intellectual property

Patents negatively affect follow-on innovation in select industries, research finds

Last month, SSTI highlighted a recent research paper on the debate regarding university-industry collaboration’s impact on the academic ideal of open sciences and reduced academic productivity. In a new working paper from National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), MIT researcher Heidi Williams examines another controversial Intellectual Property (IP) topic – whether patent systems, in practice, improve the alignment between private returns and social contributions. Williams findings indicate that for select industries the patents of large firms can reduce the amount of follow-on innovation conducted by small firms and startups – potentially reducing the social impact of those new technologies. However, for select industries, patent invalidation – the denial of patent rights by the USTPO or federal courts – has limited impact on follow-on innovation.

IP-intensive industries pay higher wages, support nearly 30 percent of all U.S. jobs, USPTO Finds

U.S. intellectual property (IP)-intensive industries employ at least 27.9 million workers and contributed more than $6.6 trillion dollars (38.2 percent) to U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) in 2014, according to Intellectual Property and the U.S. Economy: 2016 Update. In this update to a 2012 report, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and Economics and Statistics Administration (ESA) identified 81 industries (from among 313 total) as IP-intensive including trademark-intensive, copyright-intensive, and patent-intensive industries.

FTC Report Calls for Reform of Patent Trolls

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a report calling for reforms aimed at patent “trolls” to help lower the number of frivolous lawsuits filed by shell companies, a move welcomed by the tech industry that has pushed for reform because of the cost of lawsuits that result from the activity and its negative effect on innovation, research and development. The report follows an investigation into the practices of patent assertion entities (PAEs) – firms that acquire patents from third parties and then try to make money by licensing or suing accused infringers. The report includes several recommendations for patent litigation reforms.

Recent Research: University Culture, IP Policy, TTOs Play Vital Role Increasing Patenting Activity by Female Academics

Over the past 40 years, the number of women across the globe filing patents has risen fastest within academia compared to all other sectors of the innovation economy, according to a new study from researchers at Indiana University (IU). The researchers found that the overall percentage of patents with women's names attached rose from an average of 2 percent to 3 percent across all areas in 1976 to 18 percent in 2013 for female academics. In comparison, the overall percentage of patents with women's names attached grew to 10 percent in industry and 12 percent for individuals. The study tracked female patent filers across 185 countries, all of whom filed their patents with the U.S. patent office.

Battelle Study: NSF, NIST, DOE Lead in Patent Output Per Dollar

The National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Department of Energy (DOE) far outpace their peer agencies in patenting output per dollar, according to a new study by Battelle's Technology Partnership Practice. Research funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the focus of the study, generated one patent for every $16.9 million invested by the federal government between 2000-2013. Some NIH institutes had an even higher rate of patent generation, with the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NBIB) producing a patent for every $4 million invested.

China Top Country of Origin for Global Patent Filings, According to IP Report

Global patent applications jumped by 11 percent in 2013, while patents granted rose by a more modest 4 percent in the top five worldwide patent offices. The 2013 data was recently released by IP5, a cooperative effort of the European, Japanese, South Korean, Chinese and U.S. patent organizations, which together represent about 80 percent of the world’s patent activity. China has now solidly emerged as the top nation for patent applications and first filings after first taking the lead in 2011. China has also become the top country of origin for global patent filings, with the U.S. ranking third behind China and Japan. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office reported that it had reduced its backlog of applications by 31 percent from the peak level in 2009, and finalized the first-to-file provision of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act.  Download the report…

U.S. Sources Funded More Than 80% of Worldwide Industrial R&D in 2011

U.S. companies performed over $294 billion in research and development (R&D) in 2011, according to the Business R&D and Innovation Survey (BRDIS) – a business survey conducted annually by the U.S. Census Bureau and the National Science Foundation. Companies funded an overwhelming majority of the industrial R&D conducted in the U.S. (81.2 percent, approximately $238.8 billion). Approximately $55.3 million of industrial R&D (18.8 percent) was funded by other sources, predominately from the federal government ($31.3 billion). U.S. industrial R&D spending accounted for approximately 81 percent of worldwide R&D performance – $363.3 billion in total industrial R&D in 2011. 

Presidential Executive Actions Target Patent Trolls, Offer Assistance to Innovators

In keeping with the commitment made in his State of the Union address to reform the American patent system, President Obama announced a series of executive actions to improve the quality and accessibility of the patenting process. White House officials also reiterated the call for more sweeping changes to the system from Congress and provided an update on the previous series of executive orders related to intellectual property issued in June of last year. At the same time, the U.S. Supreme Court is considering two cases that could have major ramifications for patenting in high-tech industries.

U.S. Venture Capital Market Harmed by Growing Number of Patent Assertions

Growth in the number of patent assertions facing startup companies is hampering U.S. venture capital, according to a new survey of venture capitalists (VC) and venture-backed companies from the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA) and Robin Feldman, director of the Institute for Innovation Law at University of California Hastings. Eighty percent of VC respondents note that the number of patent assertions filed against portfolio companies have increased over the past five years, with half indicating these assertions were a major deterrent to investment. Seventy percent believe the growth in claims is a negative influence on U.S. entrepreneurship.

Do TBED Policies Help or Hinder Knowledge Sharing?

A central tenet in the understanding of regional economic clusters is the idea that the closer two actors are to one another, the more likely they are to collaborate. This belief is based on decades of research done to examine knowledge spillovers and the effect of spatial proximity on tacit knowledge sharing. In a recent article, however, Jasjit Singh of INSEAD and Matt Marx of MIT differentiate the varying effects of crude distance on knowledge sharing compared to the effects of geopolitical borders. Despite the explosion of the Internet and advancement in communication, borders still matter.


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