politics, how innovation drives the U.S. economy, why a great new technology that has spawned an entirely new industry as we have coming out of so many recessions in the past, patent examination process and how to streamline the examination process.
In this final installment, Bob Stoll and I discuss the United States Supreme Court. We spend some time talking about the Supreme Court’s recent patent eligible subject matter decisions. We also discuss the problem of bad patent applications contributing to bad law and slower, more inefficient patent prosecution. We also discuss inequitable conduct after Therasense and who might make a good addition to the Federal Circuit. Stoll says the name he keeps hearing is Todd Dickinson.
Without further ado, here is part 3 of my interview with Bob Stoll.
We are rapidly closing on the next wave of implementation for the America Invents Act in the United States. On 16 September 2011, the U.S. enacted landmark patent legislation. As a result of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA) the patent laws of the United States will experience the most widespread changes since the initial patent statute was first passed in 1790. Not even the 1952 Patent Act is as sweeping because that almost exclusively codified decades of common law into the statute, with only one significant departure from the law as it evolved under the guidance of the Judicial system.
The most sweeping changes to American patent law will not take effect until March 16, 2013, but there have already been some changes and the next wave of changes become effective on September 16, 2012, on the anniversary of President Obama signing the bill into law. The next round of changes largely deal with post grant procedures and challenges, but also deal with a variety of smaller issues, such as implementing the OED statute of limitations for disciplinary actions and the submission of third party prior art during a patent prosecution.
For the international community, however, there is an important change slated for September 16, 2012. The AIA will changewho is entitled to be an applicant in U.S. national applications. This change will impact applicants who have filed under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). The change removes the requirement that the inventors be named as applicants solely for the purposes of U.S. designation.
There is a maze of information available online for new inventors, much of it very good and much of it highly questionable. Therefore, it is not surprising that aach and every week I receive multiple general inquiries from newbie inventors. Although the inquiry can take many different forms, the question inevitably boils down to something like this: “I have recently come up with an idea that I would like to pursue. I have never invented anything in the past, and I have no idea where to start. Help!”
The first step toward commercializing an invention and making money from it is typically to pursue the patent path. On the road to a patent there are many mistakes that inventors can make unwittingly, some of which will ultimately make it impossible to obtain a patent.
With that in mind, here is a list of the top 5 mistakes inventors make, followed by discussion of what you should do to move your project forward in an appropriate and responsible way.
Congressman Issa, sponsor of the bill that would gut design patent rights in the automotive industry.
The U.S. House Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition, and the Internet held a hearing August 1, 2012, on H.R. 3889, the “Promoting Automotive Repair, Trade, and Sales Act” or PARTS Act, legislation introduced by Representatives Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.). During the hearing, subcommittee members listened to testimony from Rockingham Group President and CEO W. Neal Menefee and Consumer Federation of America Public Affairs Director Jack Gillis, who emphasized the benefits of the PARTS Act to consumers and stressed the balance it strikes. And if you believe that I have a bridge to sell you!
Rockingham Group of insurance companies is a member of the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies and the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, both of which are members of the Quality Parts Coalition (QPC), which is another industry group with what appears to be a horribly misleading name. The QPC has stated its goal as being none other than securing a permanent legislative change to U.S. design patent law to (in their words) “protect the consumer’s rights to lower-cost alternative replacement parts.” In other words, they don’t like design patents and would rather see them go away.