BIO and USPTO Trace the Journey of Biotech Inventions

BIO will be co-hosting an event with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the issuance of U.S.patent 4,259,444 to Ananda Chakrabarty following the Supreme Court case, Diamond v. Chakrabarty, which held that Chakrabarty’s bioengineered bacterium was eligible for patenting.  The event will be held during the BIO International Convention on the morning of Thursday, June 30, at the Walter E.Washington Convention Center inWashington, D.C. 

See the BIOtech NOW article for more details.

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House Judiciary Committee’s Patent Reform Bill is in Need of Reform, Says BIO

PRESS RELEASE

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Friday, April 15, 2011) – Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) President and CEO Jim Greenwood released the following statement regarding the America Invents Act, H.R. 1249, which passed the House Committee on the Judiciary yesterday:
 
“BIO has consistently praised House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) for his introduction of a comprehensive patent reform bill similar to the bill adopted by the U.S. Senate earlier this month by a nearly unanimous vote.  Unfortunately, given the addition of the Goodlatte supplemental examination amendment, added to the bill during Committee consideration, we have no choice but to oppose floor consideration of the bill until this issue is repaired.

“The supplemental examination provision as passed by the Senate and originally included in the House bill would allow patent holders to seek a review of their issued patents at their own risk.  The Goodlatte amendment undercuts this provision by creating disincentives for patent owners to use the new procedure by having the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) act as quasi-investigative body.

“We commend Chairman Smith for all the work he has done to craft a bill, the America Invents Act, which is a clear improvement over prior House versions of patent reform legislation.  BIO was very supportive of Chairman Smith’s Manager’s Amendment.  We are pleased that the legislation will end, once and for all, the diversion of fees collected by the PTO, allowing the agency to use all of its fees to hire more examiners, reduce the backlog of pending applications, and make other improvements to its operations.  We also commend the inclusion in the bill of many other reforms that will improve the patent system and enhance patent quality, including transition to a “first-to-file” system, the creation of an inter partes review system, and the elimination of other subjective elements of patent law.
 
“Nonetheless, given the importance of adopting a supplemental examination provision much like that which passed the Senate on a bipartisan, 95-5 vote, BIO notes our objection to this bill being considered on the House floor.  We commit to work with Chairman Smith and others to rectify this issue, so that a patent reform bill with broad support can be brought to the floor of the House.”

USPTO Remains Open for Six Business Days if Government Shuts Down

Press Release, 11-26

USPTO Prepares for Possible Government Shutdown

In the event of a government shutdown on April 9, 2011, the United States Patent and Trademark Office will remain open and continue to operate as usual for a period of six business days – through Monday, April 18, 2011 — because the USPTO has enough available reserves, not linked to the current fiscal year, to remain in operation until then. Should a shutdown occur and continue longer than the six-day period, we anticipate that limited staff will be able to continue to work to accept new electronic applications and maintain IT infrastructure, among other functions.  More information will be posted on this website as it becomes available. Thank you.

BIO Hosts U.S./China Biotechnology Examiner Workshop with U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and China’s State Intellectual Property Office

Press Release:

 
WASHINGTON, D.C. (Tuesday, April 05, 2011) – The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) hosted a U.S./China Biotechnology Examiner Workshop with U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) and China’s State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) on March 28, 2011 in Beijing, China. The workshop which was organized by BIO for SIPO examiners, focused on biotechnology patenting and encouraged bilateral cooperation between SIPO and the USPTO.“BIO recognizes the commitment on behalf of the Chinese Government and SIPO to spur innovation in the biotech industry and, together with the PTO, we pledge to partner with Chinese leaders to move the industry forward to benefit patients and other consumers worldwide,” said Jim Greenwood, CEO and President of BIO.The workshop was the first of a series of meetings intended to open communication and establish a relationship between the two groups. BIO will work with the SIPO to strengthen China’s regulatory system to encourage innovation and protect intellectual property within the country. The commitment of SIPO will be critical for sending a message to companies that want to do business in China.

“Robust development of the biotech industry in China depends on an advanced intellectual property and patent system,” said Scott Sindelar, Minister Counselor of Agricultural Affairs. “Today’s workshop is timely in sharing experience and regulations of patenting and IP both in the U.S. and China, and establishing greater understanding of each other.”

“Since most Chinese attendees are examiners of intellectual property, [the workshop] provides an opportunity to share experiences and ideas with our American counterparts,” said Yang Xiaowei, deputy Director General of International Cooperation Department of SIPO.

In each of three panels, USPTO and SIPO speakers discussed how each issue is handled by the pertinent provisions in their current patent law and rules. They also addressed office practice and shared practical experiences with the different technical arts in biotech.  Industry and academic speakers provided user perspectives in their interaction with the patent law and practice in each country.

The workshop featured the following panels:

·         The first panel focused on taking a balanced approach to written description and enablement requirements, which are necessary for preventing impediments to patenting activity. Panelists also discussed the type of information that is required for an invention to satisfy the written description and enablement requirements.

·         The second panel focused on issues arising from claims with sequence homology. Panelists discussed the scope of claims using homology or percent of sequence identity language and issues that often arise during examination.

·         The third panel addressed meeting discussed China’s new requirements for patent disclosure for genetic resources, stakeholders’ experiences with China’s new genetic disclosure requirement, and alternative ways to ensure appropriate access and benefit sharing.

The three groups (BIO, PTO and SIPO) are looking forward to future opportunities to work together on issues of common interest.  

Upcoming BIO Events 

BIO Intellectual Property Counsels Committee Spring Conference and Committee Meeting
April 13-15, 2011
Seattle, WA

World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology & Bioprocessing
May 8-11, 2011
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Partnering for Global Health Forum 2011
June 27, 2011
Washington, DC

BIO International Convention
June 27-30, 2011
Washington, DC

2011 BIO Human Resources Conference
June 26-28, 2011
Washington, DC

The Business Forum at the BIO International Convention
June 28-30, 2011
Washington, DC

BIO India International Partnering Conference
September 21-22, 2011
Hyderabad, India

BIO China International Conference
October 12-13, 2011
Shanghai, China

About BIO

BIO represents more than 1,100 biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations across the United States and in more than 30 other nations. BIO members are involved in the research and development of innovative healthcare, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products. BIO also produces the BIO International Convention, the world’s largest gathering of the biotechnology industry, along with industry-leading investor and partnering meetings held around the world. BIO produces BIOtech Now, an online portal and monthly newsletter chronicling “innovations transforming our world.” Subscribe to BIOtech Now.

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BIO’s Amicus Brief: Microsoft v. i4i

The Biotechnology Industry Organization, along with AUTM and CropLife International, filed an amicus brief in the Microsoft v. i4i Supreme Court case.

This case is widely viewed as one of the most fundamental and important patent cases to reach the Supreme Court in probably a decade. Most basically, this case is about the level of certainty a jury or judge must have before finding a patent invalid in litigation. Historically, the law has required a high level of proof, “clear and convincing evidence,” before a patent that has been examined and issued by the US Patent and Trademark Office can be declared invalid by a court. In the Microsoft v. i4i case, the Supreme Court is now being asked to adopt a lower burden of proof, under which patents can more easily be found invalid by a lower “preponderance of the evidence.”

In our joint brief, BIO, AUTM and CLI explain that the current high burden of proof has deep historic roots in Supreme Court law, and has been consistently applied by the lower courts for many decades. Under the current standard, issued patents benefit from a clear and meaningful presumption of validity that cannot be easily overcome. In this way, patents play their intended role as enduring legal instruments that confer real rights, and that developers and investors can rely on for investment and product development decisions. The importance of being able to rely on patent rights is illustrated very clearly in the biotech industry, which would not be able to make large investments over very long development times without assurances that the fruits of their investments are protected by robust patent rights. Lowering the standard for patent validity would frustrate decades of investment-backed reliance interests and would negatively impact biotechnology innovation going forward. Our brief explains that the existing high burden of proof to invalidate a patent is entirely consistent with other instances where the law imposes high burdens of proof to protect the public’s reliance on existing property rights.

In our brief, we also point out that Congress permits patents to be invalidated on a lower burden of proof only by the expert Patent Office, and then only on certain kinds of reliable evidence. Litigants who prefer to argue to a lay jury or generalist judge, or who want to use less reliable evidence, can do so only under a higher burden of proof. Any change to this carefully-crafted balance would have to be made by Congress, not the courts.

The United States’ brief in this case forcefully argues against changing the current standard of patent validity.

Patent Reform Bill good for Biotech

Patent Reform Passes the Senate and Moves to the House

 

Posted by Roy Zwahlen, manager of intellectual property and technology transfer policy at BIO.

On March 8th, the Senate approved the America Invents Act (S. 23) by an overwhelming vote of 95-5.  BIO supports this bipartisan, consensus-oriented bill, formerly known as the Patent Reform Act of 2011.  Once enacted into law, it will strengthen and improve our nation’s patent system, spurring innovation and job creation.

Patents are often the main assets of small biotech companies, and they rely on this intellectual property to attract investors to fund the lengthy and expensive research and development process necessary to bring breakthrough new therapies and other biotech products to patients and consumers.  The improvements made by the America Invents Act would benefit the biotechnology industry, and indeed all sectors of the U.S. economy, by enhancing patent quality and the efficiency, objectivity, predictability, and transparency of the patent system.

Increased Resources for the PTO

The America Invents Act contains two provisions that would provide greater resources and operational flexibility for the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO).  First, it would end the diversion of fees collected by the PTO in excess of its budget, and would permit the PTO to retain such fees for use in either the current or future budget years.  It would also give the PTO the authority to set and adjust fees for patent applications, while requiring discounts in fees for small businesses.  These measures will help the PTO improve its long-range budgeting and planning for capital and human resources, hire more examiners to process the more than 350,000 patent applications it receives annually, and reduce the current backlog of more than 700,000 pending applications.

Improvements to PTO Re-Examinations

The America Invents Act would create new and improved proceedings for interested members of the public and the patent owner to seek review of issued patents by the PTO.  The new procedures would result in a more transparent and efficient system of patent quality review. Importantly, patent owners would have a new procedure under which they could go back to the PTO whenever they find new information that might affect the validity or scope of their patent claims without fear of later being accused of concealment or misrepresentation in court by an alleged infringer under the much-maligned inequitable conduct doctrine.  These new procedures would create more business certainty, less risk in investment in biotechnology products, greater assurances in licensing rights, and greater enforceability of patents.

False Patent Marking Litigation

False patent marking litigation occurs when a manufacturer labels a product with an incorrect or expired patent number.  Current law allows any member of the public to sue and sets the fine at $500 per falsely marked article, which has spawned a cottage industry of law firms using this law to shake down industry for settlements in return for promises to drop the lawsuits.  Historically, this was not of great concern until 2009 when the number of these lawsuits greatly increased.  The America Invests Act would require that, in order to sue, someone must have suffered a competitive injury.  This utilizes a common legal principle to ensure that those actually injured are receiving compensation, while excluding those trying to take advantage of a statutory loophole for personal gain.

First Inventor to File

One of the most hotly debated provisions of the America Invents Act would change America’s first to invent system to a first inventor to file system.  This system is embedded in international patent practice, with the United States as the only exception.  While some argue that America’s first to invent system is superior, it is inherently fraught with uncertainties, and problems arise when biotechnology companies try to protect their inventions here and abroad. This bill would remove these uncertainties, while providing adequate protections against misappropriation of an invention by someone other than the true inventor.

Additional Benefits

The America Invents Act would provide several additional benefits for the biotechnology industry, including making it easier for the actual owners of the invention to file patent applications and eliminating the “best mode” requirement as a defense in infringement litigation.  Generally, the removal of subjective elements of patent law helps to create a more equal playing field for all interested parties of an invention.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Ranking Member Charles Grassley (R-IA), and the other members of the Senate Judiciary Committee are to be commended for their tireless efforts to build bipartisan consensus on this legislation, which resulted in wide support of its passage in the Senate.

 

We look forward to working with the House Committee on the Judiciary as it continues its consideration of patent reform, and hope to see meaningful patent reform signed into law later this year.

 

PTO Director Kappos Remarks at Innovation Alliance Conference: IP leads to job growth

Thank you Roger [Martin], for that kind introduction.  I would like to thank the Innovation Alliance for having me in today to speak with you about intellectual property’s vital role in today’s innovation economy.

America stands at a critical juncture in our economic evolution, and intellectual property will play a key role in driving our economic growth and renewal.

As technological advances bring great change to the speed and complexity of American innovation, strong intellectual property protection and its effective enforcement will fuel innovation and jump-start our economy.

Today, I’ll speak about the critical role of IP in spurring innovation – and in increasing America’s competitiveness globally.

I’ll address the how the USPTO can ensure a well-functioning patent system; a patent system that enables small and medium sized businesses to secure the investment capital they need to bring their goods and services to market, and helps promote the free flow of goods and services across markets.  I’ll discuss the imperative for government leaders – the Executive branch, the Congress and the courts – to nurture an IP eco-system that will promote innovation, and ensure America’s economic well-being.

The economic success of the United States is deeply rooted in the history of American innovation.  This country was founded by pioneers who developed new ways to cope with an unfamiliar environment, who cured disease and connected a country, and who led the world into the age of flight.  American innovators discovered the power of information technology and digital communication that brought unprecedented commerce, economic growth, and prosperity.

So, our history has been driven by innovation. And our economic security continues to depend upon our ability to innovate – and to compete in an innovation economy.   The key to economic success lies increasingly in innovative product and service development, and in intellectual property protection, which creates value for innovation.

IP is – in effect — the global currency of innovation.

Today, as a share of gross economic value, the United States invests more in intangible assets than any of our major trading partners, and our intangible investments now exceed those in tangible assets by more than 20%.

And it is patent-reliant industries, specifically, that make up the most dynamic parts of the economy—from nanotechnology to pharmaceuticals, from computers to bio-tech, and from fiber optics to green technology.

Timely and high-quality patents are critical to small businesses, which create two out of every three American jobs.   They foster research and development, which requires capital and investment.

And they are essential to attracting the funds needed to bring innovation to market.

Let’s take the example of a company called Xencor—outside Los Angeles—which creates cutting-edge biotherapeutics to treat cancer, inflammation, and autoimmune disease.  Xencor uses patents to protect its proprietary design automation technology.

Xencor CEO Dr. Bassil Dahiyat put it simply: “without patents, you cannot get funding, and without funding, you cannot grow and create jobs.”

In Southeast Michigan, one of the areas hardest hit by the recession, the company Axletech International is a global manufacturer of machine hardware, with a significant patent portfolio upon which it depends heavily.  Since it began as a spin-off in 2002, Axletech has more than doubled its workforce and now employs more than 1,000 people.

Two different industries, two very different regions, two very different companies.  One thing in common: innovation protected by intellectual property creating jobs.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office was described in Harvard Business Review as the “biggest job creator you never heard of.”

As our country seeks to regain the 8 million jobs lost during the recent recession, the USPTO is a great place to start. Countless inventions that can spark new businesses are right there—sitting in the backlog. And reducing that backlog is one of Secretary Locke’s and my highest priorities.

The backlog of over 700,000 patent applications stands as a barrier to innovation and economic growth.  A 2010 report concludes that the backlog could ultimately cost the US economy billions of dollars annually in “foregone innovation.”

The next laser, the next energy breakthrough, the next cure for a debilitating disease, is buried in the files of the USPTO—and that is simply unacceptable.

So what are we doing about it?   First, we’re working to improve the quality of the patent application review process at the USPTO.  Quality patent issuances create certainty in the market.  Market certainty, in turn, facilitates growth.

Second, we are reforming the USPTO to reflect its criticality to our economy—and transforming the agency to match the fast pace of technology and innovation.

To this end, we’ve re-engineered the way we motivate and monitor our corps of examiners as well as our leaders; we’ve adopted new ways to recruit and retain top professionals; we’ve redefined performance plans to reflect the importance of high quality patent examination and backlog reduction; fostered more communication between applicants and examiners to improve quality and efficiency; and we’re working to build a new IT infrastructure that will speed patent application processing and improve search quality.

But—most critically—to decrease pendency while improving the quality of our work product, we have begun to recognize what companies in the shipping business figured out some time ago—that all packages don’t have to get to their destination at the same rate.  Some require next day service, while others can take a week.

It is clearly time for the USPTO—our nation’s Innovation Agency—to adopt private sector business practices and offer market-driven services.

So, the USPTO has instituted various programs enabling applicants to receive accelerated review, including for technologies in areas that are priorities for the Obama Administration – like green technology that is essential to battling climate change.

Very shortly, we will be issuing a notice regarding the details of Track 1 of the three track proposal we circulated last year, which is our plan to provide a comprehensive, flexible, patent application processing model offering different processing options more responsive to the real-world needs of our applicants.

Significantly, Track 1 will enable applicants – for a fee – to secure their patent within one year – thus enabling important new products and services to come to market sooner, create jobs and opportunity sooner, and make Americans healthier and more productive—a lot sooner.

Through programs like these, and through the tireless work of our examining corps, we will focus our efforts more effectively, reduce pendency, bring the backlog down, and foster innovation critical to the economic and social well-being of the United States.

But, America’s innovation success will require more than an effective USPTO.  It will be a function of many complex and overlapping innovation variables.

In the proud history of the United States—innovation led development—IP led development—has created economic vitality and good jobs.

In fact, technological innovation is linked to three quarters of our Nation’s post WWII growth rate.  And between 1990 and 2007, compensation for jobs in innovation-intensive sectors increased by two and a half times the national average.

And the US government has always played a critical role in ensuring innovation-driven growth.

During the deep recession of the 1970’s—innovation slowed dramatically and the manufacturing sector declined significantly.   In response, the US government launched a Domestic Policy Review aimed at reviving American industrial innovation.  This study, and others like it, led to the creation of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which brought clarity to the law and improved certainty around IP rights—increasing their value.

At the same time, Congress realized the critical role of patents in innovation through university research and development.  So it passed the Bayh-Dole Act, which encourages university patenting.

The increase in patent value and R & D that resulted from the patent system improvements of the late 1970’s and early 1980’s paved the way for a new era of economic growth and opportunity that lasted for the better part of two decades.

Now, as in the 1970’s and 1980’s, the United States stands at a crossroads of innovation.  Today we are presented with another innovation opportunity – and we again need sound IP policy and enforcement to increase the value of innovation.

To this end, the USPTO strongly supports comprehensive patent reform and applauds the significant efforts of Members of both the House and Senate to continue to push for these reforms, particularly Chairman Leahy and Chairman Smith who are making getting this bipartisan jobs legislation passed a top priority.

Proposals in this legislation – many that will help USPTO do its job better — have been discussed for the better part of the last 10 years.  And this is the Congress where we should and must finish those many years of work.

Parties have debated proposals and amended language many times, to where we now have key provisions that most parties support and that – without a doubt – will add more certainty to litigation, enable greater work sharing between USPTO and other countries, and help USPTO continue with the operational changes we know are needed to support innovators, help companies create jobs and put new, and better products in the marketplace.

President Obama talked about patent reform in his meeting with CEOs last month.  Secretary Locke has been and will continue to be a true champion in this endeavor.  And I am committed to continue working with Congress as they work to put forth the best piece of legislation possible.

And to do so, we’ll use what we’ve learned from recent litigation and court decisions and from the previous Congressional attempts to make Patent Reform law.   We’ll also need your continued feedback and support.  But make no mistake—the time is now, this year, to restore our nation’s innovation system to the global platinum standard it must be.

In parallel with reform of the patent system, it is incumbent upon us to develop a comprehensive and robust national IP policy focused on leveraging our IP system for economic growth and job creation.

America’s economic security depends on it.  So, in coordination with the White House, the Department of Commerce, and as a part of the President’s Innovation Strategy, the USPTO will lead in creating a National IP Strategy.

And we’ll reach out to the inventor, university and business community to play an active role in formulating this policy, based on sound practices.

We must provide an environment that allows American innovators, small and large, to protect their IP and attract capital based on their ideas. For businesses to flourish, we must provide timely and high quality access to IP rights.  And we must ensure that universities press forward the frontiers of science, while working with the private sector to ensure that the value they create is both protected and diffused quickly for the benefit of the communities they serve.

All parts of the US innovation value chain must remain vibrant…and if amplified by good government policy, the current re-aligning trends can support one another to preserve American leadership in the decades to come.

A sound national IP policy will lead to the creation and success of more innovative companies like Xencor and Axletech.  And it will ensure that we can leverage IP to safeguard our economic well-being.

If we act to meet these challenges, we can fuel decades of American economic growth.  The simple prerequisite:  a national focus on intellectual property as the currency of innovation.

Thank you.

Link to the USPTO website and speech