Opinions and Editorials

Jul. 10, 2020

InsideSources: Using the Pandemic to Undermine Patent Rights for All Inventors by Brian Pomper

During the Great Recession of the late 2000s, Rahm Emmanuel, President Obama’s then-chief of staff famously stated, “Never allow a good crisis to go to waste. It’s an opportunity to do the things you once thought were impossible.”

Unfortunately, some large high-tech companies who have long sought to weaken the patent system to support their business models are now embracing that Machiavellian mantra as they seek to use the threat of the coronavirus pandemic to undermine patent rights — not just for drug manufacturers, but for all inventors.

Patents are a key driver of economic growth and job creation in the United States and provide a critical incentive for innovation, including the medical innovation needed to respond to the pandemic.

Yet, since the pandemic reached our shores earlier this year, we have seen commentators tied to some of the world’s wealthiest high-tech companies use the real fear of the virus to argue for the same proposals to weaken patents they have advanced for years.

By weakening patent rights for all inventors, these companies hope to reduce their patent licensing costs and increase profit margins. Using the human tragedy befalling so many Americans as just another tool to argue for weaker patents to advance business interests is opportunistic and wrong, to say the least.