Monday 23 March 2015

"IP Protection: Under Attack": Hyperbole or On Point

In Adam Jaffe and Josh Lerner's excellent 2004 book, Innovation and Its Discontents: How Our Broken Patent System is Endangering Innovation and Progress, and What to Do About It, the authors describe the historical ebb and flow of the availability and scope of patent rights.  The authors point to the 1980s to 2004 as a time when patents rights were strong and appeared to be getting stronger.  Indeed, those rights were becoming so strong that they were endangering innovation, according to the authors.  The rights were certainly flowing during that time.  And, for sure, there has been a backlash against patent rights.  The authors caution, however, that we tend to push either too far in one direction toward weak rights or too strong rights.  Are we moving too far against patent rights already? 

On March 27, 2015, from 1:00 to 2:00 pm Eastern Time in the U.S., the Federal Circuit Bar Association's Corporate Counsel Committee is sponsoring a webinar titled, "IP Protection: Under Attack."  The panelists are Fernand A. Lavallee, Partner, Jones Day, Nicole J. Owren-Wiest, Partner, Wiley Rein LLP, and Andrew E. Shipley, Partner, Perkins Coie.  The moderator is Mary M. Calkins, Senior IP Counsel, SAP.  The description of the panel states:

Please join us for a panel discussion about current threats to intellectual property protections that rights owners and businesses have long relied upon. The panel will cover areas such as limitations on software and data rights, procurement concerns, developments in 28 U.S.C. § 1498 actions in the Court of Federal Claims, and recent decisions of the Supreme Court and Federal Circuit affecting the scope of IP protection.

Does this panel title accurately describe the current situation concerning patent rights, and IP more broadly?  Is IP protection under attack?  Is it hyperbole?  Is it a bad thing for IP protection to be under attack?  Have we already gone too far against IP rights?  How do we know when we have gone too far—in either direction?  Do we continue to “reform” so long as a so-called "patent troll" exists?  Where are we headed?

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