Monday, January 15, 2007

Duke study leads to push for increase in allotment of H-1B visas

The Philadelphia Inquirer on Jan. 15 had a story on the Duke University study which had noted foreign-born inventors living in the United States without citizenship accounted for 24% of patent filings last year (and which was mentioned on IPBiz on Jan. 4).

The story, which originated at the Washington Post, observed:

Technology-industry lobbyists have already cited the study in a push to persuade Congress to increase the annual allotment of H-1B visas, which allow U.S. companies to sponsor temporary workers in specialty occupations, such as computer programming and systems analysis. The companies say they cannot find enough Americans to fill jobs; other proponents contend that globalization requires U.S. companies to import talented workers.

"This research shows that immigrants have become a significant driving force in the creation of new businesses and intellectual property in the U.S. - and that their contributions have increased over the past decade," wrote the study's author, Vivek Wadhwa, a former technology executive who immigrated from India with his family as a young man.

As one additional datapoint, note the following board post (which generally is directed to the recent layoffs of patent attorneys by Kenyon & Kenyon but which gives one a datapoint relevant to the Duke study):

according to the PTO web site, over the last three years 3157 U.S. patents issued with Kenyon listed as legal representative. Of those, only 240 had U.S. assignees, and only 50 had U.S. assignees and U.S. inventors. (These numbers seem very skewed, so maybe I missed something and others here might want to run the numbers themselves.) 1560 were to the Germans, with fully 1222 to just one company, Bosch, which suggests that the legacy lives on.

Of the layoffs, a different post noted:

The previous state of affairs, with too many attorneys chasing too little work, was not sustainable. Nothing is worse for a firm's morale than to have a bunch of underutilized people sitting around and twiddling their thumbs. By turning the excess into fertilizer, Kenyon nourishes the careers of those whom it regards as important for its long term prospects while ridding itself of those who are not. That's tough on those who had to go, but from time to time you simply have to prune a tree if you want it to enjoy its shade in the years to come.


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