This site is devoted to copyright and issues of 'intellectual property,' particularly the issue's analytical aspects. It also concerns itself with the gap between public perception and the true facts, and with the significant lag time between the coverage on more technical sites and the mainstream press. For site feed, see: To see the list of sites monitored to create this site, see:

Sunday, October 16, 2005

From the NAS report: "Rising above the gathering storm."
Action D-1: Enhance intellectual-property protection for the 21st century
global economy to ensure that systems for protecting patents and other forms of
intellectual property underlie the emerging knowledge economy, yet allow research to
enhance innovation. The patent system requires reform of three specific kinds:

• Protect resources for the Patent and Trademark Office to give that office
sufficient resource to make intellectual-property protection more timely,
predictable, and effective.

More money to the patent office is a good thing, and non-diversion would be a good start.

• Reconfigure the US patent system by switching to a “first-inventor-to-file” system, and by instituting administrative review after the patent is granted.
Those reforms would bring the US system into alignment with patent systems
in Europe and Japan.

The harmonization argument pops up yet again. I'm not sure that the goal is so terrible, though, except that it's a real problem if the patent office doesn't get its act together and start actually finding obvious prior art for some of these applciations.

• Shield some research uses of patented inventions from infringement liability.
One recent court decision could jeopardize the long-assumed ability of
academic researchers to use patented inventions for research.

No complaints here.

• Change intellectual property laws that act as barriers to innovation in specific
industries, such as those related to data exclusivity (in pharmaceuticals) and
those that increase the volume and unpredictability of litigation (especially in
IT industries).

Not quite sure what they're going after here.

There are other parts of the report that I disagree with but that don't have to do with IP, notably its emphasis on training more scientists who will only go on to bleak career prospects. Of course, they spend much time in the preamble talking of how cheap scientists are to hire in other countries, so there's certainly some twisted logic in their recommendations that they don't want to elaborate on. It's ironic because the report starts with a quote:
Ninety-nine percent of the discoveries are made by one percent of the scientists. ~Julius Axelrod, Nobel Laureate. Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, Vol. 149, No. 2, June 2005.
I say ironic because if one were following Axelrod's guidance, recommending grants for those 1% of scientists who currently have no problem with funding through Ph.D. programs but have a terrible time with post-post-doc funding would make more sense.



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