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Posts Tagged ‘Intellectual Property’
January 23rd, 2023 at 9:58 am
Potential Appointment of Rep. Darrell Issa to IP Subcommittee Leadership Raises Concern
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Generally speaking and on a wide array of pressing issues, Congressman Darrell Issa (R – California) has proven a reliable leader who maintains solid support among conservatives and libertarians.

The prospect of Rep. Issa leading the House Judiciary Committee’s Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet Subcommittee, however, has sparked significant opposition and pushback from intellectual property (IP) proponents.  And for sound reasons.

For example, in urging new House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R – Ohio) not to select Rep. Issa for the role, IPWatchdog’s Paul Morinville lists a litany of concerns based upon Issa’s record:

Issa is the wrong person for the job and has demonstrated that since he joined Congress.  He has sponsored and cosponsored numerous bills that harm small entities for the benefit of Big Tech and Chinese Communist Party (CCP)-controlled multinational corporations.  He was one of the key drivers of the passage of the America Invents Act (AIA), which created the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), the entity that now invalidates 84% of the patents it fully adjudicates.  He has ignored other problems like eBay v. MercExchange, which highly restricted injunctive relief, and Alice V. CLS Bank, which unleashed a demon into the patent system called the ‘abstract idea.’  This trifecta of damage has radically reduced the funding of startups by devaluing the only asset capable of attracting investment: patents.

More broadly and equally troublingly, Rep. Issa conceptualizes IP and Congress’s role in protecting it in an agnostic and passive way, as reconfirmed recently by spokesman Jonathan Wilcox:

As long as there have been patents, there have been disputes about how to regulate them.  Congressman Issa believes from decades of experience the system has too many loopholes that allow litigation and lawsuit abuse to stifle innovation.  Every IP reform he has achieved is to make the system more fair to everyone.

The fact that Rep. Issa views his potential chairmanship as an opportunity to increase government regulation illustrates precisely why the prospect of him leading this important subcommittee has generated such considerable and unified pushback from the IP community.  Patents are a constitutional and natural right, not a platform for increasing government control.

Moreover, centuries of American experience and success tell a different story than he suggests.

Throughout our history, America’s system of strong IP protections has made us the most innovative, prosperous nation in human history, without any close competitor.  From Alexander Graham Bell to Thomas Edison to the Wright brothers, from the film industry to the music industry, from lifesaving pharmaceuticals to software, from the telephone to the television, no society parallels our astonishing record of innovation, influence and prosperity.

That occurred by design, not coincidence.

Namely, our Founding Fathers considered IP a natural right and specifically drafted the Constitution to protect IP in a robust manner.  Even before they drafted and ratified the Bill of Rights, they specifically included IP protection in the text of the Constitution.  Article I, Section 8 provides that, “Congress shall have Power … To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.”

That obviously creates an active, affirmative Congressional duty, not some sort of passive or optional authority as suggested by advocates of weaker IP laws.

The Founders recognized that, as with every other type of property, protection of IP recognized individuals’ inherent right to the fruits of their own labor while also incentivizing productive activity.  As James Madison, the Father of the Constitution, emphasized, “The public good fully coincides in both cases with the claims of individuals.”

Similarly, former patent attorney Abraham Lincoln observed that, “The patent system added the fuel of interest to the fire of genius in the discovery and production of new and useful things.”

And as the Supreme Court confirmed a century after that, “encouragement of individual effort by personal gain is the best way to advance public welfare through the talents of authors and inventors,” while “sacrificial days devoted to such creative activities deserve rewards commensurate with the services rendered.”

Accordingly, America’s strong historical protection of IP rights reflects both the importance of economic incentives – the utilitarian angle – as well as the recognition that free people possess a natural right to the fruits of their labor and investment.

Today, the total estimated value of American IP measures approximately $6.6 trillion, which standing alone exceeds the economies of every other nation in the world.  Our IP industries also account for 52% of all U.S. exports, and employ nearly 50 million workers whose average annual earnings exceed non-IP workers’ wages by nearly 30%.

Both at home and abroad, however, our unparalleled system of strong IP rights remains under deliberate assault.

Overseas, nations with weaker IP laws seek to pressure the U.S. to surrender IP protections, such as with our world-leading Covid vaccines and treatments.

And here in the U.S., skeptics and special interests who seek to weaken IP rights claim that the Constitution’s IP protections are utilitarian in nature, as opposed to natural rights.

The obvious flaw in that claim is that utilitarianism obtained more widespread popular currency decades after the Founding Fathers drafted the Declaration of Independence and Constitution.  They were steeped not in cold utilitarianism, but rather the natural rights theories of John Locke, who observed that, “a person rightly claims ownership in her works to the extent that her labor resulted in their existence.”

Even accepting for the sake of argument, however, that America’s IP protections arose from solely utilitarian rather than natural rights ideals among the Founders, the simple fact is that one cannot identify an alternative IP system in the world today, or throughout human history, that has resulted in greater utility than our own.

That’s why IP matters, and why we must maintain and strengthen America’s system of IP protection, not undermine it.

It’s therefore important that new House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan take this to heart in determining who will lead the critical House subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet.

January 12th, 2023 at 2:09 pm
Elizabeth Warren and Fellow Leftists Demand Government “March-In” on Critical Cancer Drug
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This week, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D – Massachusetts) and a group of fellow liberals submitted a letter to the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) demanding that the federal government employ so-called “march-in” rights under the Bayh-Dole Act of 1980 to disregard private patent rights on the critical cancer drug Xtandi.

Here’s why that’s a terrible and potentially deadly idea that the HHS, other lawmakers and the American public must oppose.

Simply put, disregarding patent protections for pharmaceutical innovators will bring innovation to a halt and deprive Americans of lifesaving drugs.  America currently produces two-thirds of all new drugs worldwide, and that’s because our nation honors and protects patent rights, it doesn’t violate them.

It’s especially outrageous that Senator Warren and her cohorts seek to leverage the Bayh-Dole Act of 1980 to facilitate their scheme.  The Bayh-Dole Act was passed in order to extend patent rights to universities and nonprofit research entities whose research was assisted by federal funds, not weaken them.  Prior to Bayh-Dole, very few innovations partially funded by federal dollars were ever commercially pursued – only 390 in the year prior to its passage.  Four decades later, however, that number approaches 7,500, with over 420,000 inventions and 13,000 new startup enterprises formed.

That explains why The Economist magazine labeled Bayh-Dole the most important bill of the past half-century:

Possibly the most inspired piece of legislation to be enacted in America over the past half-century was the Bayh-Dole Act of 1980.  Together with amendments in 1984 and augmentation in 1986, this unlocked all the inventions and discoveries that had been made in laboratories throughout the United States with taxpayers’ money.”

Alarmingly, however, this groups seeks to undermine patent rights for Xtandi by exploiting a “march-in” provision within Bayh-Dole to empower the federal government to commandeer new drugs and license the patents on inventions partially funded by federal dollars to third parties.   According to their flawed logic, the market prices of some drugs render them insufficiently available to the general public, and on that basis they encourage federal bureaucracies to forcibly license those drugs’ patent rights to other third parties for manufacture and sale.  That would constitute a frontal assault against private pharmaceutical innovators, disregarding their patent rights and the enormous investments they’ve made over years and decades to conceive, perfect, produce and distribute those drugs.  It would also contravene the statutory terms of Bayh-Dole itself.

Indeed, Senators Birch Bayh and Bob Dole themselves confirmed that the law bearing their names did not intend or allow cost to become a mechanism for imposition of de facto drug price controls:

Bayh-Dole did not intend that government set prices on resulting products.  The law makes no reference to a reasonable price that should be dictated by the government.  This omission was intentional;  the primary purpose of the act was to entice the private sector to seek public-private research collaboration rather than focusing on its own proprietary research.”

That’s precisely why the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has rejected every one of the “march-in” petitions that it has received during the Bayh-Dole Act’s existence.  It has consistently and correctly ruled that attempts to leverage price allegations to justify march-in would undermine the very goal of the act and ultimately harm American consumers.

People like Sen. Warren and her cohorts nevertheless claim that federal funding toward pharmaceutical research justify government march-in intrusion, falsely asserting that pharmaceutical innovators somehow enjoy a free ride at taxpayer expense.   That’s false.

Private funding for research and development actually dwarfs public funding.  According to the NIH itself, private sector R&D far exceeds NIH funding throughout recent years and decades.  In 2018, as another example, the NIH spent $3 billion on clinical trials involving new or existing drugs, compared to $102 billion in R&D by the U.S. biopharmaceutical industry.  Indeed, the pharmaceutical industry stands as the single largest source of business R&D funding in the U.S., accounting for 17.6% of all U.S. business R&D.  The next-closest counterpart is the software sector at 9.1%, with the automobile industry at 5.9% and the aerospace industry at 4.1%.

Senator Warren and her cosigners also allege that inflation somehow justifies their demand, but the fact is that drug prices significantly trail overall inflation.

Accordingly, the facts show that strong U.S. patent protections and the Bayh-Dole law promote pharmaceutical R&D investment, and there’s simply no legal or logical basis for advocating march-in regarding Xtandi.  Pharmaceutical innovation demands billions of dollars in sunk costs of investment, not to mention potential product liability lawsuits for any errors.  Strong patent protections, which Bayh-Dole codifies, help ensure that those costs and risks will be fairly and sufficiently rewarded.  They provide innovators and investors the incentives to create pharmaceuticals that save millions and even billions of lives worldwide.

The demand by Senators Warren and her cosigners would dangerously jeopardize that.

November 17th, 2022 at 11:48 am
Stat of the Day: Thanksgiving Costs Up a Record 20%, but Prescription Drug Prices Decline
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As we approach Thanksgiving, you may have heard (or personally experienced) that the cost of Thanksgiving dinner this year is up a record 20%.

Meanwhile, guess what’s actually declined in price, according to the federal government itself.  That would be prescription drug prices, which declined 0.1% last month alone.

Perhaps the Biden Administration should focus on helping everyday Americans afford Thanksgiving, rather than artificially imposing innovation-killing government price controls on lifesaving drugs, which are actually declining in price and nowhere near the inflation rate afflicting other consumer costs.

November 4th, 2022 at 11:12 am
USC Healthcare Fellow: Biden’s “Inflation Reduction Act” Already Killing Potential Pharmaceutical Cures
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We at CFIF often warn how attempts at “drug price controls” will only succeed in killing lifesaving drug innovation, in which the U.S. leads the world without a close second.

Joe Biden’s so-called “Inflation Reduction Act” constitutes a perfect illustration, and in a Wall Street Journal piece entitled “The Inflation Reduction Act Is Already Killing Potential Cures,” USC Schaeffer Center for Health Policy & Economics fellow Joe Grogan shows how “we’re already getting signs of the damage”:

One poorly crafted provision is driving companies away from research into treating rare diseases.  In its Oct. 27 earnings statement, Alnylam announced it is suspending development of a treatment for Stargardt disease, a rare eye disorder, because of the company’s need ‘to evaluate impact of the Inflation Reduction Act.’  Alnylam’s decision turns on a provision in the Democrats’ bill that exempts from price-setting negotiations drugs that treat only one rare disease.  The company’s drug is currently marketed as treating only amyloidosis, and thus is exempt from Medicare’s price setting.  If Alnylam proceeded with research into treating Stargardt, it would lose its exemption.”

And that’s not even the end of it.  Earlier this week, Eli Lilly announced termination of a blood cancer drug because, “In light of the Inflation Reduction Act, this program no longer met our threshold for continued investment.”

Mr. Grogan proceeds to offer a must-read primer on how and why this is happening, then concludes by admonishing the next Congress convening in January to abandon this instant disaster and promote innovation instead of cheap Biden Administration talking point schemes:

The Democrats may have achieved a short-term talking point for the midterm elections, but in the long term this partisan healthcare bill will prevent patients from receiving innovative, lifesaving treatments.  A new Congress would serve Americans well by replacing the Inflation Reduction Act with an approach that recognizes the need for economic incentives to bring new treatments to patients.”

Good advice.

October 28th, 2022 at 3:15 pm
Anti-Patent Group Seeks to Weaken U.S. Pharmaceutical Innovation and Intellectual Property Advantage
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When pondering the origins of American Exceptionalism, and what makes us the most innovative, prosperous nation in human history, look first to our tradition of protecting intellectual property (IP) – patent, copyright, trademark, and trade secret property rights.

After all, other nations match or even exceed the U.S. in free market rankings (24 nations in the latest annual Index of Economic Freedom, in fact).  No nation, however, can match us for sheer innovation.  America accounts for less than 5% of the world’s population, and even with the world’s largest economy we account for under 25% of the global economy.  In contrast, no nation can match our scientific innovation, from flight to space exploration to the internet.  Nor can any nation match our artistic leadership, from the film industry to television to music, or claim as many instantly recognizable trademarks, from Coca-Cola to Apple.

Year after year, that’s why the U.S. leads global rankings of IP protection.

Perhaps most conspicuously, the U.S. accounts for fully two-thirds of all new lifesaving pharmaceuticals introduced to the world each year.  In an era increasingly reliant on pharmaceutical treatments for everything from Covid to cancer to Alzheimer’s, that is a leadership of which we should remain both proud and protective.

Inexplicably, however, some voices seek to undermine that IP leadership position.  A group called I-MAK offers the latest assault, with a “study” entitled “Overpatented, Overpriced,” which attempts to show “how excessive pharmaceutical patenting is extending monopolies and driving up drug prices.”  We employ scare quotes around the term “study” because I-MAK’s work has been previously debunked and exposed by leading IP scholars like George Mason University and Antonin Scalia Law School Professor Adam Mossoff and Senator Thom Tillis (R – North Carolina) for using defective and non-transparent supporting data.

Indeed, we highlighted earlier this year how drug prices have remained far, far below overall inflation.  Efforts like I-MAK’s would only end up suffocating drug innovation, not reducing prices, as we’ve also highlighted:

Of all new cancer drugs developed worldwide between 2011 and 2018, 96% were available to American consumers.  Meanwhile, only 56% of those drugs became available in Canada, 50% in Japan, and just 11% in Greece, as just three examples.  Patients in nations imposing drug price controls simply don’t receive access to new pharmaceuticals as quickly as Americans, if they ever receive them at all.”

Even the World Health Organization (WHO) acknowledges that overseas consumers’ lower access to pharmaceutical innovations stems from their governments’ imposition of price control regimes:

‘Every time one country demands a lower price, it leads to lower price reference used by other countries.  Such price controls, combined with the threat of market lockout or intellectual property infringement, prevent drug companies from charging market rates for their products, while delaying the availability of new cures to patients living in countries implementing those policies.’”

The irrefutable reality is that U.S. patent protections explain why we produce the overwhelming share of new drugs worldwide, including the Covid vaccines.  Efforts like I-MAK’s latest “study” continue a bizarre ongoing affront to property rights, the rule of law and IP.  If successful, they would only mean fewer future vaccines and treatments, and must be flatly rejected.

 

September 22nd, 2022 at 4:58 pm
New Lung Cancer Breakthrough Illustrates the Potential Peril of Drug Price Controls
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We at CFIF often highlight the clear and present danger that drug price control schemes pose to American consumers, who benefit from our private pharmaceutical sector that leads the world – by far – in innovation.  A new lung cancer treatment breakthrough in the form of Amgen’s Lumakras illustrates that interrelationship.

Simply put, Lumakras reduced the risk of progression by 34% compared to chemotherapy in patents with advanced lung cancer, which is particularly welcome considering lung cancer’s especially low survival rate (18.6% over five years, and just 5% for advanced forms).  The breakthrough required years of research and enormous amounts of investment, however, which The Wall Street Journal notes makes Lumakras the type of innovation put at risk by new drug price controls recently enacted by Congressional Democrats and the Biden Administration:

The drug is by no means a cure, but progress occurs at the margin and some patients who had what amounted to a death sentence now have hope to live.  Lumakras is also much less brutal than chemotherapy.

Yet the drug might not have been developed had the Medicare take-it-or-leave-it negotiations that Democrats recently enacted been in effect earlier.  Their price controls will penalize in particular small-molecule drugs like Lumakras that have the potential to help large numbers of patients.  Within six years, Lumakras could be targeted by bureaucrats for price controls and the payoff on Amgen’s investment could vanish.

The reason for that is simple.  Straightforward economic principles dictate the inevitable negative blowback from government price controls, whether in the form of 1970s gas lines here in the U.S. or food shortages in Venezuela.

Even the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) warns explicitly about these negative consequences of price controls on drug innovation:

[P]rice controls, combined with the threat of market lockout or intellectual property infringement, prevent drug companies from charging market rates for their products, while delaying the availability of new cures to patients living in countries implementing those policies.  

Closer to home, a recent University of Chicago study quantified the destructive effect of drug price controls on future lifesaving innovations:

The United States has fewer restrictions on price than other countries, but the Biden Administration has announced their goal to lower drug prices through greater price regulation…  [N]ew drug approvals will fall by 32 to 65 approvals from 2021 to 2029 and 135 to 277 approvals from 2030 to 2039.  These significant drops in new drug approvals will lead to delays in needed drug therapies, resulting in worse health outcomes for patients.  

As the University of Chicago points out, the U.S. maintains a more market-oriented approach to pharmaceutical innovation than other developed nations, which benefits American consumers.  Of 270 new medicines introduced here in the U.S. since 2011, for instance, Canadians could only access 52% of them, the Germans 67%, the British 64%, the French 53%, the Japanese 48% and the Australians just 41%.  Moreover, the U.S. accounts for two-thirds of all new drugs introduced to the world.

The real-world numbers speak for themselves.  Americans benefit immensely from our world-leading pharmaceutical sector, and Lumakras offers just the latest welcome example.  The sooner the recent drug price control schemes are repealed or scaled back, the more Americans who suffer from cancer and other ailments stand to benefit.

 

August 31st, 2022 at 6:18 pm
Senate Should Take Up Companion Legislation to the House’s American Music Fairness Act (H.R. 4130)
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Congress doesn’t maintain a spotless record of affixing accurate titles to proposed legislation, but in the case of the American Music Fairness Act (H.R. 4130), the House of Representatives nails it.

Now it’s time for the Senate to take up companion legislation and bring greater fairness to performance rights in the music industry.

By way of background, federal law currently secures royalty payments for songwriters and others when their songs are played on AM-FM terrestrial radio, but not for the performing artists themselves.  Deepening that odd paradox, performance artists receive compensation when their songs play on digital broadcast platforms like the internet, satellite and cable.  Terrestrial radio broadcasters, however, somehow remain exempt under existing law from having to pay that same compensation.  There’s no logical or legal justification for that paradox, which amounts to crony capitalism in the form of a special government carve-out.

Fortunately, the American Music Fairness Act currently before the House would finally secure performance rights for artists whose recordings are played on terrestrial radio (with exceptions maintained for smaller mom-and-pop stations).  In 2021, we at CFIF joined numerous fellow conservative and libertarian organizations in a coalition letter to the House amplifying the need to pass this legislation to protect artists’ natural intellectual property (IP) rights:

The Constitution protects intellectual property rights and specifically delegates to Congress authority to protect creative works.  Artists who produce music therefore have the right to protect their intellectual property, including both the writer and performer of a given recording.  When a given work is transmitted, common sense and basic fairness dictate that the medium of transmission should not affect the existence of these rights.  Yet, under the current regime, a performer does not hold effective or enforceable rights to his or her product when it is distributed through terrestrial radio.”

Opponents of the American Music Fairness Act illogically suggest that it would somehow introduce needless market regulation, but the obvious reality is that the market is already regulated in the discriminatory manner described above.  The American Music Fairness Act would merely level the playing field and respect the value of the artists’ works.

Some opponents of H.R. 4130 also falsely attempt to portray it as creating a “tax.”  As leading anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform answers, however, taxes are compulsory payments to government, whereas royalties are voluntary payments to broadcast others’ creations:

[W]hat is proposed is not, in fact, a tax but a royalty.  The definition of a tax is the transfer of wealth from a household or business to the government.  Taxes aren’t voluntary; paying a royalty is.  It is completely within the rights of broadcasters to decide not to pay for the use of a performer’s song by simply not using the song.  This may not be an ideal option, but these songs actually are the property of someone else…  Just as dishonest as calling a tax a fee or fine, so too is it wrong to apply the word ‘tax’ to a royalty payment.  Creating the negative perception that this legislation creates a new tax may be convenient in the short term and assist opponents in gaining political support;  in the long run it is incredibly unhelpful to those who work to reduce the burden of government in our everyday lives.”

By any standard of fairness and logic, performing artists possess a natural right to enjoy the fruits of their labor and creativity, just like any of us do for our work.  After all, artists already receive performance payments from non-terrestrial radio stations, reflecting the value of their work.  The American Music Fairness Act simply corrects an unfair and illogical federal carve-out.

Accordingly, the House should promptly pass this long-overdue legislation, and the Senate should similarly take up companionate legislation.

August 5th, 2022 at 11:25 am
Image of the Day: Prescription Drug Prices Aren’t the Inflationary Problem
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As Senators Joe Manchin (D – West Virginia) and Kyrsten Sinema (D – Arizona) betray their “moderate” charade and join Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D – New York) latest tax-and-spend monstrosity, we’ve highlighted the preposterousness of the claim that imposing drug price controls will in any way address out-of-control inflation.  Price controls will kill innovation, but do nothing to reduce inflation, because prescription drug prices simply aren’t the problem.  Once again, economist Steve Moore offers a handy illustration of that truth:

Prescription Drug Costs Aren't the Problem

Prescription Drug Costs Aren’t the Problem

June 17th, 2022 at 12:18 pm
Inexcusable and Dangerous: Biden Administration Surrenders U.S. Patent Rights to World Trade Organization (WTO)
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For a man who constantly claims to support “Buy American,” Joe Biden demonstrates an inexplicable and almost fetish-like tendency to undercut American industries.

Since day one, the Biden Administration has ceaselessly besieged a domestic energy sector that finally achieved U.S. energy independence after decades of effort.  And now, it is following through on its inexcusably foolish assault against the U.S. pharmaceutical sector.

Each year, American pharmaceutical innovators account for an astounding two-thirds of all new lifesaving drugs introduced worldwide.  That’s the direct result of our system of intellectual property (IP) protections, including patents, which consistently leads the world.

Instead of protecting that legacy of American Exceptionalism, however, the Biden Administration remains bizarrely determined to eviscerate it.  Today, the World Trade Organization (WTO) announced agreement to forcibly waive patent protections for Covid vaccines, a dangerous effort that the Biden Administration for some reason supports.

This is nothing short of a license to steal U.S. patents.

The WTO effort serves no valid purpose, because Covid treatments are already being provided to poor nations across the world and the underlying pharmaceutical patents it targets are already being licensed at reduced prices or even for free.  Moreover, the  nations that the WTO claims to help recognize that lack of immunizations stems not from vaccine shortages, but rather from local logistical distribution problems and vaccination hesitancy among unvaccinated people in those nations.  Indeed, biopharmaceutical manufacturers remain capable of producing 20 billion vaccine doses this calendar year, so the problem isn’t lack of vaccine availability.

Additionally, a  supermajority of American voters spanning the political spectrum oppose this forcible waiver of Covid vaccine patents, favoring instead the licensing of patents to boost the global supply of vaccines.  Specifically, over 70% of voters believe that waiving Covid vaccine IP could have significant negative implications on the safety and efficacy of supply.

American patent protections explain our unmatched record of innovation, and also why we produce the overwhelming share of new drugs worldwide.  As the pandemic demonstrated once again, that includes Covid vaccines.  The WTO proposal egregiously sacrifices U.S. property rights and undermines the rule of law, which in turn will mean fewer lifesaving vaccines and treatments in the future.  If the Biden Administration won’t correct course, Congress must intervene to do so.

 

 

 

 

April 26th, 2022 at 1:28 pm
Happy World Intellectual Property (IP) Day — Celebrating the Fuel of U.S. and Worldwide Innovation
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Happy World Intellectual Property (IP) Day!

Among the many elements explaining American Exceptionalism in worldwide innovation, power and prosperity, nothing stands above our enduring legacy of protecting IP – patents, copyrights, trademarks and trade secrets.

Since America’s founding, we’ve protected IP like no other nation before or since.  Our Founding Fathers deliberately inserted text protecting IP rights into Article I of the Constitution, which reads, “Congress shall have the Power … To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.”  And as James Madison explained in the Federalist Papers while advocating ratification of the Constitution, protecting IP respected the natural right of individuals to enjoy the fruits of their labors, while also serving the public good by encouraging innovation.

The assurance that one’s creations will enjoy legal protection in turn promotes creative activity, which is why Abraham Lincoln — himself a patent attorney — noted that America’s IP protections, “added the fuel of interest to the fire of genius in the discovery and production of new and useful things.”

Consequently, no nation spanning the entirety of human history even approaches America’s record of patented invention, from the telephone to the airplane, from lifesaving pharmaceuticals like the polio vaccine to the internet.   No society remotely rivals our copyrighted artistic influence, whether in the form of motion pictures, television programming or popular music.  No nation’s trademarks stand recognized in the way that the Coca-Cola or Apple logos are instantly identified across the world.  A direct relationship exists between our tradition of IP protection and our unrivaled success in innovation and prosperity.

That’s why we at CFIF are pleased to join over 100 other free-market, conservative and libertarian organizations here in the U.S. and across the globe in celebrating World IP Day, as highlighted by our collective open letter to World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Director-General Daren Tang:

IP-intensive industries play a central role in job creation. In the United States, IP-intensive industries account for 44 percent of total employment, and jobs in these industries come with a 60 percent weekly wage premium over jobs in other industries… 

Intellectual property protections are also important for promoting economic growth.  The United States Patent and Trademark Office found that IP-intensive industries contribute $7.8 trillion USD to the U.S. economy, or nearly 41 percent of total U.S. DP.  The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Intellectual Property Center (GIPC) further reported that these innovative industries account for over 40 percent of U.S. economic growth.  The role of robust IP protections is clearest when contrasting country scores and their World Bank income classification.  According to the 2021 International Property Rights Index, high-income countries’ scores were 33.5 percent stronger than the average score of upper-middle-income countries and 66.1 percent stronger than the average score of low-income countries.  This IP protection gap must be closed.”

Unfortunately, too many political leaders here in America and across the world fail to respect the role of IP in boosting innovation and wellbeing, and actively seek to undermine it.  We cannot let that occur, lest we all suffer.  As we conclude in our coalition letter, “On this World Intellectual Property Day, we urge WIPO, along with other international organizations, national governments, and policymakers around the world, to continue to promote policies which strengthen intellectual property protections and ensure that a healthy innovation environment can thrive for today’s youth and for generations to come.”

 

 

March 31st, 2022 at 12:49 pm
Congress Mustn’t Tolerate WTO and Biden Admin Proposal Targeting U.S. Pharmaceutical Patent Protections
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This week, the Biden Administration’s United States Trade Representative (USTR) Katherine Tai appeared before the Senate Finance Committee and House Ways and Means Committee, offering an important opportunity to rally opposition to the administration’s agreement with a misguided proposal in the World Trade Organization (WTO) to suspend patent protections for Covid vaccines, treatments and other therapies created by U.S. pharmaceutical innovators (through what’s known as the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property, or “TRIPS”).

Don’t let the esoteric nature of the treaty fool you – this is an extremely dangerous proposal to attack U.S. patent rights.  As The Wall Street Journal observed, “this may be the single worst presidential economic decision” since the Nixon Administration.

That assessment is well-founded.  Strong patent protections provide the foundation for U.S. pharmaceutical innovation, and explain why the U.S. leads the world by accounting for an astounding two-thirds of all new drugs introduced worldwide.  The Covid vaccines and treatments at issue provide just the latest example.  Contravening that obvious causal relationship, however, some WTO members demand that the U.S. surrender those vital patent and other intellectual property (IP) protections for Covid vaccines, diagnostics and other treatments.  Worse, some misguided politicians here in America who should know better echo those potentially destructive demands.

That would tragically and needlessly undermine the very policies that prompted pharmaceutical innovators to devise and develop the vaccines already providing relief to the world, and leave us less capable of addressing current and future diseases and pandemics.  Ironically, President Biden himself has historically supported patent and other IP rights, including sponsorship of the 1980 Bayh-Dole Act that proved so invaluable in promoting innovation, and which The Economist magazine labeled “possibly the most inspired piece of legislation to be enacted in America over the past half-century.”

It’s also important to note that more rational actors like the European Union, United Kingdom, Canada, Switzerland and Japan oppose the proposed TRIPS patent suspension.   In contrast, WTO members India and South Africa, which back the effort targeting U.S. patent rights, have even joined international rogues China and Russia to create their own joint “vaccine center.”  That betrays the bad faith of their broader effort.

India and South Africa have joined with China and Russia (and Brazil) to establish a joint BRICS vaccine center.

The proposed TRIPS waiver targeting U.S. drug innovators and patent protections is also unnecessary, because treatments are already being provided to impoverished nations across the world, and patent rights are already being licensed at abnormally low prices or even free of charge.  To the extent that difficulties in immunizing impoverished populations remain, as emphasized by the Africa Centres for Disease Control, the problems center on local logistical distribution problems and vaccination hesitancy among the unvaccinated, not supply shortages.  Indeed, biopharmaceutical manufacturers already possess the ability to produce 20 billion vaccine doses in 2022.

More broadly, lawmakers and American consumers must consider the dangerous signal that suspending patent rights for pharmaceutical innovators would send, and the long-term disincentives that would follow if pharmaceutical patent rights were weakened rather than protected.  Pharmaceutical innovation demands billions of dollars in sunk costs of investment and testing, not to mention potential product liability lawsuits for any error.  To suddenly signal that those costs and risks won’t be sufficiently and fairly rewarded through ensuing patent protections would have catastrophic effects over both the short and long terms.  That will increasingly become the reality if we accept policies that deprive innovators and investors of the incentives to create drugs that save millions and even billions of lives.

American patent protections are the leading reason why we continue to produce the overwhelming share of new drugs worldwide, including the Covid vaccines themselves.  The WTO and Biden Administration must recognize and respect that reality, and Congress must act to stop this potentially catastrophic WTO proposal.

August 11th, 2021 at 11:22 am
Webinar: Debunking Patent & Antitrust Myths — Watch Now
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On August 5, CFIF teamed up with IPWatchdog, Inc. to offer a free webinar conversation to debunk several myths associated with patent thickets and pejorative terms used to denigrate innovators and patent owners.

Watch the full video of the event below.

August 3rd, 2021 at 10:07 am
Free Webinar: Debunking Patent & Antitrust Myths — Register Now
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Throughout its history, the United States has led the world in protecting intellectual property (IP) rights. On that foundation, we’ve also led the world in artistic, commercial and scientific innovation, particularly with lifesaving medicines and vaccines.

Yet patent rights are under increasing assault, with anti-patent activists charging pharmaceutical makers with “antitrust” violations for utilizing and building upon their patents for the greater good. Their rhetoric and false critiques under the guise of “antitrust” typically rely upon an array of misleading and pejorative labels, to the point where they take on a meaning that bears no resemblance to reality.

The Center for Individual Freedom (CFIF) and IPWatchdog, Inc., have partnered up to offer a free webinar conversation that will debunk the myths associated with patent thickets and pejorative terms used to denigrate innovators and patent owners.

Join us on Thursday, August 5 at 12pm ET.  Register now by clicking here

Gene Quinn, President and CEO of IPWatchdog, Inc., will be moderating the discussion. Joining Gene will be…

  • Timothy Lee, SVP of Legal and Public Affairs, Center for Individual Freedom
  • Chris Israel, Executive Director, The Alliance of U.S. Startups for Inventors and Jobs
  • Andrew Spiegel, Executive Director, Global Colon Cancer Association
  • Adam Mossoff, Professor of Law, Antonin Scalia Law School, George Mason University and Senior Fellow and Chair of the Forum for IP, Hudson Institute

During the webinar the panel will discuss:

  • The important role innovators play in the technology economy;
  • Why so-called “patent thickets” actually increase innovation;
  • Why claims of “product hopping” are not about pharmaceutical coercion but instead are about preventing follow-on pharmaceutical innovation so generics can compete with the drug being sold by brand name pharma companies;
  • Why courts have ruled “pay-for-delay settlements” are a valid by-product of a patent holder’s exclusionary rights.

Register here!

 

July 29th, 2021 at 10:02 am
Ramirez Cartoon: China IP Theft
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Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez…

May 13th, 2021 at 8:59 pm
Image of the Day: Private Sector Pharmaceutical Investment Propels Innovation
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As we’ve highlighted, the dangerous effort to weaken critical patent protections for U.S. pharmaceutical innovators often minimizes the role of private investment and exaggerates the role of public funding.  This offers a critical corrective at a moment when American drug and vaccine innovation is more important than ever:

The Critical Role of Private Pharmaceutical Investment

The Critical Role of Private Pharmaceutical Investment

August 28th, 2020 at 9:58 am
Image of the Day: Private R&D Dwarfs Public Funding
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As we’ve continued to highlight, Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders and others dangerously seek to weaken U.S. patent protections, which for centuries have led the world and account for the fact that the U.S. pharmaceutical sector introduces more new drugs than the rest of the world combined.  Their logic is that federal research and development funding justifies confiscation, not realizing that, as former patent attorney Abraham Lincoln once noted, the U.S. patent system added “the fuel of interest to the fire of genius.”  From our friends at AEI, a new graphic highlights again how private R&D actually dwarfs federal funding, which understandably peaked in the 1960s during the Cold War and Space Race.  It’s simply no justification for weakening America’s ongoing legacy of strong patent protections:

Private R&D Leads the Way

Private R&D Leads the Way

 

July 24th, 2020 at 4:10 pm
CFIF Opposes White House Executive Order Importing Foreign Nations’ Socialized Medicine and Drug Price Controls
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Regrettably, the White House today announced an executive order that effectively imports drug price controls from foreign nations with socialized healthcare systems.  We at CFIF strongly oppose the order and encourage immediate reconsideration.  Below is CFIF President Jeffrey Mazzella’s statement:

“Price controls simply do not work, regardless of the product targeted or the location they’re attempted, and real-world experience establishes that pharmaceutical price controls are no different.  The new executive order would impose what’s known as an International Pricing Index (IPI) for U.S. drugs administered by the federal government, meaning that foreign governments’ drug price controls would suddenly control our own reimbursement rates.  That would upend our current system, which has actually already reduced the cost of the 50 most popular Medicare Part B drugs sold by approximately 1%.  Our current system already includes the discounts negotiated between hospitals, healthcare plans and payers.  In contrast, foreign governments whose price control schemes we would import don’t negotiate, but instead dictate prices while threatening to violate patent rights and employ a ‘take it or leave it’ approach.

“As a direct consequence of foreign nations’ price control approaches that disrespect patent rights, those nations receive far fewer new lifesaving and life-improving drugs than American consumers.  For example, 96% of all new cancer drugs over the past decade were made available to U.S. consumers.  In contrast, only 56% of those same drugs became available in Canada, only 50% became available in Japan and only 11% in Greece, as just three examples.  Simply put, consumers in nations whose governments impose drug price controls don’t enjoy access to nearly as many new drugs as Americans, or nearly as soon.  As The Wall Street Journal found, that’s why America outpaces European nations in terms of cancer survival rates, among other advantages.

“Even the Trump Administration itself has highlighted the destructive effect of importing foreign price controls.  In 2018, its Council of Economic Advisers affirmed that, “If the United States had adopted the centralized drug pricing policy in other developed nations twenty years ago, then the world may not have highly valuable treatments for diseases that required significant investment.”

“Currently, the United States accounts for nearly two-thirds of all new drugs introduced worldwide, and our more market-oriented system and protection of patent rights explains why.  Very few potential new drugs ever reach the market, due to astronomical research and development costs, lengthy government safety tests, laboratory effectiveness trials, possible product liability lawsuits, patent protection limitations and other bureaucratic hassles.  Imposing artificial price controls would add to those headwinds by making it less possible to recover the massive costs of developing new medicines and R&D, leading to fewer new drugs for U.S. consumers.

“Instead of importing foreign nations’ price control schemes and their consequences, America should be exporting our superior system to their shores.

“Today’s executive order contravenes the Trump Administration’s broader agenda of deregulation, free-market approaches and strong intellectual property (IP) protections.  Hopefully, the White House quickly realizes the potentially catastrophic consequences of this order, lest American consumers suffer in the same way as consumers in the foreign nations that impose the price controls that it now seeks to import.

“In his State of the Union Address earlier this year, President Trump reassured Americans that, ‘To those watching at home tonight, I want you to know that we will never let socialism destroy American healthcare.’  Unfortunately, the White House’s executive order announced today regarding drug prices would do precisely that.

“We therefore urge President Trump to reconsider this potentially catastrophic order in the strongest possible terms.”

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July 14th, 2020 at 11:47 am
Image of the Day: The Shocking Cost of Chinese Intellectual Property (IP) Theft
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Shocking but necessary perspective on the cost of Chinese theft of U.S. intellectual property (IP) from National Review employing Congressional Research Service numbers:

 

The Shocking Cost of Chinese IP Theft

The Shocking Cost of Chinese IP Theft

 

July 6th, 2020 at 2:32 pm
“Blanket Licensing” – a Collectivist, Bureaucratic, One-Size-Fits-All Deprivation of Property Rights Proposal
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America’s legacy of unparalleled copyright protections and free market orientation has cultivated a music industry unrivaled in today’s world or throughout human history.

From the first days of the phonograph, through the jazz age, through the rock era, through disco, through country, through hip-hop and every other popular musical iteration since its advent, it’s not by accident that we lead the world in the same manner in which we lead in such industries as cinema and television programming.  We can thank our nation’s emphasis on strong copyright protections.

Unfortunately, that reality doesn’t deter some activists from periodically advocating a more collectivist, top-down governmental reordering of the music industry in a way that would deprive artists and creators of their property rights.  Some advocates simply will not relent in their unceasing and misguided campaign to undermine copyright protections that have provided the wellspring for U.S. musical preeminence.  They seek to replace strong copyright protections and the freedom of market participants to mutually negotiate, ultimately to consumers’ obvious benefit, and replace them with a government-determined rate and a one-size-fits-all bureaucratic approach that eliminates market participants’ autonomy.

As just the latest example, British activist Cory Doctorow of the Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF) now proposes a “blanket licensing” idea under which anyone wishing to offer music to pubic audiences would be required to open an account with a collecting society.  His heavily bureaucratic proposal would curtail the ability of copyright owners to negotiate royalties as they see fit with internet music platforms.

In an era of endless musical genres and methods to access them according to one’s preference, how does imposing such a collectivist, centralized, one-size-fits-all regime make sense?

The obvious answer is that it doesn’t.

Doctorow’s proposal betrays a fundamental flaw by misconceptualizing the nature of copyright itself by misstating “copyright’s real purpose:  spurring creativity and innovation.”

While Doctorow can be forgiven for his unfamiliarity with American constitutional principles, and while the utilitarian goal of creativity and innovation is indeed a primary feature of copyright and other intellectual property (IP) protections, that’s an inaccurate and incomplete statement of its “real purpose.”  Rather, copyright through common law and American constitutional history is valued as a natural property right of the creator, as we at CFIF articulated in our policy manual entitled ”The Constitutional and Historical Foundations of Copyright Protection”:

The Copyright Clause in the U.S. Constitution and the pre-existing rights it secures both arose from a long intellectual and historical tradition that reflected both the importance of economic incentives (the utilitarian argument) and the notion that individuals have an inherent and inviolable right to the fruits of their own labor.  As the Supreme Court has explained, ‘[t]he economic philosophy behind the clause empowering Congress to grant patents and copyrights’ is the conviction that:  ‘(1) encouragement of individual effort by personal gain is the best way to advance public welfare through the talents of authors and inventors in “Science and the useful Arts”’ and (2) ‘[s]acrificial days devoted to such creative activities deserve rewards commensurate with the services rendered.’  Mazer v. Stein, 347 U.S. 201, 219 (1954).  Another early decision emphasized that only through copyright protection ‘can we protect intellectual property, the labors of the mind, productions and interests as much a man’s own, and as much the fruit of his honest industry, as the wheat he cultivates or the flocks he rears.’  Davoll v. Brown, 7 F.Cas. 197, 199 (D. Mass. 1845).

Accordingly, Doctorow’s proposal violates the central concept that copyright holders possess a natural right to their creations.  Even ignoring the natural right foundation of copyright, however, no other system of copyright protection has resulted in greater utility than our own, given America’s uniquely prolific music industry as noted above.

In addition to violating the fundamental rights of copyright owners to mutually bargain with music platforms, Seth Cooper of the Free State Foundation cogently summarizes how EFF’s proposal doesn’t accord with the obvious realities of today’s music marketplace:

[T]he EFF plan sidesteps the fact that there are several major Internet music service providers and numerous smaller providers.  Popular interactive (or ‘on-demand’) streaming music providers include Spotify, Tidal, Apple Music, Amazon Music, and Google Play Music.  Popular webcasters include Pandora, iHeartRadio, and Deezer.  And there are many others.  SoundExchange reported that some 3,600 webcasting services were operating in 2019.

Importantly, consumer choices also include nationwide satellite radio broadcaster Sirius XM and local AM/FM radio broadcasters.  Indeed, radio broadcasts are widely available through apps on smartphones and other devices.  Additional choices include digital downloads from major Internet music service providers as well as independent and individual artist websites.  CDs and vinyl records are also available at retail.

Given the number of competitors and platform choices, it is highly unlikely that Internet music services possess market power – or the ability to charge consumers above-market prices and otherwise engage in anti-competitive conduct.  There’s no showing of market power here and so the case for government intervention falls apart.” 

Accordingly, the EFF proposal contravenes fundamental concepts of copyright protections, it proposes to reorder a music marketplace that continues to function well for all of its stakeholders and it clashes with contemporary market realities.

We currently enjoy a functional market with innumerable market participants, and copyright owners across the spectrum possess the freedom to negotiate with a wide variety of potential distributors.  EFF’s proposal nevertheless aims to strip creators of the property rights they currently enjoy without justification.  The market simply isn’t broken.  Supporters of EFF’s proposal curiously assert that today’s market is corrupted by monopolies, but as Mr. Cooper sets forth nicely above, a broad global spectrum of potential avenues exist for consumers to freely access as they prefer.

Accordingly, the notion that we should upend a market in which consumers can access an ever-greater variety of music at low cost is an untenable one.

A better option would be for Congress to expand copyright holders’ protections to the sphere of terrestrial radio via the Ask Musicians for Music Act (AMFM Act), to extend what we know works, rather than foolishly venture into demonstrably defective novel proposals.

May 18th, 2020 at 10:37 am
New Gallup Report Undermines the Myth of “Superior” European Healthcare
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Socialized medicine advocates curiously but persistently suggest that European models offer a superior alternative to the American healthcare system that relies more on private market forces and strong intellectual property rights.  Gallup offers an important corrective, even if unintentionally.  Whereas the percentage of Americans rating their healthcare as positive has remained within a high 76% to 83% window for years, Europeans consistently rate their healthcare satisfaction substantially lower, with only Germany matching American satisfaction levels:

 

Germany:  84% approve/15% disapprove

United Kingdom:  76% approve/22% disapprove

France:  74% approve/25% disapprove

Spain:  68% approve/31% disapprove

Italy:  51% approve/487% disapprove

 

That’s important to remember as calls for socialized medicine become louder amid the coronavirus pandemic and as November elections approach.