News and Commentary
Writing for the Niskanen Center’s main website, I discuss why the month of September has been so fantastic for drug pricing reform. After the Biden Administration’s focus on patent reform in its executive order promoting competition in the U.S. Economy, the FDA and Department of Health and Human Services sent letters and published memos discussing how patent policy can me improved to lower drug prices. Included in this effort was a letter by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Thom Tillis (R-NC) to the USPTO discussing the need to improve patent quality.
Score one for shareholder democracy! In Techdirt, Karl Bode talks about the efforts by U.S. Public Interest Research Group and the socially conscious mutual fund Green Century Funds to work with investors to get companies like Apple and John Deere to loosen their restrictions on third-party repair. Just this week, Microsoft committed to studying the environmental and practical impacts of a policy which allows more liberal access to third-party repair by consumers.
Also in Techdirt, Glyn Moody writes about the creation of a new collective management organization (CMO) in France designed to negotiate with large tech companies (namely Google) on the implementation of the “link tax” which was part of the EU’s Copyright Directive.
Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and John Cornyn (R-TX) have introduced the “Restoring the America Invents Act”, a bill to clarify some provisions of the 10-year old law which have either needed updating or were misused by the USPTO as a means of preventing the invalidation of bad patents. The bill includes provisions to seriously curtail so-called “discretionary denials”–where the USPTO Director can decline to institute an inter partes review for reasons independent of the merits of the petition; provisions which promote stays of litigation in district court when a patent at issue is disputed during inter partes review; fixing the process for review of final decisions by the USPTO Director in response to Arthrex; and allowing the government to be a party which can petition for inter partes review, among other clarifications to the AIA. You can read commentary on the bill by Dennis Crouch at PatentlyO here.
Writing for the Center for Economic Policy Research, the always-excellent Dean Baker has a discussion about the role intellectual property plays in debts and deficits. His point is straightforward and irrefutable: whether or not you think patents and copyright are the best way to “promote the Progress of Science and the useful Arts,” they create legal monopolies which have the potential to abuse such power. When they abuse that power while selling things the government directly (or indirectly) pays for, it drives up deficits and the national debt. Regulatory policy is fiscal policy.
In VoxEU, Michael Stolpe has a post about the potential for patent buyouts as a way to make COVID-related IP available to the world more quickly. Considering the extraordinary value of vaccines to both consumers and society at large, it’s essential to move away from the monopoly model–and its resultant deadweight loss–created by the patent system and for COVAX to create an auction system to purchase the intellectual property rights to the vaccines.