Opinions and Editorials

Jun. 21, 2018

The Hill: With some adjustments, America’s patent system can reclaim its gold standard status, by James Greenwood

This post originally appeared in The Hill on June 21, 2018.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) recognized a milestone of human ingenuity this week that perhaps even the Founding Fathers’ never anticipated: granting the 10 millionth patent.

The Founding Fathers who drafted the Constitution understood that strong, enforceable inventor rights are necessary “[t]o promote the progress of science and useful arts,” and went on to establish the U.S. patent system in 1790. Since then, intellectual property protections have been the driver of America’s unique culture of innovation.

Without these strong patent rights, the financing to take revolutionary biotechnology discoveries from the lab to the patient, farmer, or consumer would be unavailable. The weakening of these patent rights threatens new investment in the innovation sector of our economy and, with it, the jobs and industries of the future.

Research and development within the biotechnology industry is expensive and each potential cure or product is saddled with a much greater risk of failure than success. Investment in these new medicines is based on an expected return in the form of patent-protected products or services that ultimately reach the market. The typical biotech company does not have a product on the market, nor a steady source of revenue, and spends tens of millions of dollars on research and development (R&D) annually.