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Posts in Interviews & Conversations

IV founder Edward Jung says US is losing its competitive edge in funding innovative startups

EDWARD JUNG: ”At the other end of that value chain you now have some of the most valuable companies in the entire world in places like China. What stops them from taking all of the value they’ve been able to derive from their over one billion population base, which well capitalizes them, and coming in and competing in the US? The US has not seen so many threats to their industry come from outside the US as opposed to within the US so in that sense I think that’s a whole new set of interesting problems to think about. I’ve actually had encounters with Chinese companies asking if there was some kind of, you know, hidden trick in the way we appear to be opening our market for them to freely come in without any IP barriers. For example, in pairing software and IP and so on and so forth.”

Mildly bullish on patent market heading into 2016

Ashley Keller: ”I am mildly bullish, because we’re coming from such a low point that it is likely to improve from here. We just talked about the Supreme Court and the willfulness case. I also think that Europe’s unitary patent system is going to be an eye-opener, because it has the potential to be better than our system’s status quo. Competition is a healthy force, and the new system will drive innovation over there. People are going to pay attention to that, and as a consequence, it may improve things over here.”

The difficult environment for monetizing patent rights

Ashley Keller: ”I think the market is challenging right now. I wouldn’t say it’s deteriorating—it’s more stable than it’s been—but I think it’s a challenging market. There has been a fair amount of court activity, with a lot of it potentially negative for patent monetization and patentees. In terms of things on the horizon, Congress seems to perhaps have decided not to pursue patent reform this year, but that is always something that’s looming large in the background. And some of the reform proposals had some decent ideas in them, but they were sandwiched between some ideas that were potentially going to weaken patent rights even further. So until that risk is decidedly off the table, I think the patentees have to be cognizant of it. All of that leads to a difficult environment for monetizing IP rights for the moment.”

Sell Your Ideas With or Without a Patent

As Key works with inventors he coaches, who he refers to as students because he teaches them how to do much of the work for themselves, he explained that increasingly he is seeing interest on the part of companies in licensing inventions without a patent attached to the product. ”What we have noticed is that companies say they care about patents, but the bottom line is really about speed to market and how fast they are going to be able to sell them,” Key explained. ”The life cycle for products is so short.”

On the Record with IAM’s Richard Lloyd

I think it’s interesting to see how people present this as a bipartisan issue but that covers up the fact that actually there are some very clear splits within the parties themselves. A number of the conservative think tanks and interest groups have come out and come out very strongly against broad-based patent reform. But, if you look at some of the Republicans in the House and Senate who support legislation they have not really addressed that property right piece and have focused more on litigation reform and things like fee shifting which they feel need to be part of any strong reform package. So the politics is quite split and is actually quite nuanced which I’m not sure people always appreciate.

A patent conversation with Mark Cuban

CUBAN: I have invested in more than 150 companies and never has having or not having a patent impacted the final decision. Small businesses can and do become great without patents. The problem for little guys with patents is that no patent lives in a vacuum. Particularly with software and technology. There is always a work around and you can always find a patent that enables the big guy to sue the little guy. So with just few exceptions the current system doesn’t protect anyone.

Sharon Israel, AIPLA prepare for Annual Meeting of IP Practitioners

“It has met and exceeded my expectations,” Sharon Israel told me during a recent interview to discuss her term as AIPLA President, which concludes at the end of the AIPLA Annual Meeting next week. “I thought I had a good idea of what my year would be like, but it went beyond what even I expected. There is a lot to be said for what AIPLA does in terms of advocacy, education, member services and global outreach – it is a wonderful organization.”

A patent reform conversation with Senator Coons and Congressman Massie

Yesterday I moderated a Google Hangout on the topic of patent reform, which was sponsored by the Innovation Alliance’s save the inventor campaign. Joining me for the conversation was United States Senator Chris Coons (D-DE), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and the driving force behind the STRONG Patents Act, and Congressman Thomas Massie, an inventor and patent owner who is a member of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee. Our wide ranging conversation addressed whether patents promote or inhibit innovation, the most problematic provisions in the pending patent reform bills, whether patent reform is even necessary, and the inevitable reality that a push for patent reform will remain on the agenda for the foreseeable future.

It makes no sense for an algorithm to be unpatentable simply because it is implemented in software

KAPPOS: “Back when I was an engineer we saw it in mainframe computers where you’d make an invention and frequently initially the software wasn’t fast enough to be able to run the algorithm. So the algorithm would first be built in silicon, really expensive, but you’d wind up then fabbing up chips to be special purpose chips to run the algorithm. And then later as the software got faster the underlying computer systems got faster you’d reimplement the same algorithm in software, same algorithm, same invention but just reimplement it in software and then even later after that when the ASIC density got good enough you’d reimplement yet again in an application-specific integrated circuit, an ASIC. And so you’d have a little bit of a hybrid, if you will, but more on the hardware side, it’s an IC. It’s again putting the algorithm in a chip. And so what you’d see by looking at that is that it made no sense to say that an algorithm was patentable if it was implemented in a hardware chip. But the same algorithm implemented in software was unpatentable. Just didn’t make sense to say that.”

The Case for Software Patentability, An Interview with David Kappos

KAPPOS: ”Companies like Microsoft and Apple and GE — all of whom are members [of the Partnership for American Innovation] along with IBM, Ford, DuPont and Pfizer as well as smaller companies like Many Worlds and Second Sight — all of them are engaged in the hard work of making major, I’ll call it bone-grinding innovations. Second Sight is literally coming up with electro mechanical and implantable human interfacing medical technology that enables blind people to see. And like you said, Gene, serious software development involving lots of super smart people and putting in tremendous amount of time with a lot of specialized expertise, devising solutions to very important problems. You know, enabling blind people to see — it’s hard to imagine a more tangible, practical and important problem than that.”

Up close and personal with Drew Hirshfeld, Commissioner for Patents

This is the final segment of my interview with Drew Hirshfeld, Commissioner for Patents at the United States Patent and Trademark Office. In this segment we get to know Hirshfeld personally, as a father and New York Knicks basketball fan.

An Exclusive Interview with Drew Hirshfeld, the new Commissioner for Patents at the USPTO

HIRSHFELD: “[Y]ou caught my attention with quality means we issue a few patents. So let me address that first. We’ve always focused on quality as far as I’ve been here. What we have been asked to do in recent years is ask how can we take a more “out of the box” approach to quality, right? Is there anything that we could be doing with the goal of continuous improvement? And so to me that’s an absolutely wonderful position to be in for anybody asking how can you do your job better. And so I don’t look at quality as saying we want to issue more patents or less patents, we want to do a better job, a good job in the process as we’re moving forward. Things like clarity of the record. That does not mean we’re going to issue more or less, it means that we’re going to take extra steps to make sure we’re on the same page as the applicant. Or make sure we’re creating a good record so that a third party down the road can evaluate the application history, the prosecution history and tell exactly what took place. Certainly there is not a sentiment to try to reject more or less. Our goal is to do what the courts are asking us to do but we want to make sure that we’re thinking about all the ways we can do that in the most effective, efficient and clear way.”

Ariosa v. Sequenom: Petitioning the Federal Circuit to Reverse Course on Patent Eligibility

This is a really important question both with respect to biologics and other interventions and also as the Federal Circuit does work with the Supreme Court’s body of precedents. We have basically two principle points. One is that in our view the Federal Circuit has to do a better job rationalizing and reconciling two different sets of precedent. One is the set of modern cases and the second is an older case that the modern cases embrace, Diamond vs. Diehr, which as we understand it adopts exactly the opposite rule from the Federal Circuit in this case, which is that the combination is what has to be new not the individual processes. And then second we believe that we have a case that fits squarely within what the Supreme Court intended to remain patent eligible after those more modern cases. So we filed an en banc petition and we thought that there would be amicus support for sure. But what we didn’t expect, to be honest, was the outpouring of interest and support that we received.

Is the patent system self correcting, or are we going too far?

Everybody has to be careful because you’re right if we undermine our patent system that is the only thing that allows America to remain strong competitively because China they just have labor rates that are a fraction of ours. We couldn’t possibly make products as cheaply as China. We need to make sure that Congress isn’t hearing so much about how bad the patent system is that they without intention undermine it in significant part and then hurt our competitive advantage against China. I mean that’s all possible. I agree. I share that concern. Are we going too far?

Behind the Scenes on Octane Fitness and Fee-Shifting

I think there was certainly a level of abuse prior to patent trolls from larger companies that weren’t scrupulous trying to sue smaller companies and using the high cost of patent litigation to get things they weren’t entitled to. The only difference was these smaller companies that were being abused didn’t have any lobbying efforts before Congress. So when the whole patent troll issue came to a fever pitch the biggest companies in America were being held hostage to it. Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, LinkedIn, all of the most notorious companies that are just great technologies were being sued by smaller entities. And how do these smaller entities get economic leverage over these big companies? They did it because they could file 40 lawsuits at a time so the incremental cost beyond case number one didn’t cost anything. And they would just hold out for these nuisance value settlements and that’s why even the largest companies in America were being held hostage. How Octane changed that is now that you have a realistic chance of getting attorneys’ fees, now you have that chance now the bigger companies can stand up to a troll.