Biden’s Opportunity to Protect American Innovation

By Arvin Patel
January 19, 2021

“Biden said over and over during his campaign, ‘I view this as a campaign between Scranton and Park Avenue,” in comparing his industrial hometown to his opponent’s roots in Manhattan. Well, this is an immediate opportunity for Biden to stand up for the ‘little guy.’”

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When Joe Biden became President-elect Biden, he asked us to imagine a new, more hopeful version of America. He urged us to work toward leaving a “grim era” behind – a COVID-19 outbreak, economic devastation, social unrest, and a contentious election. It won’t be easy to recover, and it will require that Americans do something recently seen as undoable – unite, cooperate, and innovate.

President-elect Biden immediately took a step in the right direction, though, pledging to be a president who “does not see red or blue states, but United States.” His economic priorities are also clearly expressed in the first sentence of his Build Back Better economic plan, which states, “Joe Biden believes to his core that there’s no greater economic engine in the world than the hard work and ingenuity of the American people.” These are encouraging sentiments, but to make more substantial inroads his rhetoric will hopefully be supported by real policy. Improving the protection of America’s intellectual property (IP) is an economic opportunity that he needs to capitalize on.

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Biden Must Take Immediate Action on Innovation

America must continue to be an IP-driven economy. Overall, the direct and indirect impacts of innovation account for more than 40% of U.S. economic growth and employment. Unfortunately, right now, we’re suffering losses that we can’t afford. Every year, Chinese IP theft costs the U.S. economy between $225 and $600 billion. Since 2001, more than 3.4 million American manufacturing jobs have been lost to China. Particularly considering COVID-19’s economic impact and the ongoing uphill recovery, immediate action needs to be taken.

First, we need to organize our domestic innovation strategy. We’ve all heard the adage, “Those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.” Well, when it comes to IP, America can’t help but throw stones.

There’s a reason that we’ve contributed more to the last century of innovation than any other country – we break rules, defy norms, and exceed expectations. So, we need to make sure our patent laws can withstand the stones that will inevitably come our way. Simply put, that means simplifying and expanding our eligibility laws. For a country whose economy counts on broad-based innovation, we can no longer afford the self-inflicted wound of restrictive, unnecessarily complicated laws.

Amending these eligibility laws would complement a larger effort as well – incentivizing all forms of innovation. Right now, huge areas of technology, such as diagnostic medicine and computer innovation, are ineligible for patenting. This is because of the influence of a small set of large tech companies who benefit from controlling the newest technologies. But what’s best for these companies isn’t what’s best for America’s future. We need our next generation of innovators to be encouraged and inspired – that starts with allowing them to patent their ideas.

Inspiring America’s innovators also means protecting them. The United States currently has weak IP laws that allow larger companies to take advantage of smaller ones. Biden said over and over during his campaign, “I view this as a campaign between Scranton and Park Avenue,” in comparing his industrial hometown to his opponent’s roots in Manhattan. Well, this is an immediate opportunity for Biden to stand up for the “little guy.” We need to change the perverse incentives in IP law so that America is investing in innovators, not litigators. This has never been more important to remember than during COVID-19.

Fuel the Fire

Public health emergencies have historically brought out anti-patent opportunists who claim that the therapies and vaccines being developed are made less available to the public because of patents. The claim is that patents increase price, make production less widespread, and that the public already paid for the drug’s development through taxes.

This argument ignores a simple, yet crucial reality that has never been more important to remember: patent grants exists to incentivize innovators to invest their precious time, passion, and money on the risky proposition of creating something new. As President Abraham Lincoln said, patents add the “fuel of interest to the fire of genius.” To recover from COVID-19 as effectively as possible and achieve President-elect Biden’s goal of a united, successful America, he should look no further than recognizing the value of America’s innovators and fight to protect them now.

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The Author

Arvin Patel

Arvin Patel is Chief Operating Officer of Intellectual Ventures’ Invention Investment Fund and an inventor and leading voice on entertainment innovation and policy. Patel has overseen R&D and IP for some of the world’s leading companies, driving technology investments, and creating non-traditional strategies to develop products and services.

Warning & Disclaimer: The pages, articles and comments on IPWatchdog.com do not constitute legal advice, nor do they create any attorney-client relationship. The articles published express the personal opinion and views of the author as of the time of publication and should not be attributed to the author’s employer, clients or the sponsors of IPWatchdog.com. Read more.

Discuss this

There are currently 6 Comments comments. Join the discussion.

  1. Model 101 January 19, 2021 4:44 pm

    Biden is an even bigger crook than Obama.

    Dont invent anything. Its a waste of money.

    Youll just teach big tech how to do it.

  2. Anon January 19, 2021 5:55 pm

    I had chided a respected judge on another thread recently for being Pollyanna.

    That judge does not hold a candle to the level of wishful thinking in evidence here. To take anything Biden said on the campaign trail as anything but typical politician “elect me” empty rhetoric (rather than looking at his past deeds including 47 years in office) reminds of the saying, “ fool me once, shame on you, fool me for the 48th year, and I should not have opened my mouth…”

  3. Benny January 20, 2021 12:11 pm

    Anon,
    Were you offered a better option? Between a rock and a hard place, no?

  4. Anon January 20, 2021 1:20 pm

    Benny,

    I did offer a better option. See my replies to the good Judge.

  5. Jacek January 20, 2021 3:02 pm

    I have heard on BBC similar BS. Hail to the king.
    What would push Biden to reverse his and his boss Obama’s approach to patents? Isn’t he a coauthor of the 2011 America Invents Act?
    He is relying on old guards.
    I think eventually, the reverse is going to happen.
    Sleep with the dogs, and you will wake up with the fleas.
    To make the real change SCREAM, to be heard. and DO not STOP.

  6. Pro Say January 20, 2021 4:04 pm

    You got that right, Arvin. Thanks.

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