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Patenting and Innovation in China: Incentives, Policy, and Outcomes

July 2, 2015 Comments off

Patenting and Innovation in China: Incentives, Policy, and Outcomes
Source: RAND Corporation

China has undergone a patenting boom, with yearly increases in patent applications averaging 34 percent. Since 2000 this has resulted in a 16-fold increase in the annual number of patents and according to the United Nations, China’s patent office has received more patent filings than any other country (UN December 11, 2012). Previous literature indicates that this trend is driven by large volumes of low-quality patents. Given this, I was motivated to understand the drivers of this trend, the impact of patenting-promoting policies, and the innovative outcomes of Chinese firms. This dissertation examines these three questions in three separate essays: (1) What are the drivers of this patenting boom, and what implications exist for Chinese technical innovation? (2) What are the innovative impacts of the Indigenous Innovation Policy, which is designed to promote patenting? (3) How innovative are leading Chinese firms?

Patenting and Innovative Startups: Putting the America Invents Act in a Broader Economic Context

June 26, 2015 Comments off

Patenting and Innovative Startups: Putting the America Invents Act in a Broader Economic Context (PDF)
Source: U.S. Small Business Administration

Patents are at the crux of innovation in the economy. Patents provide a framework by which innovative research can take place and new technologies can be disseminated. In particular, patents provide a clear economic incentive to undertake innovative research that has the potential to substantially grow startups.1 Patents protect researchers and investors with clear determinations of intellectual property rights while also providing a vehicle with which to share newly developed technologies without a fear of losing ownership of intellectual property.2

Given the significance of patents, any changes to the patenting system could potentially have widespread impacts—both positive and negative—to startups, small businesses, and by extension, to the economy as a whole. In recent years, the Leahy-Smith American Invents Act of 2011 (AIA) made significant changes to the U.S. patenting system. While it is too early to tell precisely what those impacts are, the AIA could affect the viability of innovative startups.3

National Academy of Inventors and Intellectual Property Owners Association Announce Top 100 Worldwide Universities Granted U.S. Patents Rankings

June 26, 2015 Comments off

National Academy of Inventors and Intellectual Property Owners Association Announce Top 100 Worldwide Universities Granted U.S. Patents Rankings
Source: National Academy of Inventors and Intellectual Property Owners Association

The National Academy of Inventors (NAI) and the Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO) have announced the Top 100 Worldwide Universities Granted U.S. Utility Patents in 2014. The report, published annually since 2013, utilizes data obtained from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to highlight the important role patents play in university research and innovation.

The NAI and IPO compile the rankings each year by calculating the number of utility patents granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office which list a university as the first assignee on the printed patent. The full report of the Top 100 Worldwide Universities Granted Patents in 2014 can be found at www.Academyofinventors.com/pdf/NAI-IPO-Top-100-Universities-2014.pdf

The top 15 universities worldwide ranked include: The University of California System, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Tsinghua University (China), Stanford University, University of Texas, California Institute of Technology, Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF), Johns Hopkins University, Columbia University, University of Michigan, National Tsing Hua University (Taiwan), Korea Institute of Science Technology, University of South Florida, University of Pennsylvania, and the Institute of Microelectronics of Chinese Academy of Science.

The Leahy-Smith America Invents Act: A Preliminary Examination of Its Impact on Small Businesses

June 17, 2015 Comments off

The Leahy-Smith America Invents Act: A Preliminary Examination of Its Impact on Small Businesses
Source: U.S. Small Business Administration

The Leahy-Smith America Invents Act of 2011 (AIA) may be the largest change in U.S. patent policy in over half a century. Among other things, the AIA shifts the U.S. patenting system from a first-to-invent (FTI) to a first-inventor-to-file (FITF) basis. This eliminates the use of dates of invention in determining who receives a patent. This policy change has the potential to have widespread impacts on how patents are acquired, utilized, and protected.

The intricacies of the AIA and the complex way in which patents contribute to the broader economy mean that this change could yield different economic impacts to businesses of different sizes and industries. While the FITF shift took effect in 2013, only a modicum of post-AIA patenting data is available for analysis because of the length of the patenting process and expected legal challenges. As a result, the positive and negative economic outcomes of the FITF shift are still uncertain.

The magnitude of these outcomes is particularly important to small businesses since some rely on patents to raise capital, and intellectual property is central to some business plans. Given the uncertainty and importance of the economic outcomes resulting from the shift to the FITF system, the AIA included a provision directing the Office of Advocacy to study how this policy shift could affect small businesses. In 2014, the Bella Research Group was awarded a contract to carry out this study. Their report employs a literature review and three quantitative analyses to assess the potential small business impacts of policy changes resulting from the AIA.

Copyright Office Releases Report on Orphan Works and Mass Digitization

June 9, 2015 Comments off

Copyright Office Releases Report on Orphan Works and Mass Digitization
Source: U.S. Copyright Office

The U.S. Copyright Office today released Orphan Works and Mass Digitization: A Report of the Register of Copyrights. The Report documents the legal and business challenges faced by good faith users who seek to use orphan works and/or engage in mass digitization projects. It provides a series of legislative recommendations that offer users a way forward out of gridlock, but also take into account the legitimate concerns and exclusive rights of authors and other copyright owners.

The Copyright Office has long held the view, which it reiterates in the Report, that too many valuable projects are forestalled because users can neither locate the rightsholders nor protect themselves or their licensees from ongoing exposure to liability. Similarly, recent litigation has highlighted a gap in the law regarding how to fully facilitate mass digitization projects that are in the public’s interest without undermining the rights of copyright owners, including the right to be fairly compensated.

Report of Findings from an Open Data Roundtable with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office

May 28, 2015 Comments off

Report of Findings from an Open Data Roundtable with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (PDF)
Source: U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (GovLab)

Today, data is widely recognized as not just an important tool, but a platform for innovation, and this Administration has taken many important steps towards making government data more open and accessible to the public. As Secretary Pritzker has said, the Department of Commerce is “America’s Data Agency,” and has a unique and central role in unlocking the potential of government data.

For the USPTO, disclosing and disseminating data go to the very heart of our mission. After all, the patent system rests on the bargain an inventor makes when he or she discloses an invention and teaches the public how it works, and in turn receives the right to exclude others from practicing it. From that perspective, the USPTO has been in the business of open data for a very long time. Our data lets inventors and businesses know when they need to invent around a technology and when they need to consider a license, which serves as fuel for our nation’s innovation engine. If we are going to live up to our mission to disseminate information about patents and trademarks, it requires an agency-wide commitment to the principles of open data—a commitment that the USPTO has made.

CRS — Money for Something: Music Licensing in the 21st Century (May 7, 2015)

May 14, 2015 Comments off

Money for Something: Music Licensing in the 21st Century (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Taylor Swift made headlines around the world when she, in conjunction with other holders of rights to her music, pulled her entire catalog of music from the digital steaming service Spotify in November 2014. As a songwriter, a composer, and a singer, Ms. Swift is entitled to get paid for (1) the reproductions and performances of the notes and lyrics she creates (the musical works), as well as (2) the reproductions and performances of the sound of her voice combined with the instruments (the sound recordings). The amount Ms. Swift gets paid for her musical works and sound recordings depends on market forces and on contracts among a variety of private-sector entities. These forces and contracts are greatly affected by federal copyright law.

The laws that determine who pays whom in the digital world were written, by and large, at a time when music was distributed mainly via radio broadcasts or physical media, such as sheet music and phonograph records, and when each of these forms of distribution represented a distinct channel with unique characteristics. With the emergence of the Internet, Congress updated some copyright laws in the 1990s. It applied one set of laws to digital services it viewed as akin to radio broadcasts, and another set to digital services it viewed as akin to physical media. Since that time, however, consumers have increasingly been consuming music via digital services that incorporate attributes of both radio and physical media. Under existing law, the companies that compete in delivering music to listeners face very different cost structures, depending on the royalty provisions applicable to their unique business models. The royalties received by songwriters, performers, music publishers, and record companies for one play or sale of a particular song may vary greatly, depending upon the particular business model of the company delivering the music.

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