No-Part Harmony

  • by: |
  • 09/28/2007
The Patent Reform Act of 2007 (S. 1145) seeks to “harmonize” the American patent system with those of other nations. But, as Kevin Kearns of the U.S. Business and Industry Council has written, “do we really need to be "harmonized" with a calcified European system or the impossibly unfair Japanese system, not to mention the Chinese system, where intellectual property theft is a way of life?”

Bottom line is that the pending legislation would make it harder for patent holders to enforce their rights or win just compensation from those who infringe their rights. It would be harder to prove "willful" infringement, which entails punitive damages. The bill also includes a mandatory apportionment test that would lessen the value assigned to patents in most products.

Not only would the bill reduce the value of patents, but it would facilitate patent theft.

Under our current system, inventors can "opt-out" of having their application published by filing "only" in the United States and not in another country where it can be ripped off. The current bill would eliminate the opt-out provision.

Think “health care innovation.” Then think “India.”

According to the Center for the Study of Drug Development at Tufts University, only 1 in every 5,000 compounds screened becomes an approved medicine. This means of every 5,000-10,000 compounds tested, only 250 enter pre-clinical testing, five into clinical testing and only one achieves FDA approval. Without robust intellectual property protection, no company, even ones with the most benevolent motivations, would find it feasible to develop new, innovative, lifesaving and life enhancing-products for consumers.

There are precious few “Eureka!” occasions in healthcare. Progress is made step-by-step, one incremental innovation at a time. And those incremental innovations require extensive research and are expensive. But, that’s how health care progress is made – not through Hollywood-style “Aha!” moments so popular with politicians and pundits.

Does our patent system need reform? That’s a question for patent experts. Should we facilitate a patent system that disincentivizes pharmaceutical innovation? That’s a no-brainer.

Center for Medicine in the Public Interest is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization promoting innovative solutions that advance medical progress, reduce health disparities, extend life and make health care more affordable, preventive and patient-centered. CMPI also provides the public, policymakers and the media a reliable source of independent scientific analysis on issues ranging from personalized medicine, food and drug safety, health care reform and comparative effectiveness.

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