Critics argue that pharmaceutical patents are a barrier to wide-reaching access to medicines, especially for vulnerable populations in the developing world. They cast their argument in the phrase, “Patents Kill” and advocate against intellectual property (IP) protection for medical innovation and the trade agreements that incorporate them. Their position, however, begs the question of what truly influences a population’s access to medicines. This week, as the United States and a dozen other nations continue the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement negotiations, the answer is more important than ever. Despite the critics’ position, recent students cast doubt on their argument, providing evidence that access is critically linked to a country’s level of economic development which is enhanced by strong intellectual property rights protection.
Access is defined as “having medicines continuously available and affordable at public or private health facilities or medicine outlets that are within one hour’s walk from the homes of the population” (United Nations Development Group, 2003). Fundamentally, access is largely continent upon the nation’s level of economic development and available infrastructure. Given this, there are two important reasons to believe that the TPP will not inhibit access to medicine. First, most would-be signatory nations are well developed. Second, trade and IP protection enhance growth and growth furthers access.
The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet on March 14, 2013, heard from six witnesses that the business of “patent assertion entities” (PAEs) is inflicting severe harm on a broad range of technology users.
That business involves the enforcement of weak or invalid patent claims against initial and downstream users of devices that are remotely related to the patent claims for the sole purpose of extracting settlements in amounts much lower than the cost of litigating the rights. The witnesses at the hearing agreed that, when confronted PAE demand letters on frivolous claims, settlements by and large are economically unavoidable.
Committee Members Are Cautious
The Subcommittee had before it a particular bill (H.R. 845; the Shield Act) to create a limited loser-pays system. It would award full costs to the prevailing party unless the plaintiff is (1) the inventor, (2) the original assignee, (3) one who produced or sold items covered by the patent, or (4) a university or technology transfer organization.
Patent and technology firm, Intellectual Ventures (IV), recently brought a new complaint against computer security company, Symantec, claiming that the company infringed on three of its patents. To be specific, the complaint alleges that three of Symantec’s products (Replicator, Veritas Volume Replicator, and ApplicationHA) “actively, knowingly and intentionally” infringed on three separate IV patents. Symantec was also sued as part of a different complaint by IV back in 2010, along with Trend Micro, McAfee, and Point Software Technologies.
The First Round
In 2010, former Microsoft exec. and IV founder, Nathan Myhrvold, brought three separate lawsuits against the three above-mentioned companies and six others, claiming that they would not sign licensing agreements, yet they continued to use IV’s patents. Apparently IV had held out on filing the lawsuits against the companies for as long as possible, and according to the company attorney, several attempts were made to negotiate with the companies; however, the negotiations were either unsuccessful or the companies refused to talk about the situation altogether.
Senator Ron Wyden (D- OR) is a man with an idea for lowering health care costs. Unfortunately, it’s an idea which proved disastrous the last time it was forced on the National Institutes of Health. But that hasn’t dissuaded the Senator from trotting it out again. He believes if a company commercializes a new drug whose development is in some way relatedto a cooperative R&D agreement (CRADA) it had at one time with NIH, that the government can then insure “a reasonable relationship between the pricing of a licensed product, the public investment in that product, and the health and safety needs of the public.”
Sen. Wyden seems sincere in his concern with the ever escalating costs of medicine. Unfortunately, his proposed solution empowering the government bureaucracy to second guess industry drug pricing decisions simply because they worked with NIH would make things worse. We could see fewer new drugs at any price. We may see more research shifted to India and China as our public research institutions are viewed as unreliable partners. And we may throw away a key strategic advantage of the hard pressed U.S. life science industry—its ability to draw on the unparalleled resources and expertise in our federal laboratory and university research systems.
If this path is chosen, we have fair warning of the hazards. We’ve been down it before.
With only 11 patent applications published last week by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, this marks a meager week for Apple Inc. Of the patent applications published by the USPTO, three are interrelated applications for managing access to rights-protected digital media. Other patent applications pertain to improvements to internal computer systems, including temperature control and serial bus connectivity.
Digital rights management, or DRM, has long been a major concern among computer systems manufacturers. The pervasiveness of digital media content, and the ease with which media files can be shared among computers, has made it difficult to adequately compensate media creators for their digital products. In some cases, computer developers have created DRM software that restricts access to a single user.
This top tier international firm is seeking an experienced and seasoned patent litigator for its Los Angeles office. The ideal candidate will have 2-6 years of Patent Litigation experience in ITC and District Court patent litigation. Preferred background will include an undergraduate degree in engineering, math, computer science or physics, and an advanced degree is a plus. Membership in the Patent Bar is preferred but not required. This firm requires stellar credentials and large firm experience.
Job #6 - Midlevel Patent Prosecution Associate (Chemistry) – Washington DC
This prominent international firm seeks a mid-level IP associate attorney with a Ph.D. in Chemistry (organic or medicinal chemistry preferred) for its Intellectual Property practice group in the Washington, D.C. office. A minimum of two years of experience in patent prosecution is required, with a focus on patent prosecution for domestic and international clients on technological developments in molecular biology, pharmaceuticals, bioinformatics, pharmaceutical small molecules, diagnostics, and medical methodologies and devices. Litigation experience is also valued. Excellent academic credentials and DC bar membership are required. This firm is known for fostering a terrific working environment, and is considered by many associates as a go-to firm for its culture and reputation.
High end IP boutique firm (headquartered in Washington D.C.) is seeking self-sustaining partners to help grow the firm’s San Diego office. The firm is seeking seasoned IP Litigators with some portable business. In operation for over 60 years, exclusively in the sphere of Intellectual Property, the firm offers a dynamic opportunity for growth and development.
Earlier this week, Gene announced that we have teamed up with a recruiting agency that focuses on Intellectual Property placements across the US. In an effort to help bring IP professionals together with the employers who are looking to hire them, I will be working with Angela Kopolovich of Alegna International to help match potential IP Professionals with new opportunities that are right for them. Initially we posted three jobs together to give you an idea of the types of positions we are looking to fill. Moving forward I will be posting 1-3 jobs per post. We encourage our readers to share these posts with anyone they feel would be a good fit for any of the positions we post. All submissions will be kept confidential.
Job # 4 ~ Junior IP Litigator – New York [Reference Code IPW004]
Large global firm with a full service platform, and a respected IP department, is seeking an intellectual property & technology associate for their New York office. The ideal candidate will have 1-3 years of patent litigation experience. Candidates must have an electrical engineering, chemical, or chemical engineering background. A license to practice law in New York is preferred but not required.
It is the Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition, and the Internet that has primary jurisdiction over matters relating to intellectual property matters. The Subcommittee’s jurisdiction includes copyright, patent, trademark law, information technology, antitrust matters and other appropriate matters as referred by the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. Thus, the House Subcommittee on IP that will be one of the primary focal points for any new legislation that deals with intellectual property over the next two years.
Representative Mel Watt was born in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina on August 26, 1945. He was a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1967 with a BS degree in Business Administration and in 1970 he received a JD degree from Yale University Law School. From 1970-1992, specializing in minority business and economic development law. In 1992, Representative Watt was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. He is member of the House Judiciary Committee, House Financial Services Committee and served as the Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus (2005-2006).
Earlier this week House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (VA-6) announced the House Judiciary Committee’s Republican subcommittee assignments for the 113th Congress. The subcommittee from the House of Representatives that has jurisdiction over matters relating to intellectual property is the Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition, and the Internet. This subcommittee has jurisdiction over copyright, patent, trademark law, information technology, antitrust matters, as well as other appropriate matters as referred by the Chairman. It is this House Subcommittee on IP that will be one of the primary focal points for any new legislation that deals with intellectual property over the next two years.
Representative Coble was born in Greensboro, NC, March 18, 1931. He served in the United States Coast Guard for over 5 years and later in the Coast Guard Reserves for 22 years. He served in the North Carolina House of Representatives prior to being elected to Congress in November 1984. In addition to being named the chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet, Representative Coble has received his other subcommittee assignments on both of his full committees. Congressman Coble will serve on a total of five subcommittees on the Judiciary and Transportation and Infrastructure panels.
The following article is the third of a three-part series. An abbreviated version of this article originally appeared in the Sept./Oct. 2012 issue of IAM Magazine.
In part one of this series, I explained that as a first-generation American whose parents emigrated from Haiti, the poorest country in the Western hemisphere, my mother always dreamed that her Ivy League-educated, lawyer son would become a civil rights lawyer. In an aim not to disappoint her, I explained that the civil rights movement was really about fighting for the economic rights of Black Americans. And, in the 21st century innovation-led world, economic rights are all about IP rights. Thus, as an IP lawyer, I can be a civil rights lawyer.
Also in part one, I pointed out the “gaps” or “divides” in our lexicon that measure the opportunity (or lack thereof) that certain populations have for economic success. These disparities include the “digital divide,” “education gap” and “wealth gap” that exist between the Black and White populations in the U.S. I also gave some historical perspective on the negative views of Black intellectual capacity against which we can look to the convergence of intellectual property (IP) with identity politics in assessing the current state of affairs.
In part two of this series, in my quest to determine if IP rights should be the new civil rights in America, I defined a new gap – the “Innovation Gap” – that focuses on the currency of our 21st century economy: “Innovation Gap: Disparities between classes of people, caused by societal hindrances, which prevent them from securing the IP rights necessary to economically exploit the fruits of their creativity.”
Now, I offer suggestions on how to bridge America’s innovation gap.
The following article is the second of a three-part series. An abbreviated version of this article originally appeared in the Sept./Oct. 2012 issue of IAM Magazine.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - -
One of the more indelible images of the civil rights movement are those from the Spring of 1968 as Black sanitation workers went on strike in Memphis, Tennessee holding signs that read “I am a Man,” in their fight for economic equality. (This is the reason that civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. was visiting Memphis when he was assassinated on April 4, 1968.) Now those signs should not only read “I am a Man Who Thinks,” but “I am a Man Who Thinks and My Thoughts are Valuable.”
In part one of this series, I pointed out the “gaps” or “divides” in our lexicon that measure the opportunity (or lack thereof) that certain populations have for economic success. These disparities include the “digital divide,” “education gap” and “wealth gap” that exist between the Black and White populations in the U.S. I also gave some historical perspective on the negative views of Black intellectual capacity against which we can look to the convergence of intellectual property (IP) with identity politics in assessing the current state of affairs.
Now, in my quest to determine if IP rights should be the new civil rights in America, I define a new gap that focuses on the currency of our 21st century economy. It is my position that a skillful IP attorney can be a modern day civil rights attorney by aiding Blacks to create IP rights in order to preserve their exclusive right to economically exploit the fruits of their creativity.
The following article is the first of a three-part series. An abbreviated version of this article originally appeared in the Sept./Oct. 2012 issue of IAM Magazine.
Elijiah McCoy, holder of 57 patents and a member of the National Inventors Hall of Fame.
As a first-generation American whose parents emigrated from Haiti, the poorest country in the Western hemisphere, the Civil Rights movement has always interested me. In fact, my mother always dreamed that her Ivy League-educated, lawyer son would become a civil rights lawyer. I am, however, an Intellectual Property (IP) lawyer. That is, I deal with the patent, copyright, trademark and trade secret laws for clients who are mostly in the electronics, software, financial services and e-commerce fields. This is not exactly the job description of an NAACP attorney.
In an aim not to disappoint my mother, however, I’ve always argued to her as follows: “The civil rights movement was really about fighting for the economic rights of Black Americans – the right to equal pay, the right to spend their money anywhere they wish, etc. In the 21st century innovation-led world, economic rights are all about IP rights. How so? Well, less than 5% of American workers are now employed in manufacturing. America is becoming very much a white-collar society, the outputs of which are intangibles protectable by IP rights. That is how we Americans measure wealth and that is how I can help fellow Black Americans.” A skeptical “hmm,” is how she always replied. Well, after really examining the current state of affairs, I too am starting to become skeptical of my own argument! But should I be?
Yesterday, Kolon Industries Inc. and several of its executives and employees were indicted for allegedly engaging in a multi-year campaign to steal trade secrets related to DuPont’s Kevlar para-aramid fiber and Teijin Limited’s Twaron para-aramid fiber. The charges were announced today by U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia Neil H. MacBride; Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; and Jeffrey C. Mazanec, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Richmond Field Office.
Headquartered in Seoul, South Korea, Kolon was indicted by a grand jury in Richmond, Virginia. The indictment charges Kolon with one count of conspiring to convert trade secrets, four counts of theft of trade secrets, and one count of obstruction of justice. The indictment further seeks forfeiture of at least $225 million in proceeds from the alleged theft of trade secrets.
How to Write a Patent Application is a must own for patent attorneys, patent agents and law students alike. A crucial hands-on resource that walks you through every aspect of preparing and filing a patent application, from working with an inventor to patent searches, preparing the patent application, drafting claims and more. The treatise is continuously updated to address relevant Federal Circuit and Supreme Court decision impacting patent drafting.
Typically blog roll links are not helpful to a website's rank. To give some additional "link love" to those we think you might be interested in reading we have moved our blog roll and links to a dedicated page. Go to IPWatchdog Blog Roll & Links.