News and Commentary
This month’s “stupid patent” from EFF has serious consequences if it means taking money from firms producing life-sving medical equipment. Swirlate IP is suing ResMed, a ventilator manufacturer, and four other companies for allegedly infringing on two patents. The patents are related to data transmission, something that virtually any machine with internet connectivity can do.
Abby Rives of Engine writes about the risk posed by increase patent litigation. There’s never a good time for a lawsuit that is not essential for preserving the returns necessary to bring about innovation, but Rives found a 20% in patent assertion in the first four months of 2020 compared to 2019.
In Slate, Elliot Harmon of the Electronic Frontier Foundation goes through the risks posed by exclusivity granted to pharmaceutical companies during the pandemic–such as Gilead’s successful attempt to receive orphan drug designation–and how government should pursue policies to expand open access to information.
The Second Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court’s dismissal of a copyright infringement case against comedian Jerry Seinfeld for his failure to pay one the producer of the pilot episode of “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.” Christian Charles sued alleging that he was entitled to royalties as the coauthor, but the lower court ruled (and the Court of Appeals affirmed) that the claim was time-barred. Civil actions for copyright must be filed within three years “after the claim accrued,” but Charles sued six years after the airing of the pilot.
In JD Supra, Carmen Robinson and Carolyn Toto discuss the ways intellectual property is being shared during the COVID-19 pandemic and how existing institutions–like software “copyleft” rules and existing patent pools– and new institutions like the open COVID pledge can facilitate the spread of information.
Charles Duan of the R Street Institute has written a paper about the history of state governments and the use of copyright to protect supplements to legislative text. He notes that “the law” is not at all limited to statutory text, and restricting access to such supplementary materials via copyright would give far too much power to government officials and the deep-pocketed legal profession.
Bronwyn Hall discusses the history and policy implications of patents, innovation, and technology transfers around the world. They find that in the case of low- and middle-income countries, having a patent system is not important for economic development, and that the benefits of an international patent system have been significantly overstated relative to the costs.
This paper goes through the theoretical dynamics of crowdfunding, positing that fixed (where money is returned if a goal is not met) rather than flexible funding is superior and that crowdfunding is an attractive option for large and small entrepreneurs.
The federal government has always had a significant role in the funding of research and development in the United States. This paper examines how intramural innovation performed by the U.S. government is more general and original, but less-cited than patents awarded to private sector firms, confirming the comparative advantage between government and the private sector in dealing with research vs development. It also found that as government research in mathematics, social science, and data analytics expands, it will become harder to use patenting as a metric for innovation by the government.
A new paper finds that in the case of vaccines and treatments for emerging infections diseases, the ROI–even under a strong patent system–for firms is negative, making it essential that government pick up the slack and finance the development of these drugs.