IP Market Updates
October 27, 2016
With the US presidential elections fast approaching (we can’t wait for them to be over!) and with what looks increasingly more like a Clinton administration, those who care about innovation and how the law protects inventors are wondering what the next four years will look like when it comes to IP policy. Is it the worst kept secret on the Hill that the Obama administration has been heavily influenced by the relentless lobbying efforts of Google and other large technology companies who have succeeded in painting a picture where patent owners are mostly bad (Exhibit A: trolls) and therefore patent rights must be curtailed in order to put a dent into abusive patent litigation that costs real innovative companies (i.e. themselves) millions in defending themselves against multiple meritless lawsuits. The net of those concerted effort is that the Obama administration has been very vocal in taking a pro-defendant stance, Congress has followed the same cues in a rare bipartisan display, and the anti-troll narrative has gradually permeated our courts all the way to the US Supreme Court. This, in turn, has created a watering down of patent owners’ rights, a cloud of uncertainty as to whether any patent can still be deemed valid -as the law states- and, not surprisingly, a significant devaluation of patents as an asset class.
While a few recent decisions from various courts may point to a slight shifting back of the pendulum, if you are an inventor most of the damage has already been done and it may take a while to go back to some state of equilibrium between protecting innovators and curbing unnecessary litigation.
Initial reports suggest that a Clinton administration would be a lot less beholden to the Silicon Valley lobby than the current one. As everyone should know by now, Clinton is more closely aligned with Wall Street (which is generally supportive of IP rights) and has a natural inclination to support job creation by small and medium size enterprises, the group that has been most severely impacted by the recent turmoil in the IP market. Clinton’s campaign manager (John Podesta) has already conducted several meetings with well-respected and influential individuals in the IP community, including two past USPTO directors who now advise him and who generally have a candid and balanced and more pragmatic view of the situation. This is encouraging, as the debate has so far been oversimplified by making everyone look like a patent troll, and then pass legislation or regulation that chip away at patent rights rather than trying to curb bad behavior. Let’s hope that new blood in DC will help press the reset button and reestablish some trust with innovators that it is still worth for them to think big and that the legal system will still be there to protect them when they succeed and contribute to the economy.
More recent news about the IP marketplace below.
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