Iancu Weighs in on IP Waiver, Critical Role of Patents for SMEs at World IP Day Event

By Gene Quinn
April 27, 2021

“If we waive IP rights, and exclude the original manufacturers, how are we going to control the quality of the vaccines that go into people’s arms? How are we going to control for the fake vaccines?” – Andrei Iancu at World IP Day event

“Property rights are not just good for the economy, they save lives”, Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform, said yesterday, speaking at Innovating the Future: Celebrating 2021 World IP Day, which was sponsored by the Property Rights Alliance. Norquist would go on to conclude his brief opening remarks lamenting, “the damage that would be done if some of the critics of intellectual property have their way.”

[[Advertisement]]

An Immediate Danger

World IP DayNorquist was implicitly referring to an IP waiver proposal by South Africa and India, which would allow nations to ignore patent rights relating to COVID-19 related innovations, particularly vaccines. This waiver of the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) is a truly bad idea, and one addressed head on by Andrei Iancu, senior adviser to the Renewing America Innovation Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and former Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

“I think that the waiver proposal is a dangerous proposal for many reasons. One, it is dangerous to innovation,” Iancu explained. “More importantly, the waiver imposes an immediate danger to widespread dissemination of the vaccine.”

Iancu, responding to a question from the audience, explained that large and small companies are collaborating, and cited India, which is going to make 1 billion doses of the vaccine, as an example of success. Such a large dose of the vaccine would make India second only to the United States.

“If you remove IP, companies are going to retreat into their trade secret shells and be less likely to collaborate,” Iancu explained. His culminating point related to his desire to make sure policies are adopted to ensure the world is prepared for the next pandemic.

World IP Day, IancuFurthermore, “if we waive IP rights, and exclude the original manufacturers, how are we going to control the quality of the vaccines that go into people’s arms? How are we going to control for the fake vaccines? Just last week we saw fake Pfizer vaccines,” Iancu said with emphasis. “The system is working well; we have already deployed 1 billion shots, by the end of May it will be 2 billion, by the end of the year it will be 9 to 10 billion shots, enough to vaccinate all adults around the world… the system is working, let it work for its intended purposes.”

The theme for World IP Day this year relates to the importance of IP for SMEs, which make up 90% of the world’s businesses, according to Philippe Baechtold, WIPO Senior Director, PCT Services. SMEs are more likely to achieve high growth in subsequent years. SMEs with intellectual property rights have 68% higher revenue than those that do not own any form of intellectual property rights. SMEs that own a combination of patents, trademarks and design rights, generate double the revenue than companies that do not own any IP rights. Unfortunately, “fewer than 9% of SMEs in Europe own any type of IP rights,” Baechtold explained.

‘Patents are Primarily for SMEs’

Iancu used his primary presentation to tell a story, which is common for his speeches. He told the audience about two engineers who, in the mid 1990s, in the prime of their careers, thought they would strike out on their own. They left really good jobs, depleted their savings, and with really good ideas they received several patents. “TiVO changed the way we watched television,” Iancu said as he revealed the company he was discussing.

The issue for TiVo, Iancu explained, was that big cable and satellite companies decide they did not want to work with TiVo, and when pressed by their customers to incorporate the innovative features included in TiVo products, they decided to copy rather than license. Luckily TiVo had patents, was able to get injunctions and ultimately got nearly $2 billion.

“What would TiVo have done without patents?” Iancu asked. “Patents are critical from an economics point of view.”

Patents increase growth by almost 40%. SMEs create nearly two-thirds of all new jobs. “Now we understand how important patents are to SMEs and how important patents are to the overall economy. “Patents are primarily for SMEs,” Iancu said, because “SMEs have few other tools to win… they do not have economies of scale,” for example. If you want competition, if you want to prevent monopolistic behavior, and you want to give the little guy a shot at winning, you want patents for SMEs, Iancu told the World IP Day virtual audience.

The Author

Gene Quinn

Gene Quinn is a Patent Attorney and Editor and President & CEO ofIPWatchdog, Inc.. Gene founded IPWatchdog.com in 1999. Gene is also a principal lecturer in the PLI Patent Bar Review Course and Of Counsel to the law firm of Berenato & White, LLC. Gene’s specialty is in the area of strategic patent consulting, patent application drafting and patent prosecution. He consults with attorneys facing peculiar procedural issues at the Patent Office, advises investors and executives on patent law changes and pending litigation matters, and works with start-up businesses throughout the United States and around the world, primarily dealing with software and computer related innovations. is admitted to practice law in New Hampshire, is a Registered Patent Attorney and is also admitted to practice before the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. CLICK HERE to send Gene a message.

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 8 Comments comments. Join the discussion.

  1. Josh Malone April 27, 2021 7:49 pm

    I disagree. The speakers are wringing their hands about the potential damage to the patent system. Norquist is uninformed and Iancu is in denial. IT CANNOT GET WORSE. We are past the bottom. Patents no longer promote innovation, they block it.

    Abolishing patents would be a substantial improvement to the status quo.

    Today patents are privileges doled out to large corporations that sponsor the politicians. Patents are used almost exclusively by large corporations to kill off small innovative competitors. They never ever work as theorized for SMEs.

    The speakers warnings are 15 years too late. It already happened. Big tech and China won.

    If they were serious, they would join me in calling for an end to compelled USPTO patent revocations.

    https://usinventor.org/resolution

  2. Concerned April 28, 2021 8:08 am

    The wrongs of the current patent environment will only end when America is on the edge of imminent doom.

    Same as the subprime mortgage crisis. Everyone in the field knew of the subprime fraud, big money was being made dishonestly, yet nobody stepped in to right the sub prime mortgage situation until America was on the edge of financial collapse. The wife of the manager of the biggest bond fund in the world was told by her husband that she may not be able to withdraw $200 from the ATM that September Monday morning, the financial system may freeze up.

    It is obvious that the patent system is suspect, I cannot even get a straight answer. Nobody is going to correct it when the choosen few are making alot of money gaming the system.

    It is like a dance when a person knows the party ends at approximately midnight. So they dance with the devil right up to the last moment thinking they can milk their bad or irresponsible behavior to the very last moment, then get out in time. The last moment comes earlier then expected and the boom gets lowered. (Preceding anology borrowed from Warren Buffett about stock market bubbles.)

    The patent system will be milked for all its worth to gain unjust financial rewards. People in authority will tells us life in the big city is great up to the last moment. The boom will be lowered earlier then expected and beyond the control of those gaming the patent system, and finger pointing will start from those who did nothing to prevent the disaster.

    Nothing new under the sun.

  3. Anon April 28, 2021 9:14 am

    Kudos Josh, for telling it like is is!
    No independent inventor in their right mind would participate in this “quagmire of corruption”.

  4. PTO-Indentured April 28, 2021 2:26 pm

    Honor is gone.

    Disrespect of U.S. patents made 99%-defenseless, appears to have been made irreversible.

    Stealing U.S patents — ‘use’ them, with zero compensation — is a highly-prized norm.

    A double-standard Caste system — of U.S. inventors with innovations-made-defenseless — enabled by AIA and its PTAB, prevails. Despite such subordinated “patentees not getting fair treatment” being recognized as “horribly clear” prior to 2013!.

    Members of congress, appearing before cameras, seemed to tout a U.S. ‘patents strong’ agenda, but remediating action(s) absent since AIA’s 2011 inception, looks to have wrought more of a U.S. ‘patents wrong’ reality. Such meetings, so long as they begin with words and end with words, will never right this wrong.

    Conflicts of interest — numerous.

  5. PTO-Indentured April 28, 2021 2:35 pm

    Honor is gone.

    Disrespect of U.S. patents made 99%-defenseless, appears to have been made irreversible.

    Stealing U.S patents — ‘use’ them, with zero compensation — is the norm.

    A double-standard Caste system — of U.S. inventors with innovations-made-defenseless — enabled by AIA and its PTAB, prevails. Despite such subordinated “patentees not getting fair treatment” being recognized as “horribly clear” prior to 2013!.

    Members of congress, appearing before cameras, seemed to tout a U.S. ‘patents strong’ agenda, but remediating action(s) absent since AIA’s 2011 inception, looks to have wrought more of a U.S. ‘patents wrong’ reality. Such meetings, so long as they begin with words and end with words, will never right this wrong.

    Conflicts of interest — numerous.

  6. Jacek April 28, 2021 3:24 pm

    In my own personal experience, this is precisely how it played out in a communist country (two of them exactly I know). Listening to the propaganda about freedom, people’s rights, etc., you could not agree more. The western democratic politician was left in the dust behind. But when it comes to the REAL execution of citizen rights, it was the same as today’s inventor’s property rights in the U.S.

    In the U.S. Congress, they are going tell you that the SOCIETY has more rights to your invention than you, the actual creator – individual.

    With Supreme court judges and Congress staffers dissipating to the involuntary listeners today’s theories about “Community rights” to the individual (Inventor) fruit of labor, There is no doubt that we are dealing with
    Trojan Horses of communism.
    Who is pushing such narratives?

    Is this infection coming from circles of Google founder? Sergey Brin (born August 21, 1973, Moscow, Russia, U.S.S.R.),?
    With unlimited amounts of money, you can sway a lot of nonbelievers.

    I know how it sounds but………………

    Maybe it is time for reeducation.

  7. Anon April 28, 2021 5:51 pm

    Thank you PTO-indentured,
    I couldn’t agree more!

  8. George April 28, 2021 6:44 pm

    Thank you Jacek,
    I couldn’t agree more!

Post a Comment

Respectfully add to the discussion.

Name *
Email *
Website