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Posts Tagged ‘Intellectual Property’
July 2nd, 2024 at 6:30 pm
Record Labels Rightly Sue Abusive AI Music Generators
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However else one opines on the merits or perils of artificial intelligence (AI), everyone of good faith can agree that it mustn’t become a tool for brazen copyright infringement.  Artists who pour their (sometimes literal) blood, sweat and tears into their creative works shouldn’t have those works stolen and exploited by AI bots.

That is particularly true as it relates to AI music generators specifically created for that exploitative purpose.

For that reason, we should all welcome and applaud major record labels for their decisive lawsuit against AI generators Suno and Udio, whom they accuse in their complaints of copyright violation on an “unimaginable scale.”

The complaints make for gripping reading unlike most legal filings, but we’re not talking here about sampling various songs or “fair use” or ambiguous similarities between songs.  We’re talking about wholesale theft, scraping songs for exploitation, which not only punishes artists but America’s entire world-leading music industry.

The complaints can be – and should be – read in their entirety here and here, and we should welcome this effort to enforce creators’ IP rights, regardless of how the broader AI landscape continues to expand.

 

 

April 5th, 2024 at 5:09 pm
April Fools’ Day Four Days Late? Google Objects to OpenAI Using YouTube to Train Its Own Generator
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File under “You Can’t Make This Stuff Up.”

Somehow, it actually seems like a farcical April Fools’ Day headline, in fact.  Google, with its deep history of scraping and scanning other sources’ substantive content for its own uses, now objects to OpenAI using YouTube content to train its text-to-video generator:

The use of YouTube videos to train OpenAI’s text-to-video generator would be an infraction of the platform’s terms of service, YouTube Chief Executive Officer Neal Mohan said.”

Optimists might hope that Google is finally recognizing and preparing to correct its wayward course, while realists and cynics will roll their eyes at what they’ll label naivete.  As the old adage goes, however, “every saint has a past, every sinner has a future,” so we’ll maintain hope.

February 8th, 2024 at 12:35 pm
TikTok’s Latest Assault: Ripping Off American Artists and Songwriters
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Americans are by now broadly aware of the threat posed by Chinese-owned TikTok, including its threat to U.S. national security.

In recent days, we’ve witnessed in real time another emerging TikTok threat reaching the headlines:  The threat it poses to intellectual property protections, which undergird America’s status as the most artistically and musically productive and influential nation in human history.

Universal Music Group, however, has decided to stand up and fight back by removing its catalog of songs – including artists like Taylor Swift, Drake and Billie Eilish – from TikTok.

Tone-Deaf TikTok has built its aggressive worldwide empire largely on the backs of music created by American artists, as even its corporate leadership openly admits.  As TikTok’s very own “Year in TikTok 2021 Music Report” states in its opening sentence, “Music is at the heart of the TikTok experience.”

Those are its own words.  Indeed, TikTok content features music to a degree beyond other social media platforms.

As the contractual relationship between Universal and TikTok approached its end on January 31, TikTok decided to play hardball by proposing to compensate songwriters and artists a fraction of what other social media platforms pay, essentially disregarding its reliance on music-based content amid ascending advertising revenues and user base.

In other words, TikTok demands a right to build a music-reliant business without paying fair market value for that music on which it relies.

Songwriters and performing artists invest enormous amounts of time, talent and resources in creating their original works of art.  In so doing, those artists and songwriters obtain intellectual property rights in their creations.  By leveraging its massive and growing worldwide power, TikTok seeks to exploit those creative works for its own benefit without just compensation.  That violates the artists’ intellectual property rights, which have provided the fuel by which America became the world’s leader in music influence.  Artists deserve fair compensation for the use of their creations, and TikTok cannot be allowed to jeopardize America’s system of IP protections.

It also merits emphasis that TikTok’s behavior threatens emerging artists and songwriters most of all.  Whereas established artists often possess other potential revenue sources, emerging artists and songwriters rely more heavily upon royalties and fair compensation for their works.  Consequently, TikTok’s refusal to fairly compensate for use of music in expanding its platform will stifle growth of new musicians and restrict their ability to sustain careers in an already competitive industry.

TikTok has made many enemies, and its behavior in this instance helps illustrate why that’s the case.  It is inherently unfair and improper for TikTok to use its vast and growing control to exploit songwriters’ and musical artists’ creations to amass even more profits and expand its worldwide reach without offering fair compensation to those creative minds who play such an outsized role in its business model and growth.

Universal Music Group merits applause for standing up to TikTok, which may inspire others in positions of power to follow its lead.

 

December 19th, 2023 at 5:11 pm
Stat of the Day: Prescription Drug Prices Have ACCELERATED Since Biden’s “Inflation Reduction Act”
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Following up on our latest Liberty Update commentary highlighting the deepening disaster that is the Biden Administration healthcare and pharmaceutical policy, The Wall Street Journal notes that prescription drug prices have actually ACCELERATED their price inflation since Biden’s so-called “Inflation Reduction Act”:

Prescription drug prices increased by 2% during the Trump Presidency owing to greater generic competition, yet they’ve increased 5.5% so far under Mr. Biden. In November they rose at an annual rate of nearly 6%. Has the White House considered that the reason Americans don’t believe that the President’s policies have helped them is because they haven’t?”

The Biden Administration needs to correct course for the benefit of Americans, not double down.  But time is running out.

August 16th, 2023 at 3:31 pm
One Year Later, Biden’s “Inflation Reduction Act” Having Catastrophic Impact on U.S. Healthcare and Innovation
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“The record of price controls goes as far back as human history.  They were imposed by the Pharaohs of ancient Egypt.  They were decreed by Hammurabi, king of Babylon, in the eighteenth century B.C.  They were tried in ancient Athens.” -Henry Hazlitt

Today marks the one-year anniversary of Joe Biden’s misnamed “Inflation Reduction Act” (IRA), which even he now admits shouldn’t have carried that title.

Beyond Biden’s own regrets, however, Americans deserve to understand its destructive impact on our healthcare system and world-leading pharmaceutical innovation sector.

Namely, our traditional market-based approach has resulted in an unrivaled legacy of pharmaceutical innovation and abundance relative to the rest of the industrialized world.

For example, the United States accounts for approximately two of every three new lifesaving drugs introduced worldwide, meaning that we alone create twice as many new drugs as the entire world combined.  As another illustration, American consumers enjoy a substantially higher availability of critical drugs compared to people in other advanced economies.  Of 270 new medicines introduced domestically since 2011, only 52% of them were available to our neighbors just across our northern border in Canada, 41% in Australia, 48 % in Japan, 53% in France, 64% in Britain and 67% in Germany.

Destructive drug price controls, however, maintained an illogical appeal for the Biden Administration and the political left.

They can’t say that they couldn’t have foreseen the downsides of the IRA.  Amid debate over broad drug price controls back in 2021, a University of Chicago study warned of their potential negative impact on future drug innovation and availability:

The United States has far 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.  

Several years earlier, even the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) similarly warned about the consequences of government price controls and intellectual property violations:

[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.  

Disregarding those warnings and textbook economic logic, the Biden Administration and Pelosi-Schumer Congress plowed ahead with the IRA, whose drug price control provisions President Biden bizarrely trumpets as a 2024 reelection theme.  From branded drugs to off-patent older generics, the Biden Administration accelerated government efforts to artificially target drug prices, oblivious to the foreseeable consequences.

We’re now suffering the consequences of that agenda.

Drug shortages have already reached record highs, increasing by 30% between 2021 and 2022 alone, according to a report earlier this summer from the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs:

Shortages of critical medications continue to rise – including drugs used in hospital emergency rooms and to treat cancer, prescription medications, and even common over-the-counter treatments like children’s cold and flu medicine.  The number of active drug shortages in the U.S. reached a peak of 295 at the end of 2022. …  Between 2021 and 2022, new drug shortages increased by nearly 30 percent.  At the end of 2022, drug shortages experienced a record five-year high of 295 active drug shortages.  

Separately, a new report from the American Cancer Society warns of emerging drug shortages, caused in part by drug pricing policies:

Chemotherapy drugs used to treat cancer are increasingly in short supply and have returned to the list of top-five drug classes affected by shortage.  Expanded demand, supply shortages, limited manufacturing capacity, and low profit margins for generic therapies are among the factors resulting in the current nationwide shortage.  …  A number of the drugs included in the shortage don’t have an effective alternative.  As first-time treatments for a number of cancers, including triple-negative breast cancer, ovarian cancer and leukemia often experienced by pediatric cancer patients, the shortage could lead to delays in treatment that could result in worse outcomes.  

Accordingly, drug shortages have reached record levels under the looming threat of drug price controls, weaker intellectual property protections and regulatory browbeating.

Instead of perpetuating the IRA’s spiral of price control insanity, elected leaders should return to the more market-oriented approach that brought unrivaled innovation before more Americans pay the needless cost.

June 29th, 2023 at 12:06 pm
New Study Confirms Deadly Effect of Drug Price Controls on Lifesaving Innovation
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For years we’ve warned how drug price controls – as with price controls on any product or service – don’t reduce prices so much as they inevitably cause shortages and stifle innovation.

Europe and other advanced economies imposing socialized drug price controls suffer dramatic shortages compared to the traditionally more market-oriented United States, and now in the wake of the misnamed “Inflation Reduction Act” (IRA), the U.S. is already experiencing unprecedented drug shortages.

This is literally a matter of life and death.

A new analysis from Vital Transformation offers the latest detail on how the IRA’s drug price controls, and the proposed “Smart Prices Act” (SPA) seeking to expand them, will stifle innovation in the field of lifesaving pharmaceuticals:

Looking forward, we estimate that the expanded government price setting could result in roughly 230 fewer FDA approvals of new medicines over a ten-year period, once the impacts are fully reflected in the pipeline.  Impacts will be felt most heavily in many areas of unmet need, including rare disease, oncology, neurology, and infectious disease.”  (Emphasis added.)

Indeed, Vital Transformation’s study illustrates how many of the drugs currently targeted by the IRA’s price controls would’ve never come to market had the price controls existed at the time:

Had the drug pricing provisions of the SPA been in place prior to the development of today’s top-selling medicines, we estimate that 82 of the 121 therapies we identified as selected for price setting would likely have not been developed.”

In addition to price controls’ impact on lifesaving drug innovation, the new study also helpfully highlights the negative economic and job effects of these price controls on the U.S. economy and employment market:

We modeled the impacts on industry revenues and future R&D investments and estimated future lost innovation impacts including the impact on industry jobs.  We estimate a loss of between 146,000 – 230,000 direct biopharmaceutical industry jobs and a total of 730,000 – 1,100,000 U.S. jobs across the economy if the proposed IRA expansion were to be implemented.”

All of this, of course, simply confirms what analysts have known for decades.  A 2021 University of Chicago study warned in equally stark terms how drug price controls will dangerously reduce drug innovation and availability:

The United States has far fewer restrictions on price controls 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.”

Believe it or not, even the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) issued the same warning of the deadly consequences of government price controls and weaker patent protections:

[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.”

The evidence and real-world impacts are frankly beyond dispute.  Accordingly, it’s now up to reasonable members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives to oppose Joe Biden’s proposed 2024 budget and the SPA and avert the predictable deadly economically destructive consequences.

April 26th, 2023 at 3:16 pm
CFIF Proudly Celebrates World Intellectual Property (IP) Day
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Today is World Intellectual Property (IP) Day, and CFIF is proud to join a broad coalition of conservative, libertarian and free-market organizations in celebrating a key element that not only drives worldwide innovation and prosperity, but also is the central component explaining American Exceptionalism in worldwide innovation, power and prosperity.

In that latter regard, nothing stands above our enduring legacy of protecting IP – patents, copyrights, trademarks and trade secrets.  America throughout its history has 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.”  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.

That assurance that one’s creations will enjoy legal protection in turn promotes creative activity, which is why patent holder Abraham Lincoln 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 precisely why CFIF is so pleased to join other organizations here in the U.S. and across the globe in celebrating World IP Day, highlighting IP’s critical importance:

On World IP Day, we celebrate the role intellectual property plays in bolstering entrepreneurship, innovation, economic growth and quality job creation…

The U.S IP system drives economic growth, accounting for $7.8 trillion in GDP (41% of total GDP) and more than 47 million jobs.  Direct and indirect employment in IP industries accounts for 44% of U.S. jobs.

IP-intensive industries create high-paying jobs.  Average weekly-wage earnings are 60% higher than earnings in other sectors.  Accelerating the growth rate of women who participate in IP-intensive industries means increasing their earning power and financial well-being.

Unfortunately, some politicians here in America and abroad fail to respect the role of IP in boosting innovation and wellbeing, and actively seek to undermine it with such misguided efforts as surrendering patent rights to Covid vaccines developed in the U.S.

We cannot let that occur, lest Americans and billions across the world suffer.  Accordingly, on this World Intellectual Property Day, we urge national governments, policymakers and other organizations around the world to promote policies that strengthen intellectual property protections and ensure that a healthy innovation environment can thrive.

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!