Posts Tagged: "Biden administration"

Stop Tripping Over TRIPS

The petition by South Africa and India at the World Trade Organization (WTO) to waive most of the protections in the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement was all but dead. It failed in October, December, January, March, and May. Then, after the Biden Administration expressed in the most neutral terms is was “considering” and “discussing” the proposal, U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai yesterday announced U.S. support for text-based negotiations that “will take some time.” IP rights are not the barrier to rapid production of vaccines advocates think they are, the waiver would cause more harm than possible good. The WTO would do much better to discuss removing obstacles to the trade of COVID-19 related items than removing intellectual property rights. There are 191 trade restriction measures on COVID-19 related supplies.  

Tai Says United States Will Back India-South Africa Proposal to Waive IP Rights Under TRIPS

Bloomberg first reported today that U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai said that the United States will back a proposal by India and South Africa last year to waive intellectual property protections under the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement. The proposal calls for the suspension of international protections for patents, copyrights, industrial designs, trade secrets and proprietary materials, “in relation to the prevention, containment, or treatment of COVID-19 until widespread vaccination is in place globally and the majority of the world’s population has developed immunity.” Tai reportedly said “We are for the waiver at the WTO, we are for what the proponents of the waiver are trying to accomplish, which is better access, more manufacturing capability, more shots in arms.”

Biden Announces Intent to Nominate Tiffany Cunningham to Federal Circuit

President Joe Biden today announced 11 judicial candidates – 10 for federal circuit and district court judge positions, including Tiffany Cunningham as nominee for the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC). Cunningham would replace Judge Evan J. Wallach, who announced earlier this month that he will retire from active service and assume senior status as of May 31, 2021, after 10 years of service with the court. 

The New Madison Approach and the Harmonization of Antitrust and Patent Law: A Retrospective Summary

In a major 2018 speech, Justice Department Assistant Attorney General for Antitrust Makan Delrahim enunciated a “New Madison Approach” (NMA) (a tribute to James Madison’s support for a strong patent system) designed to restore greater respect for efficiency-seeking patent transactions in antitrust enforcement (a 2020 law journal commentary discusses the NMA and the reactions it has elicited, both positive and negative). Consistent with the NMA, the Trump Administration Antitrust Division took a number of initiatives aimed at reducing perceived new antitrust risks associated with widely employed patent licensing practices (particularly those touching on standardization). Those new risks stemmed from Obama Administration pronouncements that seemed to denigrate patent rights, in the eyes of patent system proponents (see here, for example). Given this history, the fate (at least in the short term) of the NMA appears at best uncertain, as the new Biden Administration reevaluates the merits of specific Trump policies. Thus, a review of the NMA and the specific U.S. policy changes it engendered is especially timely. Those changes, seen broadly, began a process that accorded greater freedom to patent holders to obtain appropriate returns to their innovations through efficient licensing practices – practices that tend to promote the dissemination of new and improved technologies throughout the economy and concomitant economic welfare enhancement.   

The Biden Administration is at an Innovation Crossroad

The new Presidential Administration has hardly settled in before being confronted with a stark choice: will they continue policies that foster public/private sector R&D partnerships or be diverted down a path that’s been a dead-end? President Biden faces two herculean tasks: getting the COVID-19 pandemic under control while reviving the economy. The problems are intertwined and require continuous innovation to overcome, which means tapping the best minds in our public and private sectors. We’ve just witnessed a modern miracle, as such partnerships seamlessly came together to create effective COVID-19 vaccines and therapies in record time. But the policies these collaborations depend on are now being questioned.

Should the Biden Administration Look to Pharma for New USPTO Director?

The United States is not even two weeks into the administration of President Joe Biden and it’s likely that the administration’s selection for Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will not become clear for a few months yet. Many members of the U.S. innovation community, however, are well aware of the high stakes in play with that selection. The tenure of outgoing Director Andrei Iancu was lauded across many sectors of the U.S. patent system, perhaps with the exception of the tech sector. As we consider candidates for the next USPTO head, perhaps we should look to the political moment in which we find ourselves to guide our search.  

The Day One Project Examined: USPTO Transition Proposals Advocate Questionable PTAB, Section 101 Policies

Recently, the Day One Project, an initiative of the Federation of American Scientists, released a transition document drafted by a collection of veteran policymakers discussing a range of policy ideas to be implemented at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) starting from the earliest days of the Biden Administration. The ideas advocated by the Day One Project focus on a mix of policies related to diversity, international IP systems, patent quality, agency budgeting and governance and ways that the USPTO can contribute to broader administrative policy initiatives. While there are many sound policy positions advocated by the Day One Project, patent owners may want to be aware of the document’s stance on the “public benefit of PTAB review of a patent” as well as the agency’s role in developing policy on patentable subject matter reform. Interestingly, the policy document indicates that there is broad consensus for continuing policies from the Trump Administration relating to China’s influence on the world of intellectual property.

The Right Choice: IP Stakeholders Emphasize Practical Experience, Strong IP Advocacy in Next USPTO Head

The position of Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), as well as Deputy, is now vacant. Commissioner for Patents Drew Hirshfeld has been vested with the authority to act with the powers of the Under Secretary of Commerce for IP and Director of the USPTO, although he has not been given the title Acting Director. This is almost certainly due to the fact that no one in the federal government can hold a title of Acting head of an agency for more than 270 days. In our space, the position of Under Secretary and Director of the USPTO is a front-line, top-level position. In the greater political scheme, it is likely we will not have an appointee for many months. President Obama did not nominate David Kappos until June 18 and President Trump did not nominate Andrei Iancu until August 26. There are many capable people—all realistic, based on party affiliation—who should be considered by the Biden Administration for nomination as Under Secretary of Commerce for IP, but in my opinion several names stand out above everyone else based on their background, ties with the tech sector, and what appears to be a preference on the part of President Biden (at least so far) to appoint those with close ties to the Obama Administration and longstanding ties to the Democratic party.

Biden’s Opportunity to Protect American Innovation

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.

Washington Insiders Say Farewell to 2020 and Look Ahead to 2021

As we thankfully see 2020 fading into the rear-view mirror and all look forward to a hopefully much better 2021, we want to take a moment to reflect on what the past year brought us and how the stage is set for another very fluid and consequential year for intellectual property policy. In times like these, it is clear that leadership matters more than ever. During some of the most challenging times our country has faced, there were a number of places where we saw strong leadership result in tangible progress. This year has already shown us a dramatic first few days. Beyond the tragic events in the U.S. Capitol, we saw the somewhat unexpected shift of power in the Senate to Democratic control based on the election of both Rev. Raphael Warnock and John Ossoff in Georgia. It is clear that the new Congress and the new Biden Administration will face huge challenges before we approach anything close to “normal” in any sense. That said, when it comes to IP, what can we expect?

Innovation Alliance Urges Biden Administration to Support Patent Rights

On January 11, Brian Pomper, Executive Director of the Innovation Alliance, sent a letter to President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris urging support for strong patent rights and outlining Innovation Alliance’s recommendations with respect to the U.S. patent system and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The letter emphasized the importance of a strong patent system that incentivizes technological advancement in order to effectively compete with China and explained that the current system is in distress and strong leadership is needed.  

Biden’s Innovation and Inclusion Initiatives Will Depend Heavily on IP Rights to Succeed

What intellectual property (IP) rights achieve, and for whom, is a mystery to most people, including heads of state. President-elect Biden’s ambitious plan to support all of America’s workers through R&D investment, inclusion and by combatting IP theft from China, ‘Made in All of America,’ is well-timed. But it is unlikely to have the desired impact without the backing of reliable IP rights. Biden’s initiatives will require capital and non-contentious licensing to succeed. Good intentions aside, without support from a fully functioning IP system, do not expect America’s workers to be in a position to cash in on research and startups or to challenge China’s stated goal to dominate in areas of innovation and technology by 2025.