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Posts Tagged ‘IP’
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.

March 18th, 2022 at 4:30 pm
Congress Should Pass the American Music Fairness Act (H.R. 4130) to Bring Fairness to Performance Artists
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For years, we at CFIF have joined fellow conservative and libertarian organizations to spotlight the unfairness under federal law by which songwriters and others receive royalty payments when their songs are played on AM-FM terrestrial radio, but the performing artists themselves do not.

Exacerbating the illogic, performance artists do receive compensation when their songs play on digital broadcast platforms like the internet, satellite and over cable.  Yet terrestrial radio broadcasters remain exempt under existing law from having to pay that same compensation.

There’s no logical or legal justification for that paradox.  It amounts to crony capitalism in the form of a special government carve-out, and we’ve called for changes in federal law to finally correct it.

Fortunately, we can report good news in Congress on this unresolved issue.

New legislation before the House of Representatives entitled the American Music Fairness Act (H.R. 4130) would finally secure a performance right for artists whose recordings are played on terrestrial radio, with exceptions allowed for smaller mom-and-pop stations.

As we and fellow conservative and libertarian organizations wrote in our coalition letter to the House in 2021, that would 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 might illogically allege that the proposal would introduce needless regulation of the market.  The truth, however, is that the market is already regulated in the discriminatory manner described above.  The proposed law would simply level the playing field and better respect the value of the artists’ works.

Opponents might also falsely attempt to portray H.R. 4130 as creating a “tax.”  As Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform cogently answered, however, a tax is a compulsory payment to government while royalties at issue here 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.”

Here’s the bottom line:  Performing artists have a natural right to enjoy the fruits of their labor and creativity, just like any of us do for our work.  Indeed, artists already receive payment from non-terrestrial radio stations, reflecting the value of the artists’ work.  Accordingly, the existing federal carve-out is unfair and illogical, and this bill simply corrects that imbalance.

It’s therefore time for Congress to pass the American Music Fairness Act (H.R. 4130) and achieve common-sense reform at last.

 

February 2nd, 2022 at 4:20 pm
Opposition to Biden FCC Nominee Gigi Sohn Reaches Critical Mass
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For months, CFIF has articulated why the U.S. Senate must reject the Biden Administration’s nomination of hyperpartisan Gigi Sohn to sit on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), including our expression of support for Senator Roger Wicker’s (R – Mississippi) demand for rehearing based upon potential ethical concerns regarding Ms. Sohn after reviewing the substance of a $32 million litigation settlement between television broadcasters and the defunct Locast streaming service following her nomination.  Sohn sat on the board of Sports Fan Coalition, a nonprofit organization that operated Locast:

As Senator Wicker rightfully notes, the FCC oversees and regulates companies that were party to the $32 million settlement in question. Accordingly, the possibility of Ms. Sohn’s future financial liability to companies over which she would wield power if confirmed to the FCC merit immediate and full investigation. In addition, the timing of the settlement following her nomination by the Biden Administration offers additional reason for full public hearing to resolve any ethical questions.”

Now, The Wall Street Journal joins the accumulating chorus of opposition, bluntly asking, “Does an independent agency nominee who has deceived Senators about her business conflicts deserve to be confirmed?”

After the hearing Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker followed up with a written question:  ‘Where did the money come from for the payment of the $32 million settlement in connection with the Locast case?’  If a company donated the funds, she might have to recuse herself from matters involving the donor.  She responded that the ‘settlement funds come from amounts collected to fund [Sports Fan Coalition NY] after SFCNY pays its vendors.’  SFCNY is the name of the nonprofit that operated Locast.  This was an odd answer because SFCNY’s IRS 990 form showed only $794,159 in assets and funds at the end of 2020.  Where did the other $31 million come from?

Ms. Sohn declined the Senate’s request for a copy of the settlement, and now we know why.  Bloomberg Law reported this week that the settlement was signed Oct. 27 — one day after President Biden nominated her.  Locast only agreed to pay $700,000.  We’ve independently reviewed a copy of the settlement, which has Ms. Sohn’s signature.  In other words, on the day after she was nominated to her powerful regulatory position, broadcasters agreed to a settlement that cut the liability of her nonprofit by 98%. Interesting timing.

Why didn’t Ms. Sohn correct Mr. Wicker about the ‘$32 million settlement’?  Even if there was nothing improper about the settlement agreement, her lack of candor is a problem.  The settlement also creates the appearance of a conflict given her pending power over broadcasters, which she must pledge to avoid in an FCC ethics agreement.”

Beyond her ethical failures as articulated by Senator Wicker and The Wall Street Journal, Ms. Sohn’s nomination gravely threatens America’s thriving internet sector.   Specifically, she seeks to more heavily regulate that sector in the image of European internet service, which performed poorly throughout the Covid pandemic compared to the United States.  Despite nationwide quarantines and surges in internet use, U.S. broadband speeds actually increased by 91% in 2020.  Europe, in contrast, suffered service bottlenecks and overload, prompting regulators to ask content providers to throttle back.  Ms. Sohn would undermine the private U.S. broadband sector and remake it in that demonstrably inferior European image.  She has signaled support for rate regulation of broadband and is a staunch advocate of government-owned broadband, which would undermine private investment and network expansion, as well as the jobs that investment and expansion create.

Sohn also favors radical reimposition of Title II so-called “Net Neutrality” regulations, which would regulate private internet service as a “public utility” under 1930s statutes aimed at copper-wire telephones.  After the Obama FCC first imposed those regulations in 2015, the negative effects were immediate:  For the very first time ever outside of an economic recession, private internet investment actually declined.  When the Trump Administration FCC under Chairman Ajit Pai subsequently reversed the Obama FCC’s Title II regulation, private investment rebounded and internet service speeds immediately increased.

Our internet service sector mustn’t be subjected to the sort of disruptive overregulation that Sohn would bring if confirmed to the FCC.  She’s also notoriously weak on U.S. intellectual property rights, and advocates imposition of consumer privacy laws in a crony capitalist manner.  She’s simply too radical to be confirmed to the FCC at a time when Americans rely more than ever on a thriving internet service sector, and Senator Wicker is to be applauded for his leadership on this issue.

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December 6th, 2021 at 12:19 pm
AEI’s Michael Rosen: “Omicron Variant Sows Chaos but Doesn’t Move Needle on Patent Waiver Debate”
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In our latest Liberty Update, we highlight an eye-opening new study confirming how drug price controls kill pharmaceutical investment and innovation at the worst possible time, when America and the entire world depend upon them more than ever.

In similar vein, American Enterprise Institute (AEI) Adjunct Fellow and healthcare expert Michael Rosen nicely illustrates how the omicron variant of Covid has paused the destructive global effort to suspend enforcement of patent rights belonging to lifesaving vaccine developers:

But the new omicron variant of the virus has intervened, shelving the planned WTO meeting and throwing into continued contrast the supposed haves and have-nots of vaccine protection…  But the EU has held firm in resisting the vaccine waiver, and rightly so.”

Unfortunately, even the EU remains too accommodating of calls to kill the goose that lays the golden vaccine eggs, but hopefully this latest experience brings greater collective wisdom.  If we seek to maximize healthcare and pharmaceutical innovation, the solution isn’t any secret.  Get bureaucrats and suffocating price controls and patent threats out of the way.

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

January 25th, 2021 at 1:07 pm
CFIF Joins 75-Group National & State Coalition Opposing Socialized Medicine and Importation of Foreign Price Controls
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Today, continuing our longstanding opposition to the ruination of American healthcare by importing foreign price controls and socialized medicine, CFIF proudly joins a 75-group coalition letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services opposing the interim final rule to implement the “Most Favored Nation” (MFN) model under Section 1115A of the Social Security Act, which forces physicians, patients and providers into a mandatory demonstration under the ObamaCare Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI), and which ties prices paid for medicines in Medicare Part B to the prices paid in socialized healthcare systems of foreign nations.

Specifically, the letter explains in detail how the rule will do nothing to stop foreign freeloading off of American pharmaceutical innovation, it will reduce access to new cures (just as it has in those foreign nations), it threatens millions of high-paying American jobs, it moves America one step closer to government-run healthcare and it utilizes ObamaCare to circumvent Article I of the U.S. Constitution.

As demonstrated once again by U.S. pharmaceutical leadership in quickly developing coronavirus vaccines, we’re the envy of the world in this regard.  The last thing we need at a moment like this is to undermine our status with a potentially catastrophic unforced error like this.

January 4th, 2021 at 9:51 am
Image of the Day: Medical / Pharmaceutical / Healthcare Sector Approval Skyrockets
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Although the year 2020 was a trying one in so many ways, one bright spot that we at CFIF repeatedly highlighted is the wondrous way in which America’s pharmaceutical sector came to the rescue, achieving in one year what typically takes a decade or more:  devising and perfecting not one, but multiple lifesaving vaccines.  It’s therefore no surprise, but welcome nonetheless, that Americans’ approval of our healthcare sector and its workers skyrocketed.  Their remarkable achievements have not gone unnoticed:

Medical Sector Approval Skyrocketed

Medical Sector Approval Skyrocketed

 

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