Open for Business: How Intellectual Property Supports Our Entrepreneurs

By Patrick Kilbride
April 26, 2021

“Throughout the pandemic, intellectual property protections have empowered rapid solutions delivery, prioritized consumer safety, and inspired cultural connectivity and development for people around the world.”

We're Open VintageStarting a business is steeped with uncertainty, especially during a global pandemic. Small business owners are constantly running through the scenarios: Can I make payroll? Will I recoup my investment? Can I change my community for the better?

There are plenty of systems at play that tell them, “No.” It’s too difficult to get a loan; the commercial real estate market is too competitive; advertising and marketing is too expensive. Even so, there’s one system that sings a resounding, “Yes!”

That’s America’s intellectual property system.

Our nation’s intellectual property protections assure entrepreneurs that having a good idea is all the potential they need. It affords creators the possibility that their idea can hold value and become an asset, and even a livelihood. Whether it’s the lyrics to a new song or the algorithm behind a new app, intellectual property gives creators and innovators the ownership to develop their idea and then leverage that ownership into new products and services that benefit all of us.

Of course, that’s easier said than done. The path from mind to market is full of twists and turns. And yet, it’s well-traveled, because as intellectual property rights promise, the results can be transformative.  Fortunately, reliable intellectual property rights put innovators and creators at the center of a healthy multi-stakeholder ecosystems making available a wealth of resources and partnerships to move an idea from concept to commercialization. The business community’s response to COVID-19 is the perfect case study.

Throughout the pandemic, intellectual property protections have empowered rapid solutions delivery, prioritized consumer safety, and inspired cultural connectivity and development for people around the world.

Patents have empowered rapid solutions delivery.

Already, the innovative biopharmaceutical sector has delivered several effective vaccines and therapeutics to combat coronavirus. The innovative medical technology industry has delivered scores of diagnostics tests. And all the while, scientists are conducting more than a thousand COVID-19-related clinical trials in local hospitals and universities across all 50 states.

Patents have enabled the incredible investments in these efforts because protecting uniqueness gives these products value – we’re talking billions of dollars of investment into years of research for a single drug. By defining clear, predictable rights, they’ve also enabled the fruitful collaboration between government and private sector that has spurred faster and broader access.

Trademarks have prioritized consumer safety. 

Counterfeit goods – or goods that are sold under another name without the originator’s authorization – can be extremely dangerous. Counterfeit pharmaceuticals, including counterfeit vaccines, often contain no active ingredient, or, worse yet, may contain dangerous ingredients, like toxic chemicals and compounds. Counterfeit masks, for example, are made with inferior materials that don’t protect the wearer from disease transmission.

Trademarks make it easy for consumers to recognize trusted brands – like Pfizer or 3M – that offer tested products. They also help law enforcement officials prosecute bad actors who use those trademarks maliciously. In 2020 alone, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) seized millions of fake COVID-19-related products. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Copyright fuels cultural connectivity and development.

COVID-19 shuttered movie theaters, turned the lights out on Broadway, and cancelled concerts virtually overnight. But that hasn’t stopped creators from maintaining a near-constant stream of new content. Every night and every weekend, we’re able to enjoy the latest books, music, movies, and television shows safely at home.

That kind of output and access is only possible via strong copyright norms. The 2021 U.S. Chamber International IP Index found that countries with healthy copyright environments have twice the access to new music through secure platforms. On the publishing front, countries with healthy copyright environments have five times more knowledge output in academic journals.

Now more than ever, we should be viewing the global intellectual property system through a lens of celebration. That sentiment is even more salient today, on World Intellectual Property Day, created by the World Intellectual Property Organization to raise awareness about how patent, copyright, and trademark-protected products enhance daily life. But let’s do more than raise awareness, let’s raise appreciation, too.

Strong intellectual property protections are delivering us from the current pandemic, and they’ll help us defeat the next one by empowering America’s innovators and creators, small and large.

Image Source: Deposit Photos
Author: picsgeek
Image ID: 21440795 

The Author

Patrick Kilbride

Patrick Kilbride is vice president of international intellectual property for the Global Intellectual Property Center (GIPC) at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Kilbride oversees the center’s multilateral and international programs promoting the protection and enforcement of intellectual property (IP) rights, managing a team of country and regional experts. Previously, Kilbride was Executive Director, Americas Strategic Policy Initiatives, and Executive Vice President, Association of American Chambers of Commerce in Latin America (AACCLA), within the Chamber’s International Division. Prior to joining the U.S. Chamber, Kilbride was appointed to serve in the Bush administration as deputy assistant U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) for Intergovernmental Affairs & Public Liaison. At USTR, Kilbride worked with state and local officials, business organizations, and non-governmental organizations to advance the President’s trade policy agenda; he served as USTR liaison to the network of industry trade advisory committees (ITACs), as well as the President’s Export Council; and, he was part of a White House-led, inter-agency team that coordinated efforts to secure congressional approval of pending U.S. free trade agreements.

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. Josh Malone April 27, 2021 8:45 am

    Will the USPTO side with an infringer to revoke our previously approved patent? Yes!

    The U.S. patent system does not protect inventors. It protects large corporations FROM inventors.

  2. PTO-indentured April 27, 2021 11:14 am

    US Entrepreneurs — Now read this! From IPW.com just five days ago:

    You’ll need to know about the “many obstacles facing patentees today in light of the PTAB” unleashed by PTO’s ‘AIA’ — how

    “it has become clear that many of the assumptions made by Congress about how the AIA proceedings would work have been proven unreliable” “because proceedings have turned out to be tilted in favor of petitioners” (i.e., those wanting your patents invalidated).

    For patentees: “defending their patent is going to be “really hard.” Largely because of the PTAB, it will be several years before a patentee can even begin asserting their patent, no one is going to take a license, and in the meantime, you have to win every single battle; you lose once and it’s over”

    “AIA was meant to streamline patent enforcement, it’s still a “multi-headed monster.” … patentees have to realize that, in the current environment, their patent doesn’t mean much until it’s been tested via one or more wins at the PTAB and in the courts.” (which can now cost $3M to $4M per litigated case — and unless your damages are $100M+ based on multiple ‘tested-patents’ good luck in getting a litigation funder).

    To entrepreneur patentees: “We can send letters if you want, but they’re going to get ignore and you’re not going to get anyone to take a license and pay you money on your patent until they’re backed up against a wall and they have to” Addy (litigation expert) said.

    “This is in contrast to a time in the 1990s when IBM, for instance, licensed tens of thousands of patents, netting billions of dollars, and they never had to file a single lawsuit, Michel said. “We had the honor system. What flipped the dynamic is the passage of the AIA. The world was turned upside down by the IPRs, as implemented at the PTO.” and “You have what has become in practice a declaratory judgment of invalidity trial in the PTAB, with none of the protections or process used in district court” — CAFC chief Judge Michel.

    “Even worse the CAFC seems to give extreme deference to the PTAB based on the “substantial evidence”* standard and has given short shrift to their obligation to review legal conclusions without deference.” … “the Federal Circuit has basically jettisoned the final part of the assessment … they affirm and the affirmance rate is something north of 90%.” (*lowest-bar available).

    sua sponte waiver of oral argument by the CAFC has become common in about 50% of the cases coming up from the PTAB—a figure Quinn called “astonishing.” “When the PTAB was created, there was a prediction that there would be about 500 IPRs per year, but it has been 3.5 to 4 times that number since almost the beginning.”

    And in closing: “Congress turned out to be wrong,” Michel said. “They thought IPRs would be rather rare, they turned out to be ubiquitous.” While Michel argued Congress really needs to fix the mess, he agreed it would likely be “years and years” before that happens. … the USPTO remains user-funded, its tech systems are outdated by comparison, and examiner turnover is high. “The question in my mind is whether we’ll fix our patent system soon enough to avoid getting irretrievably behind other rivals, particularly China,” Michel said.

  3. Jacek April 27, 2021 3:02 pm

    “here’s one system that sings a resounding, “Yes!”

    That’s America’s intellectual property system.”
    WOW!!!!!
    Aren’t you 20 years behind?
    Or did you recently parachute yourself on the earth from the Moon?

  4. Bluelake April 28, 2021 3:24 pm

    Josh Malone, PTO-indentured and Jacek, thank you for pointing out the several misstatements by Mr. Kilbride. Apparently he hasn’t bothered to check out the destruction of the US Patent system which has been caused by the AIA. Hopefullly he will report the true state of US patent law back to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

  5. Pro Say April 29, 2021 7:31 pm

    “there’s one system that sings a resounding, “Yes!’”

    Only if you spell “America” . . . C – H – I – N – A.

  6. Erfinder April 30, 2021 2:46 pm

    Rampant Corruption?
    1) political (voting system)
    2) health care (vaccines)
    3) intellectual property (patents)

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