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Archive for August, 2009


An interesting article in Reason discusses what effect nationalizing our health care system will have on medical innovation.  Specifically, it states that if the U.S. nationalizes its health care medical innovation will stop.  Freezing our medical technology will effect the health care of people throughout the world.

 

Are you a defense contractor who has created software with commercial applications, but is part of a deliverable for a DOD contract?  How do you retain rights in a software delivered as part of a defense contract?  This post will focus on how to make sure that you retain the rights to any software that is a deliverable in a defense contract.  The Defense Federal Acquisition Regulations or DFARs define the government’s rights in noncommercial software.  Specifically DFAR 252.227-7014 defines three levels of rights the government obtains in noncommercial software; 1) unlimited rights, 2) government purpose rights, and 3) restricted rights.  The government’s rights in the software are most limited under the “restricted rights” section.  According to DFAR 252.227-7014(b)(3)(i) the government has restricted rights in noncommercial software required to be delivered or otherwise provided to the government under the contract that was “developed exclusively at private expense.”  Developed exclusively at private expense is defined in DFAR 252.227-7014(7) as:

 

Gary Locke, the U.S. Commerce Secretary, in an article in Journal Sentinel stated that the time it takes to issue patents is unacceptable.  The article also points out the problem of patent office policy forcing examiners to reject applications at unprecedented rate.  Secretary Locke also acknowledged that these problems have hurt the American economy.  This is great news for inventors.

The only potentially bad news in the article is the statement that the patent office faces severe financial problems.  This may mean higher fees in the future.  Please read the full article at http://www.jsonline.com/business/54199852.html

 
Innovation – Wake-Up Call

There are number of indications that the U.S. is losing its technological edge.  In the second quarter of 2008, there were no public offerings of Silicon Valley venture capital-backed companies, a phenomenon not seen since 1978.  U.S. venture capital firms are investing more of their funds overseas.  Many U.S. trained, foreign national, scientists and engineers are leaving the U.S. and returning to their home countries.  In 2001 (the most recent year for which data are available), US industry spent more on tort litigation than on research.[1]

 
Patent Quality Myth

A number of papers have suggested that the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) quality in issuing patents is substandard.[1] These papers suggest that the USPTO’s allowance rate is significantly higher than the allowance rate in Europe and Japan.  From this they infer that the quality of patent examination, in the U.S. are not as thorough as those in Europe and Japan.

 

President Obama has proposed changing the length of time patents covering pharmaceuticals are enforceable.  His proposal is to change the patent term from 20 years to 7 years.  According to Medical News Today, it takes 8 years on average for a new drug to receive FDA approval.  Thus, the President’s proposal is to essentially eliminate patent protection for drugs.  If this proposal is implemented, the net result will be to kill innovation in the pharmaceutical industry.   This will increase the long term cost of medical care.  Medicines are inexpensive medical treatment compared to surgical techniques, the main alternative. 

 

In order to obtain a patent your invention has to be useful (35 USC 101), novel (35 USC 102), and non-obvious (35 USC 103).  The goal of this post is to explain the non-obviousness requirement in terms that are clear to engineers and scientists.

 

            The U.S. has been the most innovative country in the history of world.  “Virtually every major development in technology in the twentieth century – which was far and away the most important century in the history of technology – originated in the United States or was principally industrialized and turned into consumer products here.”[1]  The economic success of the U.S. is due to its technological innovation.  The first colony was only possible because of two new technologies – the full-rigged sailing ship and the joint-stock company.  This inventive spirit has continued to the present with the Information Age, which was founded in the U.S. and based on the internet (ARPANET) invented in 1969. 

 

Judge Newman, who I believe is one of the most brilliant jurists alive, discusses the reasons for the creation Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit – click here.  The severe recession of the late 1970s motivated the Carter administration to reexamine the U.S.’s industrial policies.  Some of the findings included that regulation, tax policy, antitrust law and patent law were all conspiring in the 1970s to depress innovation and the economy.  There are eerie parallels to the most recent decade – see Innovation – Regulatory Road Kill?

 

In order to obtain a patent your invention has to be useful (35 USC 101), novel (35 USC 102), and non-obvious (35 USC 103).  The goal of this post is to explain the novelty requirement in terms that are clear to engineers and scientists.

 

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