Having just talked to law students about getting their resumes ready in case the economy does come back to life sooner than some expect, I thought I might write about my thoughts on the economy, where patent practice is headed, when we will get out of our economic malaise and how to prepare yourself in advance to be ready when the job market, and patent market, turns the corner, which we all know it will do.
Some will question me writing about tax policy, but the undeniable truth is that tax policy is enormously important to businesses of all sizes, including small businesses. Tax policy also affects job creation, because anytime businesses have to pay more and retain less that increases operating costs, which necessarily leaves less to reinvest in the business. This affects all sorts of things, including but not limited to lay-offs, a failure to create jobs and the investment in the creation of innovation. History shows us that when business is bad and revenues decrease businesses of all sizes typically cut back on activities necessary to innovate. When you look for less you find less, so this can and does negatively impact innovation. Innovation, job creation and a variety of matters important to small businesses are common topics here on IPWatchdog.com. With this backdrop I leap to take on the un-reported story relating to the fact that expiration of the Bush tax cuts will impact virtually all small businesses, not just the 3% of small businesses continually, and inaccurately, stated by the Democrats.
On Wednesday, September 8, 2010, the Wall Street Journal published commentary titled Want to Create Jobs? Certainly Don’t Rely on the USPTO, which was an attempted rebuttal of the NY Times op-ed written by Chief Judge Paul Michel and Tessera CEO Hank Nothhaft, which was titled Inventing Our Way Out of Joblessness. I say that it was an attempted rebuttal because simply stated the article was embarrassingly incorrect about virtually everything it stated as fact, and provably so. The fact that the Wall Street Journal published such complete and utter nonsense, which could have been proven to be factually incorrect had anyone even read the study relied upon by the authors, is quite sad. Those who don’t believe innovation leads to job creation have their heads firmly implanted in the sand and simply must choose to ignore history, which proves otherwise.
In looking around for something to write I stumbled across a press release from August 10, 2010, issued by Your Baby Can, LLC. This is the company that advertises almost non-stop on Sirius/XM every morning, at least on ESPN Radio, claiming that all you have to do is put your children in front of the video and they miraculously learn to read. I have often joked about the commercial and how unrealistic and almost comical it seems, but when I noticed a copyright/counterfeiting angle I was immediately intrigued.
Center for Functional Nanomaterials at
Brookhaven National Laboratory, USA.
According to a new report from Lux Research, global funding for nanotech increased only 1% (relative to 2008) to $17.7 billion in 2009. The publication of patent applications and number of granted patents rose at a more impressive rate, 11% and 5%, respectively. The report also found that the United States, Germany and Japan are still home to the most nanotech innovations in terms of absolute number, but that smaller markets such as Taiwan, Singapore, Israel and South Korea are more focused on nanotech and are more adept in commercializing such technologies. The report also indicates that despite impressive investments and attempt to become significant havens for nanotechnology, China and Russia are still far from threatening the status quo.
This past Sunday there was a brief but very interesting segment on Fox New Sunday that actually discussed the plight of the United States Patent and Trademark Office and how the enormous backlog of inventions in the queue at the USPTO is preventing organic job growth at a time when our economy desperately needs job creation. Sitting in for Chris Wallace was Brett Baier. He was interviewing Mark Zandi, who is Chief Economist for Moody’s Analytics, and Liz Claman, an anchor on the Fox Business News channel. The topic for this 11:54 second segment was the health of the U.S. economy and what can and should be done by our leaders in Washington, DC. Surprisingly, at least to me, Claman brought up the USPTO as an ideal opportunity for “instant stimulus.”
David Kappos told CBS the biggest problem is the backlog and the PTO needs more money. "It's no taxpayer dollars at all-- all the fees we collect come from patent applicants."
Straight from the “it’s about time” department comes breaking word that the so-called popular press are finally identifying the most under reported news story of this recession. The United States Patent and Trademark Office is foundering and it needs more money in order to do its job. That alone ought to be newsworthy, but add the fact that the Patent Office is the one agency of government with the ability to recognize assets out of whole cloth and have industry organically grow as a direct result and without ANY taxpayer dollars. The fact that the Patent Office can without any taxpayer dollars directly influence and creation of new, high paying jobs makes it virtually criminal that the elite press, who has reported on virtually every angle of this recession, has ignored the engine that could get us out of this mess.
David Kappos, Under Secretary of Commerce and USPTO Director
On Monday, July 19, 2010, I was granted behind the scenes access to the United States Patent and Trademark Office, and was allowed to follow USPTO Director David Kappos throughout the day as he went from meeting to meeting. I have already chronicled much of the events of the day in the previous article– Behind the Scenes: A Day in the Life of David Kappos. At the end of the day I was granted a 30 minute interview with Director Kappos, which appears below.
In this interview Kappos discusses with me his management style, his famously long hours, how he manages to inspire the Office to work harder than ever before, his efforts to get funding for the Office, how the USPTO can help innovators create new businesses and new jobs, and how to inspire young people to do public service. We also learn that he and Judge Rader share the same favorite movie (see Judge Rader Interview at the end), he likes Star Trek and Star Wars equally (an astute political answer no doubt) and the famous American inventor he would like to meet is a “Mount Rushmore” inventor.
On July 9, 2010, I interviewed the recently retired Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, the Honorable Paul Michel. Judge Michel and I talked on the record for 1 hour and 40 minutes at the University Club in Washington, DC, where he is a member. This is Part 2 of a 4 part series. In Part 1, On the Record Interview with Chief Judge Paul Michel, Part 1, we discussed judicial ethics and how cloistered members of the federal judiciary are, his role in investigating President Nixon in Watergate and his role as lead prosecutor investigating many Members of Congress in the Koreagate investigation, among other things.
In this installment we start out talking about Judge Michel’s work for Senator Arlen Specter and how today there seems to be a slow and steady decline in the checks and balances intended to be a part of the federal system. This lead us into talking about the Founding Fathers and how they viewed intellectual property, and patents in particular, as critically important. We discussed how the Patent Office used to be held in such esteem by the Founding Fathers and many generations, and how that seems to be a relic of the past. We also discussed how Judge Michel would like to become “public nuisance #1″ and a trouble-maker as he attempts to proselytize for the patent system and a more responsible federal government.
Earlier today the Wall Street Journal gave front page space to a story relating to the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Widely regarded as one of the “papers of record” in the United States, one might expect that the Wall Street Journal had brought its considerable clout to an important issue plaguing our time, such as an horribly under funded Patent Office that is holding innovation hostage, costing America perhaps millions of jobs. NO! Rather than educate itself and others, thereby exposing in real terms for the everyday observer the plight of the Patent Office and what it means to the United States economy, the Wall Street Journal wrote a front page article on the errant creation of a trademark class associated with medical marijuana.
Don’t get me wrong, every tabloid should have front page news story about pot, medical marijuana and have an image of a VW bus over the tag “the Canny Bus,” as the Journal did earlier today. Call me crazy, but I expected more from the Wall Street Journal.
Congressman Conyers seems interested in providing funding to the USPTO
Recently the United States Patent and Trademark Office released its draft Strategic Plan for FY 2010 – 2015. This may seem odd given that FY 2010 is almost over, ending on September 30, 2010. So it is probably a better title to call it the FY 2011 – 2015 Strategic Plan, but there is no doubt as you read the document that under the guidance of Director David Kappos the USPTO has already well launched the short term Strategic Plan. Now if Congress would only be wise enough to grant funding for the Patent Office to actually accomplish what needs to be done!
Truth be told, it would be enough for Congress to just (1) stop siphoning off money from the USPTO through fee diversion; (2) grant the USPTO fee setting authority; and (3) stand out of the way. So my message to Congress would be this: put the pocketbook down, slowly step back and raise your hands over your head so we can see them!
Draft plan sets priorities to strengthen the USPTO, drive innovation and support economic growth
Washington – Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) David Kappos announced today that the USPTO’s draft Strategic Plan for fiscal years (FY) 2010-2015 is posted for public review and comment on the USPTO Web site at www.uspto.gov.
The draft 2010-2015 Strategic Plan sets out the USPTO’s mission-focused strategic goals: to optimize patent quality and timeliness; to optimize trademark quality and timeliness; and to provide global and domestic leadership to improve intellectual property (IP) policy, protection, and enforcement worldwide.