Sunday, August 19, 2007

Patent reform 2007 indicted by looking at supporters in India

An op-ed by Sidney Taurel in the Indianapolis Star arguing against "patent reform 2007" includes the following:

Hundreds of other innovation-based businesses, along with individual inventors and entrepreneurs, universities and labor groups share Lilly's opposition to the bill. But the most powerful evidence against the proposed changes comes from those who hope the bill will become law.

The Economic Times of India excitedly reported last month that "a crucial bill making its way through the U.S. Congress is set to give a new inexpensive option for Indian drug makers to attack the patents that give monopoly rights to top-selling brands in the largest pharmaceutical markets. . . . It allows one to challenge a patent anytime during its life at a fraction of the cost of litigation."

Translation: Some foreign interests see this bill as Americans about to give away the store.

U.S. companies that support the bill -- including Dell, Microsoft, Palm and other information technology businesses -- have a different perspective as aggregators and assemblers of innovation. They typically do not rise or fall on individual discoveries and are angered that courts have on a few occasions forced them to pay hefty penalties for infringing patents on components of the much more complex products they sell.

IPBiz notes that the proposed opposition/cancellation proceeding is wrong not simply because some pharma interests in India may like it. The "opposition proceeding" is wrong because, if patent examination is not being done right, the proper remedy is to fix the patent examination process, not to add a burdensome inspection step called patent opposition. We already have one process called re-examination which allows prior art which may have been missed to be brought to the attention of the USPTO.


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