Now, however, life science imitators worldwide and their lawyers are gearing up to exploit the provisions in the pending patent reform bill in Congress. For years, makers of generic medicines have been working to weaken the protection of patents worldwide. For instance, Indian producers of generic medicines have advocated provisions in trade agreements that would allow developing countries to break U.S. patents. Now, the Indian generics industry is preparing to take advantage of the proposed patent reform to attack American life science innovators on their own soil. As the general secretary of the Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance recently put it: "Seeking invalidation of patent is likely to be a part of the patent strategy that Indian generics companies may follow in the U.S."
It is important to remember that such a systematic attack on U.S. patents will not only hurt innovative companies in the United States. There will be a global fall-out given the large amount of foreign innovators that rely on the U.S. patent system to protect their intellectual property. Indeed, the patent system is a key pillar of American "soft power," earning goodwill for the United States among the best and the brightest minds around the world while frustrating imitators and their lawyers.
It is probably no coincidence that the top 15 foreign recipients of U.S. patents per capita constitute a virtual who's who of the most important U.S. allies around the world: Besides Taiwan, Japan and Israel, the list includes Australia, Canada, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Singapore, South Korea and the United Kingdom. Only Hong Kong and traditionally neutral Finland, Sweden and Switzerland do not have a military alliance with the United States.