Opinions and Editorials

Apr. 15, 2020

IP Watchdog: Time to Fix U.S. Innovation Policy to Ensure We’re Prepared for the Next Pandemic by Gene Quinn

“The COVID-19 crisis has once more highlighted the need for incentivizing investment and innovation—and thus, for patent laws that duly “promote” and protect such “progress,” precisely as our Founders envisioned,” writes Chief Judge Paul Michel, now retired from the Federal Circuit. As he so often is, Judge Michel is absolutely correct.

Many are asking why testing for the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 has been slow to roll out, and why tests in many countries are inaccurate. Those familiar with U.S. patent laws understand the problem. There has been a de-emphasis on medical diagnostics in America as the result of a series of Supreme Court and Federal Circuit rulings, coupled with Congressional inaction.

It is hardly a shock that research and development into medical diagnostics has stalled. The interesting thing about intellectual property and innovation policy is that it works. Much like the case with the tax code, society gets what society incentivizes. If it is impossible to protect medical diagnostics in the United States little research and development is done with respect to medical diagnostics, it is that simple.