Most of us by now are familiar with the Coons Cotton Stronger Patents Act introduced a few weeks ago. If you have not yet caught up, it is a gem. At my Ipstrategic website, there are three levels of pertinent information including a sponsor press release and a summary of its provisions. We will not repeat them here. Suffice it to say that this artfully crafted proposed legislation restores much of the damage to our patent landscape recently inflicted by Congress and the Courts. It also addresses the troll issue in inappropriately targeted manner. The bill has intelligent bi-partisan backing. Until yesterday it had been the sole occupant of the center ring in the congressional patent law circus.
Yesterday Reps. Issa and House Judiciary Goodlatte initiated the Megatech response igniting a backfire in the House with a hearing designed to revive the tired troll narrative. Being in the majority, they selected three anti patent witnesses. Unfortunately for them, the one minority witness was Former Chief Judge Paul Michel whose knowledgeable testimony itself backfired on the Issa’s plan to counter the Senate bill. Judge Michel won the day with his deep understanding of patent law and policy. He made it clear that our patent system is in crisis and that patent restoration legislation must be enacted.
That means we now have to pass a bill over the objections of the incumbent mega techs and their Congressional water carriers. No small challenge! So far, the “politics” of this fight have gone their way. That will continue to be the case. Home state research universities themselves become a credible RESOURCE to their home state congressional delegations, by credibly explaining as Judge Michel did (see below) what is at stake and why it is important. Research universities can and must do so. Here’s why. . .
As some of you may know, I recently presented a “workshop” in Chicago at AUTM’s Central Regional Conference on Patent Advocacy. One question was frequently asked of me while I was in the “Windy City.” How can academic TTO’s and researchers affect congressional outcomes contending with the overpowering lobbying resources of the incumbent op-cos? I had a two part answer. First TTO’s must survive in highly political entities like universities, all of which are different. They are”hybrids” who have successfully navigated their university’s political environment while engaged in conduct that is suspect for some and is an expense because conducting commercialization creates a minimal financial return on royalties. But research bridges the other two university missions of education and public benefit. To obtain research grants and the talent and prestige, they attract universities must demonstrate commercialization capacity to federal grant agencies.
University administrative leadership must be content with multiple difficult challenges. Commercialization capacity often receives low administrative priority. But a reputation for solid research addresses many of their woes by attracting federal research grants, talented students and researchers, and by its demonstrable beneficial public impact. As state and federal support continue to shrink strong research capacity also can attract sponsored research. In the political tangle of university operations, there is someone (maybe even you) who can elevate research commercialization’s priority the right places. Whoever he or she is, they will have to be reliably informed and up-to-date not only with patent reform’s policy implications but also with its internal and external political implications on the Hill. Keeping you well informed is my job. If I can do so efficiently, you will be better able to do your job even if it adds another task to your already overflowing and multitasked job description.
Second I explain that most members are grateful to hear from their universities. They know there is a fair amount of BS associated with this issue. What they do not know is where to find out what is going on. That’s why connecting them and their staff is appreciated. In the Hill’s present post truth partisan political atmosphere straight talk is always appreciated. Set up telephone contact. They hear enough from lobbyists. What they want are folks who will function as resources. That is you or your university spokesperson. They need hear about locally successful and job producing business that sprung from you innovation ecosystem. Universities matter to jobs and state economic development. Members support R&D expenditures and want them to redound to their home state economies. So tell them your success stories.
Lastly, I respond by assuring them that I will keep them informed about their delegations congressional environment so TTO spokespeople you can help them understand the invention investment realities of your commercialization.
Two links are below.