Sunday, November 09, 2008

IP-Watch on Obama IP insiders

IP-Watch noted:

IP and technology experts such as Duke University law professor Arti Rai, former Federal Communications Chairman Reed Hundt, and MIT computer scientist Daniel Weitzner have been part of Obama’s inner campaign circle, according to sources.

Other names that have been associated with discussions of IP, technology and privacy during the campaign include: former American Intellectual Property Law Association President Jim Pooley, who has been working with the Obama campaign; Chris Sprigman, associate IP law professor at University of Virginia Law School; Beth Noveck, New York Law School professor and creator of the Peer-to-Patent pilot being operated by the school; Thomas Kalil, special assistant to the chancellor for science and technology at the University of California at Berkeley; Andrew McLaughlin, Head of Global Public Policy and Government Affairs for Google; and Peter Swire, a part-time senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and former Clinton Administration chief counselor for privacy, an Obama privacy and security advisor, according to sources.

Patent Docs wrote:

Harold Wegner, a partner at Foley & Lardner LLP and professor at George Washington University Law School, noted in a Wednesday newsletter to his e-mail subscribers that "[s]everal Foley members, particularly in Washington, D.C., and Chicago, have been actively involved with the Obama campaign." In particular, Prof. Wegner mentioned that Chicago-based Foley partner Sharon Barner (at left) has been both "actively involved" in the Senator Obama's campaign and, in addition, has "the longest association with President-elect Obama of any of the Foley team members involved in the Obama campaign." For those in the patent community who have been worried that the President-elect might be getting his patent advice solely from law school professors, Prof. Wegner's disclosure should come as a welcome relief.


Representing Senator Obama's campaign were Professor Arti Rai, from the Duke University School of Law (and a former classmate of Senator Obama's at Harvard Law School), and Associate Professor Christopher Sprigman, from the University of Virginia School of Law.

[IPBiz notes Sprigman is a former classmate of USPTO Director Dudas at UofC Law School.]

The 271blog wrote of Hundt-->

Here is what Hundt had to say in an op-ed piece in Forbes magazine on Janury 30, 2006:

America's patent system is a mess . . . The U.S. ought to chuck this 18th-century relic and start all over again. Here's what the ideal system would look like.

First, we should slash the number of patents granted each year by 90%. In 2004 the U.S. Patent &Trademark Office issued 165,000 patents. Sixteen thousand is more like an optimal number. This should be easy to accomplish because most technology should not be patentable.

Third, we should introduce an element of privatization into this public system. Firms ought to be able to pay for fast-track patent approval and for the ability to challenge a patent after it's been issued. Currently it can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to file and prosecute a patent application. For a set dollar amount--say, $500,000--a firm ought to be able to buy a guarantee that its patent application will be reviewed and accepted or rejected within one year. The average application now takes 29 months to be processed.

***Hundt's views were discussed in a 2006 post on IPBiz:

which noted:

Ex-FCC-chairman Reed Hundt, for example, proposes reducing the number of patents by 90 percent and handing over a lot more money to those overworked patent examiners.

**As with gold-plating, these are old ideas.

**UPDATE. A comment on 16 Nov 08-->

Of Obama's future IP appointments, I believe Obama's appointment of Rahm Emanuel informs the direction. Artie Rai is a law school classmate of Obama's and co-represented Obama's IP position in the Colorado discussion (along with Chris Sprigman). Hundt's IP positions have been discussed on IPBiz:

Of Lemley's knowledge base, apart from factual errors on Robert Clarke and the inventors of the transistor, Lemley thought Gary Boone invented the integrated circuit (published so in the Stanford Law Review) and completely mangled the story of the telephone invention. How valid are opinions on intellectual property which are based on demonstrably wrong facts?


The basic quid pro quo of the patent system is public disclosure of information for limited right of exclusion. Going back to the Venetians, one sees that there was some desire in this to protect little guys from predatory bigger guys:

**We have among us men of great genius, apt to invent and discover ingenious devices... if provision were made for the works and devices discovered by such persons, so that others who may see them could not build them and take the inventor's honor away, more men would then apply their genius, would discover, and would build devices of great utility and benefit to our Commonwealth. Venetian Republic Patent Statute (1474), reprinted in PRINCIPLES OF PATENT LAW 10-11 (Donald S. Chisum et al. eds., 2d ed. 2001).**

If the transaction cost were placed beyond the reach of the little guy (say $50,000 in 2008), one can infer that little guys could not participate and the system would not achieve its objective of getting all useful, valuable information into the public domain.


Of the earlier cite to IPBiz, the link mentioned statements on Rai, Hundt, and Weitzner and on Barner, and separately referred to a discussion on IPBiz of Hundt's views that appeared on IPBiz in February 2006, before the 271Blog link. Separately, Hundt is a 1974 Yale Law grad (thus, roughly Clinton vintage) and was a partner in the Washington office of Latham & Watkins, but does not seem to have the experience of a registered patent attorney.

On the depth of Obama speechwriters


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